I was sitting in Starbucks, listening to music, and reading blogs, when I came upon Amber Teamann’s post titled, “Collaboration…who doesn’t have time?” I thought about her post, and linked it to my own thoughts on collaboration, and honestly, sometimes our over-emphasis on collaboration in schools. We tend to swing from one extreme to another in education, and I think about my own experience in the profession.
As I have become older, I have become more of an introvert, and my time sitting in a coffee shop, with headphones on, NOT talking to anybody has become pretty important to my development as a learner. Many schools have adopted “common planning time”, with the idea that it is beneficial to work in teams to learn from one another while also ensuring that we work together to create the best learning opportunities for our students, shifting away from “prep” time alone. In my opinion, a balance is important. I need time bouncing ideas off of people and having conversations, but it is so necessary for me to make my own connections to my learning. If you think about a teacher’s work, you are spending the majority of your time with students, then on the times, you are in meetings or professional learning with others. Where do we have built in time for reflection, connecting, or processing, which are so crucial to our learning? If we don’t build that in to our own professional time, why would we build it into our classroom time?
Years ago, I heard of a school that actually had two hours a month on a professional learning day where you were NOT allowed to talk to anyone else on staff. No conversations, no phone calls, no emails. You were on your own. Some people might hate the idea, but in a time where our lives are seemingly becoming faster, the idea of slowing down seems kind of nice.
I spent the weekend with a friend and he was talking to his son about his “quiet” time later in the day. It wasn’t a time for a nap (necessarily), but just about having some time to be on his own, for his development, not just for the sake of being alone. It really got me thinking about our time as professionals, Would slowing down, having some time to process, connect and reflect on our own be as crucial as collaboration for our growth? Is that time built into our school year? I think in an “always on” world, the opportunity to just be on your own for some time is crucial.