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Leadership · Curriculum · STEM

#HamstraHighlights

Publishing Before Perfect

Fast-paced frenzy. Neurons firing like the Fourth of July. Synapses synapsing. The perfect storm of interaction among connected educators; a fireworks show of professional learning on full display; and my mental CPU spider-webbing. I was a kid in a candy store.

But I wasn’t IN a candy store. I was in a Wake County Public School System Instructional Technology and Library Media Services Convergence Symposium session, wondering and learning. In a room like this filled with forward-thinking minds and those known to provoke the educational think tank into deeper evaluation and reasoning, I felt synergy. And it was electric.

cyheb4axgamhwjgGeorge Couros advised educators (and students) to create professional portfolios featuring a suite of their identity and professional learning journey, including—especially—reflections. We were talking about digital footprints and reflecting through blogging.

But just then—right there in front of everyone (about 200 educators)—THEE Innovator’s Mindset author  George Couros just told ME to go home and blog (and video-blog) about my day, meaning that educators must schedule time to reflect upon their learning, in the lifelong pursuit of how to do what’s best for our students.

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Sweetly-smelling ashes from blazing fireworks sprinkle all around me and hang—suspended in mid-air—as if to glow like the good kind of overwhelming. There’s no funnel wide enough to transform my atmosphere of wonder into a blog good enough to post for the world wide web‘s critique.

I can’t do it. I just can’t get the blog out.

More well-read, well-researched, well-educated learners in that room could find facts in my reflections that might not be exactly true or worded perfectly. Or even worse—They may even disagree with me. I’m frustrated and disappointed in myself. I’m scared. And I’m embarrassed to be scared. Am I alone? Is there anyone else out there like me? Wait—Do you think there are any students or parents who wrestle with this, too?

In a later session entitled: “BE the Change,” another dynamic innovator Derek McCoyespecially spoke to my heart. 

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Created by @mikeaustinwest

I don’t have time! Who hasn’t said or heard that before? Personally, I don’t have time to express my reflections, because I’m too scared to publish before perfecting. Even as I compose this right now, I’m upset that this is not better than a seventh draft. I’m praying that WordPress has editing options, allowing editing after publishing. Can it be like that in real life, too? How am I supposed to “keep it moving?” It’s getting personal now:

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Please don’t misunderstand. It’s imperative to research to get the facts straight. It’s important to journey through the research and writing processes to maintain professionalism. But it’s most important to go through the learning process. And it IS okay to assume and model the genuine, forever-emerging, lifelong learner on a journey of continuous improvement, constantly seeking to become better.

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If reflection is so vital to the learning process, why aren’t we specifically scheduling and advertising “reflection time” in our conferences, staff meetings, and weekly lives?

I love ISTE’s “Bloggers Cafe.” But I wish there were specifically-designated talk-friendly AND silent-only reflection spaces. I wish all conferences scheduled specific reflection time (one hour) just before the farewell keynote. Can you just imagine the power of many brilliant minds blogging right there on the spot and sharing to one specific conference reflection hashtag? In a different space, can you just imagine the twitter handles, selfies (relationship-building), conversations, and plans being shared and made in circles of conference-attending educators who don’t usually mix and collaborate face-to-face?

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We aren’t investing enough time in reflection to realize its fullest potential and power. And unfortunately, the learning isn’t as effective as it could be long-term or when shared with your school’s staff back home, because it’s not recorded within 48 hours, and it’s lost in translation as time passes, therefore, decreasing your bang for the buck. It’s in these interactive reflection experiences where we learn to redefine learning and perfection

The event known as the WCPSS Convergence Symposium is over. The journey of reflection and learning continue…  

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I sincerely thank my PLN for encouraging me along the way. Derek McCoy and Melanie Farrell have constantly challenged me to get my thoughts out there. Even George Couros and Bill Ferriter have inspired me to share my learning. Special thanks to Kerry Gallagher and Bevin Reinen who remind me that it doesn’t have to be perfectJust start writing!

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12 Replies to “Publishing Before Perfect”

  • Kyle wrote:

    ” Or even worse—They may even disagree with me.”

    So here’s the thing, Kyle — the disagreement part is the BEST part of blogging! If blogs are truly about reflection, we should crave disagreement and push back.

    I think that’s what I hate the most about educational blogging today — most people think that blogging is about perfection. That’s because SO many people are using blogs to try to push their careers forward and to profit off of their ideas. That changes what we expect from bloggers. If the norm in these spaces is to go and see people’s best work — or similarly, for people to just post their best work so that it can get seen — then being perfect before publishing matters.

    But if we embrace the notion that outward facing reflection is important because it pushes our thinking and drives our growth over time, then the moments when we publish something others disagree with are the most important moments because we as authors get challenged. We flip the notion that blog authors challenge blog readers and instead embrace the notion that readers and writers challenge each other.

    Did you know that Web 2.0 originally meant “Tools that create a two way conversation between publishers and consumers?” THAT should be our goal — the two way conversation. And the best conversations involve disagreement!

    Kyle also wrote:

    “I’m frustrated and disappointed in myself. I’m scared. And I’m embarrassed to be scared. Am I alone? Is there anyone else out there like me? Wait—Do you think there are any students or parents who wrestle with this, too?”

    Yup. They do. And we don’t let them off the hook, do we? Instead, we encourage them to take risks because we know that those risks lead to rewards that are worth more than the initial fear that our students are feeling.

    #thingsthatmakeyougohmmmmm

    Hey — and one more structure tip: I’d HIGHLY encourage you to start using the NC Teacher Evaluation Standards as your categories for posts. You are tagging perfectly — but if you don’t start using the Eval Standards as Categories, you won’t be able to easily use your blog as an evaluation portfolio because you won’t be able to quickly find content connected to each standard. And take it from a guy who has 1,000 posts to recategorize: Starting that now will save you time later!

    Here’s a link to the standards:

    http://www.ncpublicschools.org/docs/effectiveness-model/ncees/standards/prof-teach-standards.pdf

    Rock on,
    Bill

    • Such a great idea to use blogging as evidence for professional teaching standards. I enjoyed our WCPSS convergence conversations. Future blogs could feature: educator motives when branding versus learning; building professional portfolios for showcasing versus the learning process; and how blogging can help in “Creating a Culture of Feedback”—More than a blog, I think that last one could be a whole book.

    • THAT tip, about using the Evaluation Instrument categories was so simple and yet so mind blowing!! I am getting ready to start and that is where it will begin.

  • Kyle, I so enjoyed reading your wonderful post! I could feel your enthusiasm and excitement through your words. GREAT job, and keep ’em coming. You inspire me!

  • Wow Kyle! Great job and it has been great watching your evolution. You have truly expanded beyond the classroom and have a great #PLN! I look forward to watching the fireworks continue.

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