All of us are pressed to find time for ONE. MORE. THING. Those who say we keep banker's hours do not see the work we do outside of the schools. I was joking recently with my colleagues Holly Weimar and Karin Perry. We resolve to keep weekends for more personal endeavors. But on the Easter weekend, we still found time for grading, answering emails, participating in an online chat, and working on our various projects. The truth is, with technology at our fingertips, we tend to be even busier outside of the classroom. So, how do we address the lack of time?
1. I catch up with Twitter and Facebook and emails while I am sipping my coffee in the morning. I am a morning person (don't hate me; after years of having to get kids on the bus, I have learned to function well before the sun comes up even on the weekend and even now that College Girl is set to graduate next month from college). Scout sits with me. I pet him with one hand while I scroll. If I need to type something, I give him a treat so I can free up the other hand for a few minutes.
2. Place things that are routine on your calendar. I am in charge of posting to our listserv each month, so I have an alert set up to remind me the day before. I have urged folks to do the same with setting a priority for reading. Carve out those 10-15 minutes, place them on the calendar. Set alerts. Do this for weeks until it becomes more of a habit.
3. Find a partner in crime who will read with you and with whom you can discuss the reading.
The bottom line is that we all find time to do something we find rewarding.
Yes, it is expensive to join professional organizations. I belong to ILA, NCTE, ALA, and various subgroups of these national organizations as well as their state equivalents. I attend the conferences as much as I can. Much of the expense is out of my own pocket though my department has funded some of the travel. I put monies aside for professional travel, too, because I want to have the FTTF experiences. But there are some alternatives.
1. There are online resources. Webinars are often free or inexpensive. Karin Perry and I do a video a week for professional development. Stenhouse places its new books online so educators can preview them (yes, the entire book, go look). Others place chapters. Many journal articles are available through JSTOR and libraries and even free in PDFs online.
2. Resources can be shared. Someone can subscribe to Voices from the Middle, another English Journal, etc. Then, swap and share.
3. Apply for grants. There are 3 grants to attend the ALAN Workshop. There are grants to develop classroom library collections. Often PTOs and local vendors offer help.
I know I am not solving all of the problems here. I know the challenges are real. After 40 years teaching, I have had to climb lots of hols. BUT I do know that my active professional involvement has more than paid off for me.
May I offer one more suggestion for the choir (I know I am preaching to the choir, believe me)? When you read something you think needs to be shared, share it. Send the link to like-minded folks but also to new teachers, administrators, parents, etc. Let's share our knowledge. Let's spread the wealth. Let's keep active in our profession.