and I think the way for me that I found success in the classroom was that when students were learning through joy and they were just showing up every day wanting to be there like that for me was where I found like I had the most success and I think I was always fortunate where um that environment led to what people were looking for at the end, which was success and on different metrics in terms of like standardized testing or what have you. Sherry is originally from boston massachusetts as a boston native, she experienced to school closures, which sparked her flame for education reform. After graduating from American University, she joined teach for America and fell in love with teaching and supporting teachers to facilitate joy in the classroom. She believes that teaching is one of the hardest occupations and was more teachers to engage in self care. Thus, she founded black Teachers Travel which plans trips for black educators across the globe in her free time. You can find her reading a fiction novel by a black author traveling with friends, visiting family or dancing around the house.
Here's my interview with Sharia from black teachers travel, Welcome to the teachers impact of podcast. We have a special guest today. Her name is Sharia and she is the founder of black Teachers Travel. I found her on instagram. I was really inspired by the mission of her company. So I wanted to have her on as a guest for the podcast. So please welcome to Sharia to the podcast. I'm so excited to be here. Thank you, Thank you so excited to have you. So we're just gonna get right into it. The first question is what really drove you to become a teacher? Um I think most people don't realize or know that I originally didn't want to be a teacher, actually didn't think that ought to be good at it and I wanted to actually go and be just like in policy and do education reform and it wasn't into a mentor of mine in college actually asked me, are you sure that you want to go and change policy and change the things for teachers and administrators when you've never had the chance to be one when you, the last time you were in the classroom, you were only a student.
And so that for me really just shook up my world at the time, I just knew what I wanted to do. And so when I eventually decided to apply and work to become a teacher, my first teaching job was actually in New Orleans and I loved it. I loved it. Being in this like in the classroom with students, I knew then that I wanted to be an administrator and so I've been doing that ever since. Um and I'm glad that I made that decision. That's awesome. It's funny how sometimes we get into education just, you know, via mentor talking to us and it just sparks that fire. So yeah, that's really great. Um so my next question is what made you start the organization black teachers travel. Yes. So that, I think there's 22 parts to that story. The first thing is what most people know if you ask any of my friends or family members, I love to travel like it, that's just something I've always wanted to do. I had my first travel experience when I was actually in high school with a program called Summer Search and so I just, I'd love to travel ever since then when I realized the older I got and when I first got into education and being an educator, I remember wanting to use our like what they call teacher breaks and honestly they're really not there just like weeks or days of rest.
Exactly. And so I realized then that I was having this extra time and when I would want to travel with other educators, we were so tired like trying to plan a trip was just out of this world, like it just was an additional task. It was almost like writing. So plans because we couldn't do exactly what I couldn't do it. And so I have decided then I was like, you know, what would be great is um, if there was something out there that would plan trips around the times that teachers have breaks up, like have breaks her time off like summer, winter spring break and sort of just takes that additional load off their plate. And so when I realized there was nothing there as well, this seems like a perfect opportunity or away from me to plug in and do something, one that I love, which is travel to network and three bring black educators specifically together. And so that is how black teachers travel was formed. That's awesome. I think it's a wonderful idea because I love to travel myself. But then when I think of actually planning a trip, I'm just like, no, we weren't.
So yeah, so that's why I said, I was like inspired by, you know, your organization because it takes a load off when you can just have somebody else planet and you're with the educator. So it's not like you have to find the time to find the time to get someone else to go with you because teachers are already off or you know, an educator, they're already off in that time. So you have someone to go with, plan a trip for you and you can really actually enjoy your time off. So I think, yeah, it's a wonderful idea. And my next question is like, how do you, how do you define success as an educator slash um entrepreneur, No success is different for everybody, but how to use specifically define it. I mean that's, I don't such a tough question for me because when I think about success in the classroom, the way that education is set up now is so data driven. So it's like so many students have met this particular metric that this particular, um or had this particular score on a given assessment and I think the way for me that I found success in the classroom was that when students were learning through joy and they were just showing up every day, wanting to be there, like that for me was where I felt like I had the most success and I think I was always fortunate where um that environment led to what people were looking for at the end, which was success in on different metrics in terms of like standardized testing or what have you.
