December 3, 2016
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.
George 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.
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?
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:
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.
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?
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.
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 perfect—Just start writing!