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  • Amy Peach

Voice Acting, Pet Toy Franchising, and other adventures in Genius Hour

I've used some variation of 20% time in my college classes for several years now but it wasn't until I began teaching Innovation Mindset that it truly became a central component of learning. As this week's guest, Kyle Elmendorf, points out, we learn so much about our students as people, the communities in which we live, and ingenious new endeavors by creating space in our curriculum for a year-long structured project like this. We let the students take the wheel and all we have to do is sit back, say yes, and guide them to greatness. And it really is that simple. But notice I didn't say it was easy.


In reality, it's fucking exhausting.


Every time I take this on, I am so enthusiastic. Watching students go through the experience of selecting and deploying a self-guided project is thrilling and really connects me to the reason I did this work in the first place. By the last week of the session, however, my eyes are bloodshot and I'm plotting my revenge at my husband who keeps throwing paper in the trash instead of the recycling bin.


And yet, a term or two passes, amnesia sets in, and my eyes regain their twinkle as we start the process all over again. I may have already scared you off but stick with me. I think the most telling thing I can share about my conversations with teachers at all levels who use this strategy is this: despite the fact that our stories sound relatively similar, we go right back for more. Every. Damn. Time. Because in the end it's worth it. We know we'll figure out a way to make it more manageable eventually but the charge we get from this experience makes all of it worthwhile.


Kyle shares his boots on the ground experience with this in his own classroom in the podcast and he has some great tips to help make the experience work no matter your subject or grade level. You can follow Kyle and learn more about his work and speaking on both Twitter and Insta!

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