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One of the reasons Google has been so successful in coming up with innovation after innovation is the environment that they have created for their employees. Google hires talented people (I think we do that too) and then gives these creative individuals 20-percent of their time to work on innovations that they choose (not top-down mandates). Can this work in schools with teachers (and students)?
I think the answer is yes which is why we are throwing out the agenda for our Professional Development Day on Monday. Some teachers have jokingly said that I have mandated creativity. While this is obviously not possible, I have every confidence that this will be better than most days of the previous PD Days where we have mandated other things that typically leave teachers feeling underwhelmed.
The goal for the Monday is simple: Teachers should go work on something that they have thought about working on but have not had the time to do.
It could be collaborating with a colleague in their department or a colleague from another department. It could mean working to get comfortable with one of the countless technology tools available. When I mentioned it at the faculty meeting this past week, I was intentionally vague because I do not want any of my narrow-minded thinking to get in the way of thoughts that staff members might have. The only message that I wanted to come out is that I trust the teachers at my school to be professional and productive without stifling administrative oversight.
I think this may be the best Professional Development Day yet!
For follow-up I created a brief Google Form to get feedback on how the day went with the following questions:
- What did you work on today?
- Explain briefly how your work will impact your classroom teaching?
- What did you think of the format of today's PD day?
We will let you know how it goes.
Here are a couple of articles on Google's 20-percent time:
The Google Way from the New York Times
Google's 20-Percent Factor - ABC News