Teacher at Sea helps educators find their inner explorer

Finding your inner explorer can be easier said than done. Sian Proctor, Ph.D., sailed on a fisheries cruise in 2017 through the NOAA Teacher at Sea program, despite being hesitant to handle fish. In a new video offsite link, she revealed how while on the cruise, she overcame her nervousness around working with fish. She has since shared her experiences with other potential Teachers at Sea to help them put any concerns aside. Proctor believes that anyone can be an explorer and that you don’t have to “discover something new for humanity, … you have to discover something new for you.”

Sian Proctor sits in front of an astronaut helmet.

Sian Proctor, Ph.D., and NOAA Teacher at Sea alumna. (Image credit: NOAA Teacher at Sea Program)

While the NOAA Teacher at Sea Program gives teachers the opportunity of a lifetime to join a NOAA research voyage, their experiences don’t end when they step back on land. The Teacher at Sea Alumni Association offsite link (TASAA), managed by the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, includes 850 educators from across the United States who have gone to sea alongside NOAA researchers. TASAA began in 2011 to provide networking opportunities and professional development experiences for these exceptional educational leaders. 

The Teacher at Sea Program has not been able to send educators out on research cruises since 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but they have continued to support the association. TASAA hosted five virtual regional meetings attended by 107 alumni and two virtual book clubs attended by 18 alumni. Since the beginning of the pandemic, TASAA helped 32 educators attend virtual education conferences and awarded mini-grants to 60 educators to help them purchase critical supplies for teaching during the pandemic.

Unexpectedly landlocked during 2020 and 2021 because of the global pandemic, the Teacher at Sea program continued to give educators opportunities for growth and professional development. As Proctor says offsite link, “You can redefine exploration as a personal experience, a personal journey of discovery, then you can see the explorer within.”

For its 10th anniversary, the Teacher at Sea Alumni Association focused on Proctor’s wisdom of “finding your inner explorer” by producing a set of videos on that theme. As a part of a video challenge, twenty-one Teacher at Sea alumni submitted short videos explaining how they found their own inner explorer. Six stories were selected to be produced into featured videos offsite link.