Leadership · Curriculum · Lifelong Learning

Two years ago today, I launched #HamstraHighlights. Here’s why it means so much to me.

This is where I read, write, research, reflect, interact, learn, and grow. I’m in charge of my entire professional portfolio, including why, how, and what I learn.

The ownership is real. That matters.

Ranging in topics from leadership principles to life’s precious moments to best practices in edtech, STEM, and curriculum, my journey is personal. I take pride in creating platforms, sharing new ideas in multiple formats, and giving to my professional learning network (PLN). More importantly, I’m grateful to listen, learn, and take from my PLN, too.

Educators need reciprocal investments to grow and develop.

Since November 23, 2016, I’ve posted 104 publications at kylehamstra.com. That averages out to one post per week, but that’s far from reality. Possibly, I could better connect with others if I posted consistently at exactly the same time every week. It’s just that my life hasn’t followed that pattern. An ebb and flow, to say the least, I’ve gone one month without blogging to posting reflections three times a week.

My journey has progressed through (at least) three phases. I’m sharing them here to alert novice bloggers, as well as to continue seeking advice from the best in the business.

1–Overcoming Perfectionism

I could not have started blogging if it weren’t for all of the educators in this picture, not to mention a few more not pictured, such as Steven Weber, Kerry Gallagher, Bevin Reinen, and Phil Echols. These connected educators are the ones who encouraged me to overcome my personal obstacles and press fast-forward on my professional walk. Thank you.

I’m a recovering perfectionist.

My abstract form of OCD (almost) prevents me from posting a potential final draft, mostly due to excessive proofreading and fear of not getting it… perfect. Without specific encouragement and direction, I would have never launched my professional portfolio, one that is–by the way–an imperfect work-in-progress.

2-Audience Matters? 

After finally posting my first few blogs, I became concerned about who was reading them. I admit it: there was a time when I got caught up in quantity, especially in the number of likes, comments, retweets, represses, and overall hits.

The numbers game can be addicting! 

But that was never my intention. At the heart, quality has always been my goal. I not only wanted to reflect upon things that mattered–but for the right reasons, too. I wanted other people to care about my thoughts so much that it threw me off my game for a bit.

As I reflect on two years of blogging, I look back at some posts and I think things like: “I know exactly what I was thinking in that context, but I can’t believe I wrote that. I can’t believe I put that in writing, especially because it seems so minuscule now. That sounds immature. Why did I post so many pictures, links, and tweets in the text? I can’t believe that I cared so much about what others thought.”

This is an uncomfortable process, but maybe that’s what reflection is all about?

I could go back and delete that one paragraph or that one post, but #HamstraHighlights is committed to maintaining a learning portfolio–not a showcase portfolio. Ten years from now, I want to go back to see growth over time.

3-It’s For ME

Adhering to heartfelt advice, I was finally at peace with my writing being for me. In a better place, I quit tagging people in every post. In a sense, I quit chasing people and begging them to read my writing. There’s a difference between informing others that you’ve got something valuable to share, something that you care about, versus selling something.

If your goal is to get a ton of hits on your blogs, then you’ll find out very quickly that the market is saturated with fellow, well-intending educators with similar motives. The competition is fierce. But are we in a competition? That depends on our motives. It’s a matter of the heart.

While I’m honored to have been approached a few times about writing a book, I want it to be for the right reasons. I don’t want to write a book because I want to write a book. I want to write a book as a result of living out my passions over a long period of time and wanting to share those passions with others in a meaningful way. I want my publications to help each other become better for learners of all ages.

Moving Forward

Currently, I have a dozen wordpress drafts in the queue, with countless many more approaching the publishing stage in my mind. I’m always excited for the next one.

My challenge lies in balancing good writing with a style that resonates with others and leaves them with something to think about. The trick is to be eloquent, but succinct; personal, but professional; theoretical, but practical; in the moment, but looking forward; reaching the mind, but going through the heart.

Special thanks to anyone who has ever invested time, interest, and commentary in kylehamstra.com. It’s been a wild ride so far, and I can’t wait to see what’s next.

What are your thoughts? Comment here!

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