Professional Learning: A Road Trip Adventure

IMG_3115.PNG-1A few summers ago I had the brilliant idea of taking my nephews on a road trip to Newfoundland. Ok, so maybe it wasn’t so brilliant to take two kids who had never left the province or stayed in a hotel on a 14 day road trip but I promise we ended up having a good time. Thank goodness for my mother’s willingness to tag along. I started planning right away; looking for different stops, activities, landmarks to visit on and off the beaten track. Despite all my planning I found some of our most memorable moments were not planned: spending an hour sorting through fossil imprinted rocks, having a moose cross our path at dusk, having paper airplanes be destroyed by the strong coastal winds, standing in the reeds behind my great grandmother’s cottage.

I wonder if professional learning isn’t a little like our crazy east coast road trip. Could what makes a good road trip make a good professional learning journey?

  • A good road trip is filled with a variety of memorable moments. When I think of our east coast road trip I think what made it great was the variety of activities from the planned, the quasi-planned and the completely spontaneous. In the same way our professional learning journeys require a variety of moments from the inspirational keynotes, to the practical after school workshops, the ongoing inquiries with our colleagues or a critical friend that we trust asking the hard questions, along with the tweets and Instagram posts. The depth of our professional learning journey lies in the variety of experiences.
  • It’s not about the destination but the journey. A road trip like ours had many amazing moments, but it was great because those moments happened in between sing alongs in the car and crazy I spy games. I think earlier on in my career I equated professional learning with the moments that were offered to me instead of understanding that professional learning is what comes from my reflection and application of those moments along the way.
  • No two road trips are the same. Someone else could have followed the same path that we took, stopped at the same stops and yet have had a completely different trip. In the same way our professional learning journeys are personal. We bring our past experiences, our passions, our learning moments along the way.

What do you think? Is professional learning a moment or a journey? Is there one form that is better than others or is it in the variety that we truly grow?

Love to hear your thoughts!

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One thought on “Professional Learning: A Road Trip Adventure

  1. Professional learning is definitely a journey! Having now entered the second half of my teaching career I realize this more and more. The experiences and professional learning I’ve sought in recent years has been unscripted – not typical workshop style rather discussions and collaboration with colleagues, Twitter chats, etc. This self-directed format has been so incredibly beneficial to me so much so that I truly feel I’ve grown twofold as a 21st century teacher and learner. As soon as professional learning is mandated and scripted it loses its value because it is forced upon you (in my opinion). It is continuous self reflection that keeps me searching for new ways to embrace 21st century teaching and learning. I don’t know what the final destination will be but am certain that the self reflection journey that gets me there will be amazing.

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