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Posted in on September 25, 2021

It has been said that to become an expert, a person must practice their craft for approximately 10,000 hours. While some may learn a bit faster and some may take a bit longer, this number seems to be the average and equated to about 90 minutes a day for 20 years.

Consider how routine this practice must become to acquire the volume of hours needed to reach such a high standard of proficiency. What other things in life consume that much time? You may be surprised! Huffpost World News reports that over a lifetime, the average person spends…

  • 281,952 hours in bed
  • 59,808 hours of that time just tossing and turning trying to fall asleep
  • 72,720 hours watching television
  • 25,632 hours on social media 
  • 37,992 hours eating – 66% of which is eaten at our desk at work
  • 5,640 hours just standing in lines
  • 18,000 hours in school from pre-K to our senior year in high school

If we were to fill up a jar with marbles and each of the marbles represented one year of our life, just the hours above would consume approximately 52 of them. Time is our most precious gift and we have relatively very little of it.

You may be asking yourself why I would be writing about this. The reason is I have been thinking about how to best use the time we have with the students we serve and have reflected on how we can continually improve our craft to become expert educators. Research has clearly articulated which practices, when implemented with fidelity in the classroom, yield the greatest positive impact on learners. This year we are focusing on four of them. They are:

  • Standards Alignment
  • Assessment and Formative Feedback
  • Small Group Instruction
  • Differentiation/Scaffolding

How do we, as educators, maximize the 18,000 hours we have with our students and ensure they are getting our very best? We do so by perfecting our practice through coaching. There is clear evidence demonstrating a 95% transfer rate of newly learned skills into daily practice when coached. In other words, the chances of me implementing the new things I learn are high if I have a coach to help me do it.

So, who takes advantage of this and gets coached in the world? The best CEOs, gold medal Olympians and professionals in almost every field get coached. In essence, those who want to be the best at what they do are coached. According to the Harvard Business Review, one of the top reasons for coaches is to engage an organization’s high potentials. You, the teachers and leaders of our learners, are our high potentials!

This year, we are focusing on providing one-onone coaching for every literacy and mathematics teacher in Arlington ISD. I want to invite you to take advantage of this opportunity to grow and learn. Lean into your coach as a sounding board. Challenge yourself to embrace new practices. Support one another as you try. There is a reason it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert in something. Practice makes perfect, but that practice takes time and effort.

Thank you for your commitment to the students of the Arlington ISD! Now more than ever they need our very best as they seek to recover from unfinished learning that has accumulated over the last 18 months. Your expertise and skills will bless their lives and help them make the most of the 18,000 hours they are in our care.