Tag Archives: #ILedchat

Maximizing my own Summer learning: An #ILEdchat reflection

This week, the #ILEdchat team chatted about maximizing summer learning. (New to #ILEdchat? You can read more about how that started and what we do here.) As our team formed questions for the chat, my own hopes and plans for summer were heavy on my mind. I knew the time would pass all too quickly, and I didn’t want to head back to school with the same To Do list I had in June and a pile of regrets as to how I’d used my time. I knew that being intentional with my time could lead to great progress. Family time, my dissertation, my best friend’s wedding (the real deal…not the movie!), #NAESP14, teaching an online course, many much neglected home projects, preparing for the school year ahead, and improving my fitness were and still are all part of my summer master plan. As the chat unfolded, it was indeed encouraging to hear how others were approaching their summer plans, too. You can read the chat archive here for ideas on summer planning and some great reading suggestions from teachers and administrators across and beyond Illinois. I left our hour-long chat and have moved through the week considering the following ideas that certainly pertain to summer learning and progress but have relevance beyond:

  • Continue to share the terrific and the tough: There is power in sharing our hopes and plans with one another and taking on a role of encourager instead of solely needing to be encouraged. Admittedly, the latter is more how I felt in preparing for our chat. I am fortunate to benefit from a great support system, both virtually and face-to-face. As I work on my dissertation, I have a great accountability partner in my friend and former colleague, Brent. We share what we do accomplish, and he isn’t afraid to tell me when I need to get my act together and keep moving. I also have a PLN with people like Nicholas Provenzano, who I’ve only seen once face-to-face a couple years back at the ISTE Leadership Forum. We’ve never even had a conversation, but the post he shared about his own deep, personal struggles and the responses he received on his blog and Twitter are incredible examples of mutual support in which he was both supported and his willingness to share lifted others who share such struggles. 
  • Be intentional & disciplined: This morning, Daniel Pink shared a post by Shane Parrish , An 18-Minute Plan for Managing Your Day and Finding Focus. In exercise and time management, there are no shortage of plans to follow that promise great results, but there are often ideas to glean within them. I appreciate that this reinforces the importance of starting a day with a plan and ending it with reflection. The idea to set alarms to monitor progress throughout the day is worthwhile, especially in the summer when I have a bit more control over my schedule than during school days. During the year, I set my phone alarm for our morning half-day kindergarten dismissal, our afternoon half-day arrival, and for 5 minutes before school dismissed so that I was reminded to be part of those times. I think that could be a helpful strategy in monitoring my time in the summer, too. I know what I need to do, and I have to be disciplined in following through and intentional in planning and adjusting. 
  • Allow yourself to have fun! Looking back up at my summer list, there sure is a lot of opportunity for fun amidst the tasks! Recently a friend shared this article on Facebook about too much hurrying and what that can do to us and to our children. I can visualize the mom dragging her child along with reminders to hurry; I have been that Mom, that wife, that principal… Being intentional and disciplined means building in that time to not hurry, too,

A simple summer to do list quickly moved me to deeper reflection about how I really want to be all of the time, and it left me feeling encouraged and challenged. Seems summer learning is actually about much more than summer learning and task completion. To take thoughts to action, I will use my calendar to schedule my time and alarms during work time to stop and reflect. I will use running time to reflect, too.

In the chat we asked participants to finish this sentence they likely uttered in the Spring: “I can’t wait for summer so I have time to…”  Think about how you might finish this sentence in the Fall: “This summer was awesome because…”

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!