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Inner Drive: Spark a Wildfire!

Posted by on in Education Leadership
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I’m a workaholic. I admit it. Unfortunately, I’m not sure there is a course or a support group out there that would fit into my schedule! It is the summer, and while it is time to rest and get some much-needed projects completed around the house, I find this to be a fantastic time to rejuvenate another way - through my own learning and professional projects. For me, the summer is a mixture of great family time, home projects and cleaning, and my professional growth.

Professional learning is ongoing at all points in the year, but the summer is my time to read many books and reflect, while also exploring more research and ideas than I have time for during the school year. So, here is my to-do list.

  • Hang out with the boys & my husband (A LOT!!!)

  • Visit family from out of town

  • Clean the house, wash windows, catch up on yardwork

  • 6 books to read

  • Study for the GRE and hopefully take it - I’m going to be starting my PhD in the fall of 2016

  • Facilitate 3 summer book studies for staff

  • Blog at least once a week

  • Complete Google Educator Certification, at least the first level

  • Prepare for the IntegratED Conference - co-organizer

  • Attend Google EdCamp

  • EdCamp Global facilitator of 2 sessions

  • Prepare flipped staff videos for the start of school

  • Prepare district administrator leadership academy presentation

  • Paint 3 areas in our house

  • Twitter, Voxer, and a little more Twitter...

I don't strive to complete all of this because I HAVE to. I do it because I WANT to.

At some point, a few would say I am supposed to “rest and relax”, but for me, I enjoy this. I’m not creating this list for accolades or acknowledgement. This is simply my list to do, and it includes all of the things I enjoy doing. I make the time for them, not because I have to, but because I want to.

In reading the book, Drive by Daniel Pink, I’m intrigued by what he calls the third drive, our inner drive. I suppose this is what drives me. I don’t get paid for any of the items on my list. I don’t need to do any of these items. If I decided not to, it wouldn’t hurt my job in any way. I’ve made the choice TO work on these items, whether I complete all of them or not, to better myself. I want to be the best in what I do, and by learning, reflecting, and growing, I feel I am working toward this. I also fully know that I will never be the best, but my goal is to continually strive to be better for my family and my school.


Summer is my opportunity for complete autonomy over my tasks, and I have the time to do it. I am self-directed in these goals, and I personally set them. These are the keys to what Pink describes as "Motivation 3.0". I truly see the power in our inner drive. I am excited to wake up each day, preparing for what I want to accomplish, and making it happen.

Wouldn't this idea be exciting to see all year round? During the school year, this concept is secluded to nights and weekends. And while I absolutely love what I do as the lead learner and principal of my school and interacting with students, teachers, and parents, I also typically do not have a lot of time to devote to my own "projects" or research during the school day. I keep these items for home at night after the kids are in bed and on the weekends. But, what if we, meaning all school staff and students, were given time each day during the school day, to explore our passions and projects like what I typically strive toward during the summer? What if we incorporated more of this 80/20 business model into our school days for staff AND students to explore their passions? It wouldn't be done "for a grade" or "for professional growth points". It would be time to explore whatever we wanted, no strings attached.


I know that some schools are doing this 80/20 model, giving digital badges or completing professional growth portfolios with this work. I know it can be done. Look at Genius Hour and Eric Sheninger’s description of the Professional Growth Period in his book Digital Leadership. Look at the growing trend of MakerSpaces, where students create their own creations. Yet, I would love to see a system-wide change, where this is not unique but the norm in schools. With a system-wide change, all individuals would take part, not just teachers and not just students.  The norm is exploration, research, personal projects, seeking self-directed professional and personal growth.

I am struck wondering what the tipping point will be for this idea? At what point will our inner drive no longer be satisfied during our "free time", and be developed at all times? With so many passionate and inspiring educators out there who are already dedicating much of their time to their own growth for the betterment of their students and schools during their summer, school nights, and weekends, I'm sure we can find a way for "Motivation 3.0" to take hold in our schools and drive us forward. We have wonderful models happening in schools right now with innovation periods, professional growth periods, and MakerSpaces. Now it is time to take it to a new level, spreading it throughout ALL schools like wildfire!

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Amy Heavin is the principal at Ryan Park Elementary School, MSD of Steuben County in Angola, IN. She has been a school administrator since 2010, and taught middle school English for 8 years prior. Passionate about curriculum and instruction, she pursues learning opportunities to blend 21st century essential skills instruction with best practices. As a moderator for the #INeLearn Twitter chat and contributor for EDWords and Fractus Learning, she promotes integration of strong pedagogy with technology in the classroom. Follow Amy on Twitter @AmyHeavin

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Guest Friday, 22 February 2019