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The Greatest Pleasure of “Being on the Road” — a Journey of Professional Learning for Teaching

Updated: Aug 13, 2023

Thinking about life itself, I have come up with a genius idea for the ultimate development: being on the road. Just like life itself, our own being in the world is a road that we love feeling like it is never coming to an end; so why should our professional development? Why does rejection to die never work the same way for the rejection of being a complete teacher?

Maybe the killing idea is when we have the feeling of climbing to the top of a mountain. And for sure someday we need to get there. Here we are! The best teacher in an institution. The best one is in the teachers’ room. The best version of our own. We are done. On the top of the mountain. Period!

But there is something conflicting here. Teaching is not like other professions. We don’t write the same documents or run similar financial operations. We don’t simply talk to people in a classroom, but we rather socialize. That’s how teaching works. Just like the idea that how we learn is what we learn; how we teach is what learners learn. We actually need to take positions for moment-to-moment occurrences. Then the idea is that we need to evolve any time, any moment we continue teaching. Don’t we take a million decisions in one single lesson? Isn’t any lesson a new one like no other before? It is true that we sometimes plan one lesson to teach a few classes, but is it the same experience all the time? I hear you saying a big no! Then the conflict is upfront when we think we do the same job every day. It is not simply a routine restarting when we close the door of the class; it is time to act, listen, talk, decide, sense, see, feel and do much more in order to reach a goal in 45–50 min time. It is a piece of life with so much unexpected.

Another conflict arises when we ask students to learn and develop all the time. Because that’s the key to success. We tell them passing a class or graduating is just the beginning of the whole journey of having a career. Very true. But this great piece of inspiration fades away with our fossilizing thoughts on our own professional development. That means we tell something we don’t embrace. We advise really enthusiastically because we know it is true. We have been there! However, we never tell them we are “done” developing, are we? Why not? Haven’t we climbed enough? Aren’t we the embodiment of what we call success? If not, then what are we talking about?

Maybe the key idea is the difference between reality and our feelings. Our schools are packed with kids who “feel” they will pass the class, but do zero in “reality”. Maybe, we only feel that success comes with continuous effort; but little is done on the road. Similarly, the tricky nature of professional development is a never-ending phenomenon. Put a mic on and ask 100 teachers the question: “Is professional development important?”. You will hear 90+ saying “very important” with another 5–7 saying “yes, sure”. Don’t put the mic off and ask again: “How much do you do to develop professionally?” Most of the time the same eagerness is nowhere to be found after that one.

Not to blame teachers, most administrators keep pushing their teachers for professional development. Never-ending pressure, point-scaled PD frames, projects, projects, and other projects. The name becomes bigger in this respect “PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT”. And, of course, this comes down to pretending, if not avoiding, doing PD at all. Bye-bye progress.

I have an idea to decrease the pitch of this tone: the pleasure of being on the road. This idea prioritizes a solid psychological start in which teaching professionals enjoy being on the road by selecting their own developmental paths, rates, routes, and peers in this endeavor. The idea is to achieve and experience just a different milestone each time. One at a time. Baby steps. Do you only want to use the books effectively? OK, start with whichever book you like. Do you only want to read? Do it! Do you want to interview your colleagues during your coffee breaks? Well thought, go ahead!

It is true that I am developing at the very moment of writing this piece. Thinking is also developing. OK then I had better keep on! In fact, I do not believe there is any teacher that won’t enjoy being on the road. They might hate the car, the curves, the lights but never being on the road. The intimidating part is not “developing”, but the expected “outcome”. It sounds so bigger than it really is. I remember hearing great grammar teaching stories from my friends and using these ideas in my own classes. How happy I was. A mini coffee talk with lots of merits. We were not only having a coffee, but we were also on the road.

Therefore, let’s not prioritize the expected part of this development but the joy embedded in being on the road. Packing a suitcase, running the car, or the pleasure of setting off in the morning. You are the drivers, remember. Hit the gas non-stop or remember to have breaks at times. But road is a road. You will reach a town, then another one, then another. This is just like teaching classes, one after another. Stay to yourself, feel it, do it.

Let me stop delivering lip service but give some thoughts on being on the road. Ready? Let’s run the engines:

Remember that there are thousands of teachers we can talk to and learn from. Catch them on the road.

Remember that a class is a teacher’s lab. Many ideas will flourish in any class. Be aware, take notes, inquire about puzzles and success. Catch your next class on the road.

Do you like taking selfies in your journeys? Take another one in the class. Videotape/audiotape yourself. See how feelings and reality can be really different. Catch your best shots on the road.

Try out presenting one great lesson of yours to your colleagues. It is just like showing your memories from the last summer vacation. See how much they appreciate your ways. Ask for more memories from their side and ask how they see your journey. Catch your audience on the road.

Listen to students periodically. What do they like/hate doing in your classes? Are you a good driver? Never step back from changing your ways. Show them how not to criticize people but to give feedback for work. Give your feedback to them first to walk the talk. Catch them on the road.

Keep something to read in the glove compartment. It is magical that somebody saves years of experience and piles them up in one single book, article, or blog. Catch the brains on the road.

Tune in for a great journey ahead. It will never come to an end. Drive and walk, it is pleasurable. There is no harm involved on the road, just ups and downs. Do the things you feel doing on the road. Visit the places you feel like visiting.

Teachers are life-long learners. When we don’t learn, how can we expect the students to learn? Would anyone take service from a dentist with bad breath? No way!

Stay on the road! It is good.

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