Tag Archives: Dean Shareski

Using the ‘A’

Last weekend I was thrilled to have the opportunity to be part of the ASCD’s annual conference in Chicago, just a short drive away. This conference boasted some amazing speakers, but it also provided an opportunity to simply spend time with educators I’ve met through my Personal Learning Network (PLN) on Twitter. Outside of the prescribed conference sessions, I enjoyed meals and conversation (and even a little karaoke) with some educators who have pushed my thinking and helped me see what is really possible when we work together and encourage one another.  I was also with some educators I have the privilege of working with on a regular basis in my local school district and immediate community.

Perhaps one of the best ‘non-session’ conference sessions came in the final hours of the conference when my assistant principal and friend, Katy Schafermeyer, and I sat to catch up and talk about what we had experienced over the course of the weekend and what we might contribute at a future conference. Before long we were sitting with George Couros and Tom Whitby talking about being connected educators and the compelling need to share with one another for the sake of improving our practice. George and I had connected on Twitter and met in person at the ISTE Leadership Forum. Tom and I also had connected on Twitter through mutual acquaintances and met in person the day before we served on a connected educator panel at the ICE Conference earlier this month.

In the hour and a half or so we spent together, George talked to us about staring Connected Principals and Tom shared about the beginning of #EdChat. Before long, what started as reflection moved on to action. For Katy, it meant starting her own blog. Over the course of this school year, Katy got started with Twitter. George’s perspective that afternoon reinforced that people who don’t know Katy could learn from her through the public sharing a blog provides. We talked about some of the ‘uncomfortable-ness’ that comes with public declaration of our thoughts. A barrier to my own writing has sometimes been my concern with making a blog post a finished piece of work rather than simply my thoughts at a point in time or an experience I’d like to share. I’d also sometimes  gone from considering too many topics to write about to not writing about any at all. Interestingly, I believe that the steps I’ve taken with blogging and Twitter have made me much more comfortable, confident, and purposeful in some face-to-face conversations with other educators.

For me, that time with Katy, George, and Tom also resulted in changing my Twitter handle and moving my blog to my own domain. That’s where the ‘A’ comes in to the story. My principal title was part of both my blog address and my Twitter identity as I used @principalkmelt.  As George and Tom explained, changing both to a version of my name allows for me to claim that space for the long term regardless of the role I hold and makes me more easily remembered and accessible to others. Likewise, that change keeps the focus on me as a learner rather than me as a title. Admittedly, I got a little held up on the Kathy A. part, as I’d rarely used my middle initial, especially without my full name of Kathleen. So I could continue to think about it and possibly lose that space or I could go for it. Why not?!

Learning a new blog platform has been challenging, but the key is that I don’t have to learn it on my own. In the past couple of days, I’ve reached out for help and recommendations and have not fallen short on replies (Thanks, too, to Dean Shareski!). When thinking about my PLN, I am consistently amazed at the willingness of individuals to share their time and their resources with people, in some cases, they have seldom or never met face-to-face. At the core of that willingness is an unwavering commitment to support learners in the ranks of students, parents, and educators.  I want in on that. You should want in on that, too. That ‘A’ (stands for Ann, in case you were wondering..) now reminds me to take that Action.

Much to consider and failure to own

This week, I was fortunate to travel to the ISTE Leadership Forum in Indianapolis. This was the first time I have been to a conference since starting a PLN, so it was a first opportunity to meet many of my PLN members in person.  That alone would have made the time worthwhile. Honestly, I’m still not quite sure where to start with organizing my thinking following keynotes, sessions, and informal conversation that both challenged and affirmed.

Blogging is an important step in organizing these thoughts and others as I move forward. I built this blog exactly three months ago, knowing there is value in the transparent reflection that happens as words fill this space.  This, though, marks the fourth time I’ve posted.  In a social media panel on Tuesday, Sheryl Nussbaum Beach made a reference to the effect of our good ideas not being that good if we’re not taking time to share them. Couple that reference with a post I read from Dean Shareski earlier this month and other nuggets of inspiration along the way, and I readily admit I have fallen short…way short. Part of being a learner and a leader is being willing to own that.
Looking futher, this fall I started East View Learns 100, a public online space where I hope to compile 100+ stories of learning from our school community. Today I was excited to post Story 13 and Story 14 and make plans for our very next student post. This project emerged from my reading of edu180atl, the #Learn365 project, and Parkland School Division’s 184 Days of Learning, along with Leyden Learn 365 which started this fall in Illinois, too. I am so excited to see our project unfold and love that all stakeholders in our school community can have a voice here. From the perspective of teachers, though, it is indeed taking a risk to engage in public reflection in a space such as this and not everyone is comfortable and willing. If I want them to take that risk, I owe it to them to model that myself. It is also my hope that I can bring some of my local school leaders along with me on this journey for their own progress and the greater progress of our students and teachers. Thanks to my PLN for continued encouragement and for giving me so much to consider; my commitment is to do the same for you along the way.