TOP Study Tours
Where do the best lessons in life come from? From Experience!
Experience is what the Transatlantic Outreach Program is all about. Since 2002, TOP has sought to find the best and most qualified social studies and STEM educators and give them the opportunity to experience contemporary Germany in the most dramatic way possible: in person.
From Berlin to Frankfurt, from Stuttgart to Munich, from Hamburg to Kiel, from Dresden to Schwerin, and from Weimar to Leipzig, each corner of Germany is sampled through sight, sound, touch, and taste!
Please follow the steps below to begin your TOP journey!
|Is knowledge of the German language a requirement?
Since TOP works primarily with American and Canadian educators of social studies and STEM subjects, knowledge of the German language is NOT a requirement. German language educators wanting to travel to Germany are encouraged to contact their nearest Goethe-Institut for scholarship opportunities. That said, knowledge of the German language will only enhance your experience abroad.
|Am I eligible to Apply?
Eligible applicants include the following who are employed in the United States or Canada as social studies and/or STEM educators: classroom teachers (grades K-12), general education/elementary educators, university methods professors, curriculum coordinators, principals, applicable curriculum authors, and applicable state Department of Education employees. Instructional coaches, librarians, teaching assistants, part-time teachers, and student teachers are not eligible to apply at this time.
|How do I apply?
Follow the steps below: download the appropriate social studies or STEM application form and use the latest version of Adobe Acrobat Reader software to open the form and follow the instructions.
|How much time does the application take to complete?
Based on the feedback of successful applicants, the process takes an average of 5-10 hours.
|When is the application deadline? How long must I wait to be notified?
Applications must be postmarked on or before Monday, January 27, 2020. Applications will not be accepted by email or fax. Notification letters are typically mailed in March.
|How much does the study tour cost?
TOP pays for most expenses through the support of its public and private partners. TOP pays for most domestic and international transportation fees, hotel accommodation, two meals per day while abroad (usually breakfast and dinner), and any mandatory study tour related fees, such as museum entry, etc. Each participant will have his or her own hotel room.
|When do the study tours take place?
The study tours are two weeks in length and take place during the summer months. The specific tour dates are listed at the top of the application form. Applicants are encouraged to select as many of the available dates as possible.
|How can I improve my chances of being selected?
Your application can be enhanced by leading a TOP professional development workshop. Workshop evaluation forms must be submitted on or before the study tour application deadline to receive credit. Our TOP Toolkit for Professional Development is a useful resource for planning and leading a workshop about contemporary Germany.
|What is the catch?
We ask that all participants come prepared, ready to assume the role of a student and willing to consider new ideas, to proactively engage themselves, to be inquisitive, to be flexible, and to learn as professionals during a fun, yet mentally and sometimes physically intense two weeks in Germany. This is a group study tour. You will spend the majority of your time with the group and there is little free time during the two weeks abroad.
To adequately prepare participants for their study tour, we ask for participation in pre-departure webinars that are important for enhancing background knowledge, setting the stage, and providing a foundation for group cohesion. We also require that participants complete pre-departure reading assignments.
Upon returning from Germany, every participant is required to 1) author an original unit of learning based on the C3 FRAMEWORK and INQUIRY DESIGN MODEL (IDM) format and 2) conduct one TOP professional development workshop at the local district, state, regional, or national level by May 1, 2021. The ‘unit’ may consist of any ‘contemporary-Germany-related’ topics of the participant’s choosing but should be aligned to C3 (College, Career, Civic Life) or NGSS (for STEM) standards for learning with the goal of enhancing and assessing students’ global competence.
|Just how "physically intense" are the study tours?
While groups travel long distances by plane, train, or bus, participants must sometimes walk distances of several miles (or up to 20,000 steps) per day. Punctuality is paramount, so walking briskly is sometimes necessary. Alternative arrangements will be made for participants with disabilities.
Participants are also responsible for their luggage at all times. This can be especially challenging when embarking/disembarking trains. Elevators and escalators are also not omnipresent, and navigating stairways with luggage can be problematic for even the most experienced travelers.
The nature of summer weather in Germany, from hot to cold temperatures to frequent rain, can pose unique challenges to travelers. Please note that air conditioning is not common in Germany. (Neither are ice cubes in drinks.) It is well advised to prepare to "sweat it out" at times. When in Berlin...or Munich...
|What will the travel itinerary look like?
Each study tour is designed with the specific areas of interest of the selected participants taken into consideration. The emphasis will be on contemporary German issues relating to the political system, education system, vocational education, economy, culture, migration and integration, and environmental sustainability. Additional themes of note include the legacy of the Holocaust, German unification, and European integration. The TOP study tours are designed to provide a comprehensive, 360-degree perspective of contemporary Germany.
|May I extend my stay following the study tour?
This policy, also known as the "deviation policy" in travel agency terms, remains dependent on the contractual arrangements made between TOP, its travel agency, and the air carrier providing the service. The deviation policy for the 2020 study tours will be announced to successful applicants in the standard acceptance packet documentation.
|Why is your application format a bit "old" school? Why is not ALL online?
Good question! Certainly one we debate on an annual basis. It basically comes down to our preference to have a physical, hardcopy, application packet that represents a person, a talented and dedicated educator, instead of a row of data in a spreadsheet. We thank you for taking the time to navigate our "old school" format and certainly encourage you to contact us if you experience any technical difficulties.
- Begin the application process sooner than later.
- The application process - excluding the time needed to collect letters - usually takes 5-10 hours.
- Read the entire application form before filling it out.
- Contact TOP if you have any questions.
- Follow all instructions carefully.
- Avoid anecdotal information in your essays.
- Be professional in your essays.
- Let your students / peers / community be your focus.
- Have someone proofread your essays.
- Include all required attachments and nothing more.
- Make copies for your own records.
- Optional: Attach any workshop attendee forms.