History teacher Gerald Dalebout says a grant-funded trip thousands of miles away is just what he needs to bring his lectures in his Moscow High School classroom to life.
Dalebout was recently accepted into the Fulbright Distinguished Teaching program, which includes a grant supporting a semester of research abroad.
In January, Dalebout and his family will leave to spend about six months in the Netherlands, where he will study strategies used in the country to assess student mastery of lesson content and skills, possibly at the University of Amsterdam.
His absent semester at Moscow High will be filled on a temporary basis.
He said he hopes to identify elements of assessment practices deployed abroad that can be adapted to compliment classrooms in Moscow as the district and state move forward with implementing a mastery-based education system and grading.
According to Dalebout, the mastery-based model moves students away from a time-based system to a system that allows for a more personalized and differentiated learning.
This means using effective strategies for assessing whether a student has truly mastered and will retain the information taught in class before allowing them to move on.
Even without the research component, Dalebout said visiting and experiencing the historic spaces about which he teaches will have a positive affect on his lesson plans.
“My history class (and) my U.S. government class will come to life more from this experience,” he said. “Just by me being there, if I didn’t do research at all, it would make me a better teacher because it would make it that much more real for my students.”
Even though he was confident in his research proposal he sent to the program, Dalebout said he was still surprised when he was selected.
He said his application was inspired by a trip he took with his father to the Netherlands in June of 2018. The two were investigating their family roots, which hail from the Dutch island of Zealand.
“We landed in Amsterdam and then we went to Zealand to see the family but when I got there, I just loved the culture a lot,” Dalebout said. “When I got back, I was like, ‘I want to go back there and teach or something.’ There’s just a lot for me to learn from the Netherlands.”
Dalebout said his family will accompany him on the trip, which presents certain challenges — especially considering the youngest of his three children, Milo, was born about a month ago. He said education for his two older sons — Finn, 5, and Liam, 8 — will be difficult, and housing in the Netherlands is notoriously hard to come by.
However, he said he is hopeful his children will learn Dutch and plans to take them to nearby museums, which isn’t covered by the grant, to help supplement their education.
“We are terrified — I imagine the first few weeks is going to be like, really stressful on our family,” Dalebout said. “Our kids won’t have friends, we won’t have friends, but at the end of the process, I think we’re all as a family going to grow tremendously and so I’m super thankful for it.”
Scott Jackson can be reached at (208) 883-4636, or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.