This past week our district had two professional development days. No students, only staff.
The first day featured several programs and offerings hosted by our district. The second day was school based, giving Principals control to plan the day. With this in mind, I worked with several staff members to plan a day that would work for teachers. The schedule allowed teachers time to work in their classrooms, to collaborate with each other, and to attend choice PD sessions. As I’ve written about before, teachers also had a one hour lunch so that they could eat a meal like a civilized person.
It was worth it to give teachers the time to think, to create, and to just be. Several colleagues came to me with ideas that they wanted to implement in their classrooms. One of the most promising ideas was a mental health day for students. After mentioning this at a morning session several teachers came together in the afternoon to collaborate and create something new. Coming out of the day we now have a plan for a student wellness and self-care day later this month.
The day had a distinctly creative vibe and it got me thinking. Why don’t we do this more often? How many other businesses have gone to four day work week models and flexible work schedules? The unique role of educators as childcare providers makes this difficult. But what if we did go to a four day model? What if we gave educators the fifth day to collaborate, plan, and create? Students could work independently from home (or not).
Maybe, just maybe, the creativity and energy that I saw from teachers this week would be more common place. Let’s make it happen.