We never have enough time.
We are constantly pulled in all sorts of directions.
There are many excuses that we can make.
There are a hundred other things that we can do instead.
But, it’s always a mistake when we do that.
As educators, dedicating time to professional learning is the single most important thing that we can do to improve our craft.
So, the question becomes: How do we find time to dedicate to professional learning?
If you are focusing on work that matters, I believe it can be accomplished in just four hours per week.
While this schedule may not work for everyone, it can provide a template for how to devote time each week to the important tasks of professional development and professional learning.
Try it as is or adapt it to meet your own needs.
Start with a 1 Hour Twitter Chat or Podcast each week. There are many amazing Twitter Chats to join. Try #satchat to touch base with great educational leaders each Saturday morning or #G2Great for great literacy discussion on Thursday nights. If you are looking for some great podcasts, try #PodcastPD, Curious Minds, Revisionist History, My Bad, The Accidental Creative, or Why I Write. Listening to one of these podcasts or participating in a Twitter chat for one hour each week will help to expand your sphere of influence, and allow you to bring new ideas to the classroom.
Consider a 1 Hour Meet & Greet with other educators weekly. Try #CoffeeEDU for a very informal discussion with other educators over coffee or set up a #PatioPD event where you can join other educators in a casual setting to expand your professional knowledge. Even sitting and engaging in one on one discussion with a colleague can help you to improve your learning so that you can improve learning for students as well.
Commit to 15 Minutes of Professional Reading (almost) every day. This one seems obvious, but not enough educators commit time to professional reading. Just 15 minutes a day, whether it’s a book, blog, magazine article or other resource, can help you to grow professionally as an educator. Find a morning or evening routine that works for you, or even model reading while your students are committing to their own reading.
Find 30 Minutes to Research & Plan each week. Whether it’s a new unit of study you are working on, or a new project you’d like to bring to your students, leaving 30 minutes for research and planning purposes will help you to actually integrate your new ideas into your classroom. If you try to come up with one new idea each week to execute, you may be able to introduce students to some great new learning experiences. Leave time for yourself to research and plan your new idea, and possibly share with other colleagues who may be interested in collaborating.
Finally, spend 30 Minutes Journaling or Blogging each week. This may be the most important time that you commit to your own professional learning. Reflection is a key step in processing your learning. By writing down your reflections in a journal, or better yet, sharing those reflections with the world by blogging, you can contemplate, consider, and give critical thought to how and why you are doing things the way you are. Start by answering some basic questions. What went well this week? What did not go so well? How can I improve for next week? By committing to writing down this information, even if you don’t share, you will commit to improving as an educator.
Finding time for everything that needs to be done can be rather difficult, but educators should not sacrifice their own professional learning. By committing about 30 minutes per day, you can continue to improve opportunities for your own professional learning!