Give 20%!


“Each of us has a unique and deep-seated combination of beliefs, needs, desires, and sensibility—not necessarily wholly conscious, but nonetheless a vision—that guides our life.” – Anne Kreamer

(author of Risk/Reward: Why Intelligent Leaps and Daring Choices are the Best Career Moves You Can Make)

I was visiting with a group of education friends recently and our discussion turned towards professional development, personal investment, and sustained career passion. Essentially we wondered if it was the responsibility of management to develop employees or if employees should be free to pursue what most inspires them with the blessing (or not) of their managers.

“In the education space, should professional development be left to administrators or should principals, teachers, and even students  be allowed to go after what inspires them most? “

I know the idea of “genius hour” is not a new one. Still, while I would say that genius hour is something that has been embraced for sparking student imagination, it is typically not considered a regular means of teacher professional development. That thought had me wondering, when we think of 21st century teaching and learning, where is our vision for teacher and principal development? 

My friends and I agreed that in many cases, administrators may not know what truly motivates their teachers and principals and many may be too busy to dig deeply into the issue. Sure, there are some Professional Development topics that are non-negotiable but then there are all of the other after (or before or during) school meetings that could be used to allow teachers and principals to grow on their own. With that in mind, why not free teachers and principals to develop themselves? Teachers and principals are aware of what most inspires them but where is their avenue for pursuing those interests at work?  Genius hour would allow these education leaders to spend 20% of their PD time pursuing what matters most to them and then…sharing it with others in their building and EVEN sharing it with other buildings in their districts. Talk about a culture and leadership builder! Think about it. We want teachers and building leaders to be invested in the work. We can get that when we let these same people know that we are equally invested in them. Remember, to lead is to constantly learn and while others may not tell you the truth, I always will. Everyone needs the opportunity to grow and while you may be thinking money the truth is an investment of time is equally as valuable. If you want to create strong leaders, give them the time to develop and an audience to hear out their ideas. – Dr. Kia

Resource to explain Genius hour to your teachers and principals. This is from a student lens but they will DEFINITELY get the point if you show it to them!