What kind of difference can fifteen minutes make?
Yesterday, I was delighted to chat via Skype with David Jakes, Patrick Higgins, John Maklary, Robin Ellis, and Joel Adkins during a workshop for Teacher/Leaders in our district. The theme of our workshop was connections and how teacher leaders in a school help begin epidemics, springing off the idea of connectors, mavens, and salesmen in Malcolm Gladwell’s book The Tipping Point.
During the conversation, we talked about the benefits of connecting with other educators, but also some of the obstacles. David Jakes’ comment particularly resonated with me. He commented that he refused to accept the statement that there isn’t enough time. He asked if we couldn’t make 15 minutes in our day for learning for ourselves.
I’ve been thinking about that whole issue of time for teachers. Educators are very accustomed to taking care of others, and sometimes we forget to put the oxygen masks on ourselves first, as the cliche goes.
And while I know that our time is finite, hearing David’s challenge caused me to ponder what it would be like for each educator to carve out that fifteen minutes, to sit with a cup of coffee and just learn something–to create that “space” for ourselves, instead of dashing about declaring we don’t have enough time to learn or add one new thing.
It strikes me that by making that time in our day, setting some boundaries for it, and making it a routine, we could each build a practice that was rewarding both in terms of learning, but also in terms of supporting ourselves.
This time of year, it’s sometimes hard to get going in the mornings. Many mornings I think of the scene in All That Jazz, when Roy Scheider prepares for work the same way each morning, and at the end of his somewhat bleary-eyed routine, stands in front of his mirror and says, “It’s showtime, folks.”
But I’ve found a way to motivate myself by listening to podcasts on the way to work. My commute isn’t very long–in fact, it’s just 15 minutes. But in that fifteen minutes, I learn from some of the best educators in the world, some of the best writers for the New York Times, and I always walk away with an idea to try, or a new way to think of things, and then I can’t wait to get into the library. So I know the difference that fifteen minutes can make.
Carrying that idea further, what if we provided personal “learning time” the same way we utilize “uninterrupted sustained silent reading” time in classrooms? We could call it “uninterrupted sustained silent learning.” What would it be like to hand that time to students and to teachers in a school as a principal, and say, this is your fifteen minutes? This is YOUR time to learn what YOU need to learn.
So….what would you do with your fifteen minutes?
Thanks again to David, Joel, Patrick, Robin and John for joining us yesterday–as always the conversation has deepened my own thinking.
(Postscript: And in some random coincidence, when I was linking to David’s blog to add to this post, I discovered he had written a post about the Tipping Point–I hadn’t even realized that when I invited him to participate in our workshop!)