Tag Archives: Daniel Pink

…pro-d & prep-time – take-a-way 2 from #21stedu – part 3…

When was the last time you had an hour of no-questions-asked time at work to get to the list of things you never get to?  Or to start working on a task that’s been on the back-burner all year?  Or were given paid release time to ‘play’ on or with anything that had to do, ever-so-slightly, with your job?  Well, Google-Time does just that – they give their employees 20% of their time to work on para-work items.  This blog explains it well.

Along the same line as Google-Time, in his most recent book, Drive, one of my favourite authours, Daniel Pink (A Whole New Mind) unpacks the idea of the FedEx Day which was invented by the folks at the Australian software company Atlassian.  There, FedEx Days gave employees permission to work on any project they wanted to, as long as it wasn’t part of their regular job.  The only condition: they had to show what they’ve created to their colleagues 24 hours later.

“But isn’t that very expensive?  Having to hire one extra person for every four employed? Or giving up productivity for these non-work days?”  Yes, but the results say that Google’s employees are just that much more productive in their regular 80% time, and, they have generated some pretty amazing ideas during that 20% time.  Now, I am not proposing 20% time for educators – I only use this as an example to question the amount of time (often the result of how much we appreciate/value/commit to something – time & money) we provide our staff with preparation & release time.

My last post shared my #1 take-a-way from the Vancouver Symposium of 21st Century Christian Education as being Planning.  Today I share my #2 – Professional Development & Teacher Preparation/Release Time.

One of the largest issues that struck me at this year’s symposium was the vast amount of change that is making its way into schools & classrooms – specifically technological options and tools.  In building from my first take-a-way where I realize & admit my responsibility to grow & communicate vision & planning, I must make sure the plans I have for my school include appropriate processing/play/exploration/training time for my staff.

Dr. Barrett Mosbacker, Superintendent of Briarwood Christian Schools, made the comment that any new technology in his schools is sure to be in the hands of teachers for 6-14 months before it makes its way into the classroom.  Wow.  I’ve heard that statement from him twice in the past 2 months and both times it put me back in my seat with goosebumps.

On one hand, I hear his desire to make sure the implementation of new technology goes well.  He was clear that technology is a tool that enhances instruction & learning – not replaces it.  On the other hand, I would hope a policy like that doesn’t get in the way of a great innovative or user-friendly technology that could see itself adopted quickly with strong impact.  For this last point, I trust the leadership and staff at Briarwood to make appropriate decisions regarding curricular implementation & introduction.

Because change is so rampant with new tools popping up daily, in terms of prep-time and pro-d I must re-evaluate:

  • the time (minutes) & method (purposefulness & activity) of the prep/release & pro-d time Heritage provides our staff
  • individual & collaborative time provided
  • implicit & explicit goals & expectations that are communicated
  • the process in which pro-d is chosen & delivered/created/explored
This week I had the pleasure of spending a large amount of time in two classrooms for the evaluation of two teachers.  It was a pleasure to see them work with their kids.  After spending 80 minutes in their room I also had an hour-long sit-down with them individually to go through the notes I generated.  Since these were both experienced teachers it was very much a peer-to-peer process full of great dialogue & encouragement with a bit of food-for-thought.  One teacher, though, said this time together was the best pro-d he’d experienced since his pre-service time.  That was a flag for me.  Although I was glad to hear that this time was meaningful, it made me realize the opportunity & responsibility I have to be doing a similar activity in all my classrooms with all my teachers.  The simplicity of having another set of eyes in the classroom with the intention of “what would you like me to look for today?” can lead to such meaningful dialogue about purposeful teaching for that group for that course.
When was the last time you had a peer in your work-space providing observation, feedback, and discussion?  Was this helpful or not?  What would be meaningful pro-d for you right now?