And so that's how I sort of describe success for me in the classroom. I think sort of thinking about being an entrepreneur specifically in education. What I found success is where people sort of leave the experience or leave the trip saying to themselves, I met like minded individuals, I didn't spend my entire time talking about my job because I already do that. But yeah, I had a great time with other educators and we experience something new and we now have a unique experience that we, that will always share in a bond that no one would truly understand unless they were in on that trip or in that space. And so that's how I decided to um describe success for being an entrepreneur. That's wonderful. I think joy is something that we leave out of success when it comes to education because if the students don't have that joy what's really the point, right? Because we have to cultivate a joy of learning and I think, I think that's wonderful because it's something that we forget, especially like you said with data driven instruction is so much of a focus.
But if there is no joy, again, what really is the point? Um, and I love, you know, your take on entrepreneurs well, being successful as an entrepreneur, having that connection with the educators and leaving the shared bond after the trip has finished because again, you know, bonding and building those relationships and connections is what it's all about, right, definitely. They are definitely really to both of those things, I think um as an education or as a elementary educator, it's like I'm sort of building or working with students in order for them to build what they're like, learning styles are going to be, what their interest in math or reading is going to be sort of setting the foundation and when I think about the times, the way I've witnessed students not having a joy in the classroom, so like you're sort of taking that away from them as early as I can. I want you to find your, your reading identity.
You might not like nonfiction text and that's okay. Um you might only want to read fantasy and that is okay too because when you become an adult. No, well sometimes they do depend on what you have to read for work, but usually, you know like you're reading life is based on what you want to read and what you believe is important. And so joy for me is super important when I think about being an elementary educator. Um and I think that also shows up in the spaces that I've had the chance to hold with the trips that we've had to, it's like I just want people to have fun on people to sort of come and not have to worry and not have to care for the first time out of an entire stressful school year, especially coming off This last school year, 2020, 2021 was crazy. And so I just wanted to show, yeah, that's awesome, awesome. So cultivating joy. Right? So my next question is self care is an important part of your business. Um how does black teachers travel cultivate self care on their trips?
I think the first way that we do it is that I build intentional breaks. Um during our trip itinerary and during our trip, like I don't pack the entire day. Typically there's about two activities, 1 to 2 activities for that day, but there's always time either in the morning or there are times that night where people just like go be a human, like we didn't, we came to this um what we came to the city, but that doesn't mean we all came because we wanted to see the same thing. So for example, in Chicago, there was enough time in the morning for one of the educators to go and go see this black bookstore that she had to hurt so much about. And I personally like I love going to bookstores more or less going to libraries honestly though. And so that was something she wanted to do. And so she had the time and space to do that. So that's one way that I make sure that I have a self care on the trip. I think another way is we don't spend the entire time talking about being an educator or like, like we do that so much if we go and people are always asking why do you, do you know like why are you an educator, what's going on?
Talk to me. Um, and even though we, we talk about some of our experiences being an educator, it's not the sole purpose of the trip. The only thing that ties us to come on the trip is being an educator, but that doesn't mean that we need to talk about it all the time. And so I'm not asking like a bunch of questions like why did you, you know, like why did you become an educator if it doesn't, it doesn't? And I think that that's okay. Um and so those are two of the main ways that I try to find and cultivate self care on the trips and of course just fun activities, doing things that we haven't done before um would probably be my last way that I try to be intentional around that. Wonderful, wonderful. I like the idea of, you know, having some down times because sometimes you go and you know, these other group trips and the days are just packed and packed and packed and you don't really have time to just sit back and just kind of just with flags, like, okay, let me just take all this in and really, you know, have some time to myself because, well for me, because I've been on trips where it's been like that um because I don't like to plan trips myself, so I do go on a lot of group trips, but the days are just packed and uh and I'm more of an introvert.
I was just kind of like, I just need like, you know, like a day, a couple hour. Exactly, yeah, just get myself together and then I'll be good, I'll be good. So I really appreciate that. Um And yeah, the second thing you said about not having to always talk about being a teacher being an education because that tends to burn you all sometimes too. Like, you don't want to always talk about your students and you know how the past pandemic year, what you just want to have fun and enjoy yourself, you know, there's a time for, there's a time for all that, so I think those are are great and Yeah, just my, one of my last questions um so name, I know I know you work as a Director of teacher development for uh teacher America, is that correct me if I'm wrong, you know what is correct? Okay, so if you could just name some of your best tips for teachers that would make them successful in the classroom or just to better their craft um what would you suggest?
