HACK 8: Passion Projects for adults

empower teachers to control their own learning

When we commit to a project and feel ownership of  it, we feel pride in its impact. Passion projects are a source of pride for their creators, but more importantly, they have a definite impact. The benefits of passion projects’ self-directed, individualized learning transfers from teachers to their students. We want teachers to be thinkers. We want them to be problem solvers because we need them to instill those attributes in their students.

We make an error when we treat professional development as if it is divorced from real practice. In our urgency to improve everything we can, too many initiatives and mandates get imposed, and consequently people have little to no ownership, which has led to disengagement. Though we may not be able to control what happens at the state and national level, we have found a way to value the voice of our staffs by listening and allowing them to drive their learning. We want that for our kids and we need to model it with our instructional leaders. We hired professionals--let’s treat them professionally.

    Discussion Questions

    • Are your teachers better than they were 5 years ago? How do you know? More importantly, how do they know?
    • What steps do you take to ensure staff members own their learning? Do they own it out of passion or compliance? How?
    • How can you allow staff to own the process while still maintaining a common vision for your school? Is that necessary? Why or why not?