Monthly Archives: July 2013

Writing time

Last Friday I noticed the following Tweet:

I have 9 “draft” posts that I started and never finished, thinking of picking the 5 best and finishing them Monday-Friday next week.

— Jesse P. McLean (@jmclean77) July 5, 2013

This got me thinking about the unfinished drafts that were sitting in my own folder and the general lack of attention I’ve given my blog. Within the next day or so I responded to another of Jesse’s Tweets, noting that I’d been thinking about joining him in this challenge of sorts. Upon a quick count, I had 5 posts started to varying degrees along with many cases of “I really should write about that” floating around in my head. Jesse asked why those posts most often ended up in the draft folder, and I’d attribute that to two main reasons:

  • I simply wasn’t taking the time I needed to write and reflect.
  • I’d struggled (and still do to an extent) to write a simple point-in-time post, instead striving for an authentic, thoughtful reflection…that was comprehensive, polished and ‘finished’.

Have those same reasons impacted your writing? What are other challenges that impede your writing time? Logically, I know taking this time is important to my own learning and the modeling of learning I hope to do for others. I also know a blog post is only ‘finished’ until you think more, read more, reflect more, share more, and experience more. In other words, it isn’t finished. Learning isn’t finished. When I look back at previous posts, I see many instances where I could expand and add on based on things I simply hadn’t known or done at that point. I have to move past those reasons, and, with that, I joined Jesse in #draftweek where we’re each completing 5 posts that previously sat ‘unfinished’ and unshared. (I’m also throwing in a Goo Goo Dolls/Matchbox 20 concert tomorrow to add to the excitement.) Be sure to check out Jesse’s blog over here for some good reads, too.

Back to my own draft posts, last night I wrote about #iledchat, and tonight I find myself here in “Writing Time.” The excerpt below was all I had written the first weekend in May.

Today I completed my last required doctoral course. Having also passed my comprehensive candidacy exams this spring, ‘only’ my dissertation remains. Just before the semester started, I wrote this about my choices and experiences.

And that’s where I stopped this particular post (Must have been really tired…., right?). My intent was to write further about putting a structure in place to formalize my dissertation process and continue the accountability that came with weekly class sessions. With that, a special shout-out to Brent Anderson who patiently talks me through my study as I work to formalize the initial stages. Brent has a dissertation in progress, too, and  writes on his blog; you should check out his messages to his school community here.

The truth is I have a lot of work to do to be sure I honor writing time, both in my personal/professional reflection and to actualize my doctoral goal. As you make time to write and recognize that learning never stops, make sure you also encourage a colleague or friend so they have the support they need to both move forward and encourage someone else. I know that, after the fact, I never feel like writing time is time wasted.

Talking #ILEdChat

I’ve developed this pattern of reflecting on the awesomeness that comes from my Personal Learning Network (PLN) Monday nights at 9 p.m. CST. This is right about the time #iledchat wraps up for the week. We’ve just passed the 5 month point since we started a weekly chat initially rooted in Illinois education topics. ‘We’ includes the planning team of me, Jill Maraldo, Kevin Rubenstein, Bob Abrams, and other educators from both within and outside of Illinois who are so gracious to join us in learning. Sometimes the conversations mean encouraging and agreeing, and sometimes they mean challenging and pushing back; often they include both. I know we learn from both, for sure. Just tonight, we were glad to welcome Chris Wejr from a couple time zones away as we talked about awards in schools; be sure to check out his blog for some thought-provoking reads.

Leading up to the start of #iledchat, a few factors coincided:

  • I’d started a Google doc to track local educators that used Twitter. I loved connecting with educators from all over the globe, but my curiosity also led me to see what local people were Twitter users. 
  • I had gotten more involved in my region of the Illinois Principals Association, so I was both connecting with more people in person and wanting to share the amazing connections and resources that they could access.
  • Illinois administrators had just endured the evaluation training modules and we were getting ready to administer the 5Essentials survey to our staff and our parents, both were a little stressful and uncertain.
  • I’d noticed and jumped in on some other state Twitter chats like #IAedchat; you can find a list of many chats here. Months prior to that, I’d had my first chat experience with #PTchat.

When Jill asked if I’d like to be part of a team to start this, I didn’t hesitate at all. Backing up to that #iledchat team, I’d only met Bob in person before this started. I met Jill a full month later, and I’ve yet to meet Kevin face-to-face. Weekly, however, we collaborate on a shared document, share resources, and offer both positive and critical feedback to one another as we prepare to facilitate the chat. I’ve been excited to have other local colleagues join in the fun, too, as they reached out as newly connected educators.  We’ve also added a Google+ community where you can find our chat archives each week along with related resources! Check it out and feel free to share there, too.

We tackled the 5Essentials survey as our first topic(Coincidentally, those results just came out.). Like tonight, though, many topics are global in nature, and I enjoy learning about school systems in other states and countries. Both local and global topics benefit from sharing varied perspectives. You can check out the much larger #edchat and some thoughts from Tom Whitby for the background on that, too.

If you found this post through Illinois Principals Association and a chat is new to you, check out these resources to learn more about participating in a chat. You can also use the #iledchat hashtag throughout the week to share. Again, while this has enhanced my global network, it has also undoubtedly enhanced my local network. That translates, in simplest form, to enriching my school community through people, resources, examples, and conversations of what is truly possible as we seek to best serve our kids. Thanks to everyone who has joined us and we’re excited for those of you who will join us in moving forward in connection, reflection, and action!