I saw this quote on Twitter this morning – it sums up my approach to teaching so perfectly. Even though it is technically vacation, I just can’t turn off my passion or my ‘job’.
For years I heard some very talented and dedicated teachers bemoan, “We never have time to learn about what we want.” It is true, that during the school year professional development is often aligned to federal, state, district or even school initiatives- that may or may not ignite our passions. This year in my district, we offered EDCamp models during two of our workshops. The teachers shared their passions, explored their interests, and were completely engaged. While there are certainly professional responsibilities, learning, and requirements that must be addressed during school-based workshop days, I will always advocate for more “Genius Hour” opportunities for everyone in our schools.
If you are unfamiliar with the Genius Hour-the approach came from an idea at Google. They allowed their designers to spend 20% of their time to work on any project they wanted. Because of it we have Gmail and many other innovations. The idea is simple: allow employees to focus on their own passion products and productivity will go up. Others have followed by offering employees 60 minutes each week to work on new ideas or master new skills. Many schools are using this approach with their students and incorporating a Genius Hour. You can see a brief overview of this approach here:
I would love to see my schools explore this idea as an approach for professional development during the school year. But for now, I like to think of summer as my Genius Hour. I wake up almost every morning with ideas running through my mind. There are so many aspects of teaching and learning that I am curious to learn more about. There are so many others that I had never thought of until I had this time to explore!
Creating my Genius Hours
I surround myself with books that inspire and engage me. I keep them in my car, by my bed, in my beach bag. I voraciously read picture books, chapter books, YA books, novels, professional books, magazines and articles. There are post-it notes tacked to dozens of pages that may never be revisited, but those significant ideas are now a part of my collective knowledge.
I use social media to follow passionate educators and authors. I set aside some time to peruse Twitter and Facebook for posts that inspire thinking and curiosity. Because I only use Twitter professionally-it is a treasure trove of ideas within a supportive community. With more “free time” I feel no guilt about random browsing. Randomness offers opportunity for serendipitous ideas-these can often be the most mind-expanding!
I write! My blog is one way I write to learn. This final post actually looks nothing like the original. It could have gone dozens of different directions, and morphed several different times as I revised and refined my thoughts. I keep a journal of my personal life and thinking that provides tangible evidence of my existence. I will join Teachers Write again this summer and look forward to an incredibly supportive community of writers as I play with my own creative writing. (Click on the image for more information). Several teachers in my district also plan to get together and continue our own Teachers Write group that we started during the school year.
It’s a simple idea, with incredible potential. Do what you love and you will love what you do. Think of your summers as your Genius Hours. What interests will you pursue? What questions will you answer? What ideas will you explore?
Here’s to many hours of living, loving, and learning! Summer Genius Hours!
What’s on My Book Radar?
Perfect for any Genius Hour! This book by Kate Messner is an amazing resource that I find myself revisiting again and again. This book grew out of Messner’s online summer writing camp, Teachers Write (see link above). If you are looking to develop a writing habit, I can guarantee you will find even more than 59 Reasons to Write with this book! I think every teacher of writing will find this book to be one of the most helpful books in their professional library!