Two steps forward ...

20% Time is fabulous, engaging, inspirational, provocative!  All this is true. It is also frustrating, challenging, discouraging, dispiriting. But so is life. And life is learning.

Three of my classes are deep into working on their 20% Time projects, so I found the topic for this past Sunday’s #caedchat, a weekly Twitter chat for California educators, to be a timely lifeline. Much to my relief, many participants echoed my feelings about the many virtues and obstacles, both predictable and unpredictable that grace/plague 20% Time, or Genius Hour. But through all the great suggestions for how to engage that small percentage of reluctant learners or how to hit the balance of challenge vs failure that inspires without demoralizing, educators’ passion for 20% Time shone bright and hot.

At the very least, 20% Time helps students to view their world a little differently, as a place of possibility, of problems that can be solved, of processes that can be improved. At its best, 20% Time provides students with the skills and confidence to become masters of their own learning. In the process, with the support of the classroom teacher and, often, outside mentors, students laugh, cry, discover, try, fail, interview, recalibrate, collaborate, ask, answer, and mostly succeed.

I commend the curious to peruse this site for inspiration and to consult Joy Kirr’s Livebinders for specifics. I also encourage everyone to start NOW, with babysteps, to find ways to provide students with more choice. Then, maybe next quarter or next semester, devote 20% Time for even just a month or two. I can virtually guarantee that educators will be hooked and students, perhaps confused at first, will become enthusiastic.

Start today to Make Good Stuff and Share.

Teresa Ozoa
English Teacher
University High School, Irvine, CA

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Twitter: @TOzoa