Thursday, January 31, 2008

Budget Cuts

Jeff Utecht suggests that a school schedule teachers for "google time". I know the city is cutting budgets, but imagine a world where classrooms and schools were linked via 2.0 technology. Schools show what is important by what fills lines in their budget. The Queens High School of Teaching values DEAR and ADVISORY. What might a school which values social networking look like? Here is an excerpt from his blog.

I found myself wanting to be involved in helping schools define their future. I have a passion for sharing and teaching others and love to watch teachers and students alike get excited and hear that passion spark in them around new ideas they can use in their schools and classrooms. That was ‘different’, that was exciting.

The only issue then was how do you continue to affect change in a school and have time to explore a niche that is just starting to emerge (or that you hope emerges)?

You need time, time to explore, to think, to reflect. That time can not be added onto what you already do, it has to be part of what you do. It should be part of what we do in education. So I set out to explore schools that would challenge me professionally within the system and at the same time allow me to explore options and learning outside the system. This explore time would come to be known as “Google Time.” As I talked to schools, I pitched the idea of allowing me 20% of my time to explore other options outside of my regular duties. My thinking was twofold, not only did I want 20% time, but I also wanted to be a part of a school that I felt was heading in a positive direction, and that I was excited about. After all, 80% of my time is still working within the system affecting change in that organization and with students and teachers. That school, then, needed to understand who I was and what I could offer.

Google Time

How do you sell Google Time to a school? How do you help administrators understand that this time would not only benefit oneself as an educator but would then also benefit the school?

Google Time allows an employee time to explore, take risks, learn, network, and create opportunities. Some, if not most of these opportunities, will affect the employee in deep and meaningful ways. Whether it is taking time to create networks, write, play with new software, read about new theories, or just explore the world around them, this time adds value to employees and the time they spend on the other 80% of their job. Add to that the opportunity for those employees to build a social presence within networks on the web, this also brings something back to the school (think free marketing, too).

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