20% Time for Teachers

Google allows for 20% of employees time to be spent on a "passion" project. PD time could be given for a teacher's passion project.

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Over the past few years, I have spent countless hours and dollars of my own time researching Independent Reading and how to use it to help students become successful and literate readers.  I bought and read books on the subject.  I tried out strategies and discarded or continued them as I tested their effectiveness.  I worked on how to create the most effective reading environment for 3-5 grades.  I collaborated with like-minded colleagues during our own time in the summer or other breaks.

Now I am spending a like amount of time and money on creating the same type of math environment.  

Google found that giving employees 20% time to follow passion projects allowed for greater innovation as well as created a climate of creativity within their company.  Imagine what that creativity and innovation could do for education.  Many teachers have taken this idea into Genius Projects for their students.

What if 20% of PD for one year was slotted for passion projects?  Then, at the end of the year a forum could be held where teachers would present their projects.  


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It's been reported that 20% time at Google is a myth – at least in practice. That doesn't lessen its potential to inspire powerful PD, though. (http://www.businessinsider.com/google-20-percent-time-policy-2015-4) A related project, which I did while teaching at the NYC iSchool, is called FedEx Day because you have to "deliver something overnight." We occasionally spent a full day of PD focusing on a problem that's compelling to us  – anything from working on the sex ed curriculum to creating a social committee to redesigning the teachers' lounge. It's been written about widely, but check out http://www.danpink.com/2011/07/how-to-deliver-innovation-overnight/. 

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