Today’s message is shared by early childhood coach Eliana Elias, co-author with Olga Lacayo of The Art of Troublemaking | El arte de crear problema.
How do you reinvent yourself as a professional? How do you purposefully stay open to new ideas and points of view? I believe that professional learning is a journey that should remain open to surprises and ‘detours.’ When embarking in this lifelong journey, be prepared to challenged, inspired and transformed. Reading professional books and articles, joining Professional Learning Communities, joining classes, podcasts or webinars, and reflecting on our own learning makes us better professionals in ways that might be hard to quantify. In our article "Aoteraoa New Zealand Inspires Us to Reinvent Ourselves," Margie Carter, Ijumaa Jordan and I explore the impact of study tours as a vehicle for professional development. Traveling to a different context has allowed us to explore new ideas and to reflect together on our own contexts at home. In the words of our New Zealand colleague Chris Bayes, study tours offer a chance to "explore someone else’s ordinary as our extraordinary," bringing us a fresh look into our own organizations, schools, cities and communities.
Whether we leave home or not, whenever we seek out new ideas or influences, as we suggest in the article, "consider and contextualize, don’t consume." In other words, rather than replicate what others are doing, we invite you to see others’ work and contexts as inspiration to reflect on your own, seeing new opportunities in the unique qualities and resources of your own programs and communities.
Elias will be leading another Aoteraoa New Zealand Inspire Study Tour this April.
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Thanks, Francis. I agree—traveling with an open mind is one of the best teachers there is. I know it's certainly expanded and refined both my professional and personal perspectives, and I'm ever grateful I've had that privilege.
In the summer of 1973, I traveled with a friend by public transportation and hitch-hiking from the US to Costa Rica (and was almost apprehended by Samosa's thugs). Since then, I have lived in the Highlands of Guatemala, and traveled many times to different parts of Brazil. As someone raised in England and now living in the US, I thrilled at the opportunity to explore a variety of non-Anglo cultures. As a result of all my traveling, I have learned about cultures, colonialism, racism, education, language, exploitation, different ways societies stratify their citizens, music, art, and dance. But maybe most importantly I have learned about the US. I have learned that what we do here - from education to racial categories to ideas of liberation, etc., are NOT universal and are NOT held by other societies - and that one of our major faults is believing that what we do IS the only way! It's given me a wonderful perspective of the human condition. But I am not sure that it has anything to do with professionalism, whatever that is.