Yeah, I think the one of the hardest parts of being a teacher is that um and what I always remember when I was a teacher and administrator was that it was just hard to turn it off, like hard to turn off being a teacher is one of the jobs where you go home and you were constantly thinking about that interaction you had with that student that you wish would have went better, that lesson you delivered, that you wish would have went better or the family interaction that you have, that you're like man, I wish that could have been better to uh my main teacher tip our self care tips for being a teacher is really just like turning off on our instagram page, I do these things that are called like like a break checklist, so like a spring break checklist or a winter break checklist or summer break checklist and the first thing that's one of the first things on there is removing yourself from email communication or now they have group chats, whatever that means for you, like putting on, do not disturb or not opening in that tab again. Um, and being very intentional around that and so that's one of the tips that I have for teachers.
I think the second thing is making time for being a human teachers often show up being superheroes all the time. And so how do you show up to be a superhero for yourself? Like how do you just show up in and decide? Like today I need to walk today, I need a glass of wine today, I need to go to the gym that um, and I think the last time is like recognizing what you need to say no, there were time when I was an educator and they're like, you know, I needed to do this thing and it was like a bulletin board and I just had to know for me, I'm just like, no, I just can't like and all the things I just can't like lesson planning, got it buzzing board, not for me right now and I just, I can't and I was okay, like I just had to be okay with that because it wasn't on my list of priorities of things that were important for for me and it wasn't that important for me or for my kids is what I thought for myself at the time. So um, knowing when you need to uh, we need to say no I think is also important, wow.
Yeah, thank you. That's so important. Yeah, knowing when to say no and having your priorities straight because again if you don't have your priorities straight, sometimes it's hard to say no and I think that's one of the biggest things for teachers because you feel like you just have to do everything but again like you said um you just have to get your priorities straight and you know learn how to say no and uh yeah, so thank you. Um I'm going to be looking forward to some of your trips. Can you tell us something that you have upcoming or for the next year? What is some trip that you have? Yeah, so we just wrapped up our Chicago trip. What? It was amazing. So if you have not been to Chicago y'all, I mean it's a beautiful city and I didn't, the last time I went it was the winter time and so I thought I vowed to never go back but someone told me to try again in the summer which I did and it was amazing. Um so love it and so coming up for us, we have a Houston trip that's going to be rolled out in a couple of days for winter breaks or right before, right after christmas but right before new Year, so look out for that um and also a spring break trip To Puerto Rico in 2022.
My goodness, the years of flying. So in 2022. Um so look out for that too. It was a trip that we actually, it was our last planned trip before the pandemic, it was actually like right when the world, Yeah, we were supposed to go, so I decided to bring that one back. A lot of people were excited about it, we had about, I want to say 14 or 15 participants that we're going to come and so I'm excited to sort of roll that one back out and hopefully more people can come this time. Okay, one more quick question. Um Yeah, on average, like how many people do usually have on your trip? Typically between five and six. So a small knit group of educators um Puerto rico was once since I was the last trip, I think by that time we were sort of building some momentum and so a lot more people that wanted to come. Um one because I think it's just learning like no sure it actually is a real person and so uh moments like this definitely help and so um yeah, and there was, we built up this momentum and then the pandemic happened, so it's sort of like starting again for people sort of putting their trust back into us.
Gotcha, gotcha, and where can everyone find you, yep, definitely. So black teachers travel on instagram or you can also visit our website, black teachers travel dot com where we'll be uploading different trips or different experiences, um, photos and experiences from previous trips. So Chicago pictures should be going live, which was a lot of fun. So, tune in there and just make sure you look on our instagram, I'm going to be having some things come with other trip to participants soon where you have the chance to meet some people who have experienced black teacher travels trips in the past, so make sure you are following us on instagram. All right, thank you so much Diarrhea. It was great having you. I'm so glad I got to meet you and took the time to chat with you and so thank you again and hopefully hopefully we can have you back again sometime, definitely, definitely thank you. Some key takeaways from this episode are that number one as teachers, we need to prioritize what's important to us and what's going to move our students.
Number two is take the time to do the things that we enjoy as teachers. So whether that may be traveling, whether that whether that may be dancing, any kind of hobby that we can enjoy as teachers is important. Thank you so much for listening. Don't forget to check out the website Teachers impact dot net. If you found this content helpful, please share favorite and rate on your favorite podcast up. It helps the show to grow, reach more teachers and have an impact on student learning. You can email me at teachers, Impact education at gmail dot com or follow me on instagram at teachers, impact podcast or twitter at Shani Marie oh, happy Learning and Growing.