My Personal Learning Book… making sure I’m never too busy to improve

Last week, I asked the question are YOU too busy to improve?

too busy 2

This week I reflect on the question am I too busy to improve?

Last week I claimed that:

The very practices that clutter our time as teachers – finding worksheets, photocopying, “marking”, planning “activities”, finding resources for students, coming up with summative tasks, writing rubrics, mapping out 6 weeks of a unit – are the very practices we would start to let go of and approach differently if we had a deeper understanding of inquiry-based teaching and learning.

Which got me thinking… what are the practice that clutter my day as PYP Coordinator that I might start to let go of or approach differently if I had a deeper understanding of leading through inquiry-based teaching and learning. Furthermore, if I expect teachers to be model inquirers to inspire their students, shouldn’t I then strive be a model-inquirer for the teachers? I think so.

So I’ve decided to put my money where my mouth is and invest the time to further my own professional learning.

Here is an account of how I went about doing it:

First, I invested a few hours scrolling through the following blogs:

What Ed Said

Inquire Within

Just Wondering

Sharing the PYP

and printing off any and every post that related to something I was interested in learning about.

Next, I sorted all the blog posts into piles based on categories (PD, planning meetings, inquiry, leadership, teacher coaching, learning spaces etc)


Then, I organized all the blog posts into sections of a binder to create my very own personalized learning book.

 binder 1

Now anytime I have 5-10 free minutes I can pull out my binder and go through pre-screened learning materials that are directly related to areas of my own personal growth and interest.

binder 2

Sure, it was a lot of initial time up-front going through the blogs and printing out the posts of interests. But now that that job is done, I have a huge collection of hand-picked resources tailored to my own professional areas of growth. As I reflect, I realized I could have probably saved a lot of trees if I had tried to make an e-version of this learning book, but I have to admit that I love having the paper copies that I can hold and hilight! Maybe next time I will push myself to figure out how to create a digital version.

Already, I have found that having this personalized learning book has been a great way ensure that I’m never too busy to improve. And I am starting to see my investment of time pay off!

I used to spend hours each week anticipating what teams should be talking about in their collaborative planning meetings and creating agendas for them.

Now I build in time at the end of each meeting to allow the teachers to build their own agenda for their next collaborative planning meeting based on what they want and need to discuss.

I used to spend hours organizing the logistics of peer observations for our 125 PYP staff members.

Now I let the teachers choose what they want to learn about, who they want to learn from, when they are going to complete their visit and how best they will record their learning.

We (myself and the leadership team) used to spend hours each week planning “activities” for Tuesday night staff meetings and half day PD sessions.

Now we (myself and h_sopierce) have begun to work on a plan to allow teachers to own their own learning through a structure of personalized inquiry time.

These 3 changes came from shifts in my own thinking, inspired by what I read in my personalized learning book and demonstrate that beautiful balance of more meaningful, enjoyable learning for the students teachers and less busyness and needless prep for the teacher PYP Coordinator.

How do you make sure that you’re never too busy to improve?

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