For all those teachers who would categorize themselves as having a strong case of wanderlust, the chance to explore a new destination in the U.S. or abroad while simultaneously bringing their classroom to life sounds like the opportunity of a lifetime. However, even for the most experienced teachers, traveling with a group of students for the first time can feel daunting—especially if you don’t know what to expect. Sure, you may be familiar with what it’s like to, say, check in at an airport, but what about when you have a group of students behind you? Similarly, things like traveling from point A to point B, or checking in at a hotel, can look different in a group versus individually.
Luckily, this is exactly why EF offers to send first-time Group Leaders with a minimum number of enrolled travelers (10 if you’re traveling internationally, 15 if you’re traveling within North America) on a training tour. They want to make sure you feel comfortable, confident, and prepared to take your students on tour. While finding the time to take four or five days out of your busy life can feel hard, from one Group Leader to another, my advice would be to GO! Trust me when I say, you won’t regret it.
Here are four reasons why I think you’ll find traveling on an EF training tour helpful.
Marcus Garvey once said, “With confidence, you have won before you have started.” In my opinion, this couldn’t be more true when it comes to successfully taking a group of students on tour and learning how to “teach” abroad or in a new U.S. city. Traveling on a training tour is exactly what you need to gain that confidence. It will help get you over any initial fears of traveling, while giving you the opportunity to practice going through all the motions before you have your group of students behind you.
In addition to their cohort of first-timers, training tours include both experienced Group Leaders and EF staff. My advice to you is to take advantage of your resources! Use the time to ask any and all questions. This is your time to learn how to become the best Group Leader for your students, and getting the chance to pick the brain of someone who was once in your shoes is priceless.
EF firmly believes that experiential learning is one of the best ways for students to learn, so why not go through the process yourself? A training tour allows you to wear two hats: that of a student traveler (so you’re able to experience what a tour will be like for your students) and also that of a Group Leader so you have experience to fall back on when you talk with your group about what to expect and how to best prepare for their trip. What’s even better? EF is accredited just like your school and can help you earn up to 25 hours of professional development by attending a training tour and completing all of the components.
Traveling is about making connections. The more you travel, the more you realize how small a world it really is. Traveling with a group of like-minded professionals gives you the opportunity to build lasting connections and friendships with other Group Leaders and EF staff who you can connect with throughout your journey as a Group Leader.
Editor’s note (2022): This piece has been updated for clarity, accuracy, and relevance.