Travel is the New Professional Development

In addition to enhancing student learning experiences, studies show travel reduces bias and increases empathy, creativity, and unconventional problem-solving.

It’s summertime! For most teachers, it’s a time to relax, regroup, and re-energize after a year of hard work. For many teachers, it’s also a time to get out and explore. Whether you’re hopping a plane to your dream destination or hitting the road to your family reunion, you can now earn graduate credit through travel with Midwest Teacher Institute’s new E-Adventure course. We know some of you may be thinking, “This is awesome, I’ve been waiting for a course like this!” Others might be wondering, “Can this be real? Is travel really important enough that it deserves graduate credit?” To everyone we say, “Yes, travel is awesome and relevant.” Let’s take a look at why we’re so excited to offer this course and how you can use it to personalize your professional development.

Why Teachers Should Travel

Travel itself can have profound effects on our growth and development as teachers. In the article “The Mental Benefits of Traveling Somewhere New” author Todd Kashdan shares the results of several studies that show travel increases empathy, creativity, and unconventional problem solving. The mere act of travel — handling new and sometimes chaotic situations, relating with others who share a different worldview, and experiencing new activities, foods and traditions— increases a person’s confidence and ability to manage unpredictability. These are all skills teachers need to connect with and engage diverse learners in meaningful ways. Studies also show that experiencing other cultures reduces bias and encourages travelers to reflect on their own values, which leads to a stronger sense of self and purpose. Can you start to see how travel can make us better teachers?

Kashdan goes on to say he believes travel should be an integral part of everyone’s professional development plan: “what workplaces need now are agile people who are comfortable being uncomfortable, understand others’ perspectives, and are able to innovate rather than regurgitate what is already known”. Here at MTI, we couldn’t agree more. What’s even more powerful about travel for teachers is that we have the opportunity to share our journeys — both the physical and transformational ones - with our students. We can incorporate our excitement, knowledge, and new perspectives into our lessons to develop more engaging, relevant curriculum.

Ready? Let’s Go!

Feeling like taking an E-Adventure, but not sure where to start?

Here are a few ideas to inspire you:

1. Take Credit for the Student Trips You Already Lead

If you already lead student travel groups, you know the power and impact of travel. Chances are, you also know how much pre-planning, organizing, and post-trip reflection is required to make these trips happen. A trip to the National Mall, a service trip to communities recovering from natural disasters, a professionally guided tour through Germany and Switzerland — each of these experiences can become the foundation for an E-Adventure course!

Tip: If you’re looking for new adventures for your students, don’t be afraid to think outside the box! The website has lots of creative ideas. Did you know Universal Studios Orlando, Madame Tussauds Wax Museum Nashville, and Coney Island’s Luna Park Amusement all offer unique education tours and programs for students?

2. Turn Your Family Vacation into an Edu-vacation

This one takes a bit of planning, but before you head off to DisneyWorld or the Grand Canyon with the kids, search for nearby experiences and side-trips that could enhance your teaching — you will be amazed at what you can find! Imagine the lessons you could create from materials collected at aviation and flight museums, technology campuses, and local historical sites. Get up close and personal with a tour of local or regional cuisines, music, art and cultural events. Even Disneyland itself provides a great springboard for lessons in history, art, and engineering! With a bit of planning and creativity (and maybe a few extra snacks for the kids) you can combine your personal and professional growth. It’s a win-win!

Quick tip: Make sure to take lots of pictures during your visit and consider recording video narration, too. You can then use these “field notes” to solidify your lessons — and your E-Adventure coursework — once you’re home!

3. Share Your Travel Passion with Your Students

Are you a world traveler or a back roads explorer with a never-ending curiosity about the world and the people around you? If you are, then you already have the foundation for an excellent E-Adventure project! While planning your next trip, take some time to think about how you can bring the culture and experience of your next destination into your teaching. Providing a background into the history, and then sharing a multimedia presentation around your trip, has excellent ties to geography, history, current events, and literature- all depending on the area you visit and the focus you choose!

4. Become an Adventure Scout for Your School

Adventure isn’t about how far we travel, it’s about new experiences in new places — this is true of the E-Adventure course, too. We all know even local class field trips take time and energy; volunteer to plan the next trip and take credit for your hard work! Try visiting a series of potential field trip sites to pick the best one before developing your introductory and follow-up lessons for the big day. Your insider experience and planning will help students make the most of their trip!

Even if you can’t bring your students on a field trip, consider bringing the wonders of your state to your students by building a virtual field trip for them.

Visit the sites you want your students to see, and then use your photos, notes, and resources to bring these places to life virtually in your classroom!

Fun facts: Looking for new local wonders to share with students? Check out the website Atlas Obscura where you can “discover 16,762 curious places—in your neighborhood and around the world”. Just type in the name of your city to find unique sites that may surprise you - right in your own backyard!

To learn more about Midwest Teachers Institute’s E-Adventure Course or register for the class, click on the link below.


Remember, adventure is out there... the graduate credit for it is here with MTI!

Kashdan, T. (2018, Jan. 15). The mental benefits of vacationing somewhere new. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from: