The Work-Life-Blogging Balance Challenge

Screen shot 2013-11-16 at 10.33.51 AM

Jenni’s question this week is one that needs more that 140 characters to answer.

I think we have to begin with why we even bother to blog.  It begins with a fundamental belief that knowledge is to be shared and that learning comes from conversations.  It isn’t enough to just learn any more.  We need to learn, connect, reflect and share.  We expect our students to do this every day.  We need to model that for them.

We need to make our learning visible.

When we recognize blogging and sharing our learning as a priority, it becomes easier to do it.

Blogging
Sculpture by Ai Weiwei, Toronto City Hall, October 2013

Before blogging becomes a habit, though, professional learning needs to be a habit.  This was stated nicely in #satchat today.

Twitter PD

So how can professional learning become part of your life? Here are a few simple suggestions:

1) Listen to podcasts, all the time.  I hate mundane tasks like vacuuming and raking, but plugged into a great podcast makes the chore simply listening and learning time.  Suggestions?   Get ASCD’s Whole Child Podcast on your iPhone, along with CBC Ideas, HBR Ideacast (great stuff for school and system leaders), Moving at the Speed of Creativity with Wes Fryer (once listened to these every commute – learned a ton from Wes), CBC Spark (I’m a bit partial to Episode 195!).  Those are my favourites, but I could go on forever here with other suggestions.

2) Read your notes!  How often do you go to PD sessions and take notes.  Do you ever read them again?  You should!  As you learn and grow, some parts of previous learning sessions begin to make more sense.

3) Read great books.  Don’t know where to start?  Ask your PLN on Twitter.  Some recent favourites? Intentional Interruption by Stephen Katz and Lisa Ain Dack, Professional Capital by Andy Hargreaves and Michael Fullan.  I am certain your PLN can suggest many, many more.

4) Read other bloggers. Follow blogs that are being written by other great thinkers and educators.  Ontario teachers can use this list to start: http://www.scoop.it/t/ontario-edublogs.

Others I like to read include Alfie KohnSeth Godin, Grant Wiggins, Diane Ravitch, David Warlick.

If you don’t have time to read a blog, you can always “listen” to one.  Check out how Darren Kuropatwa uses his commuting time to work to post to his blog – “while walking“.Screen shot 2013-11-16 at 9.44.13 PM

5. Enrol in a MOOC!  There are so many MOOCs for learning out there.  Try Coursera if you can’t find what you want elsewhere.

6. Connect Online.  Enable Feedly, use social bookmarking, connect on Twitter.  Maximize sharing and connecting to learn from other educators.  There are endless ways to do this.

 

But what to share?

Sometimes just sharing your learning is so worthwhile.  I often do this after a particularly valuable session at a conference (Catherine Montreuil, John Malloy).

Sometimes things happen in your day that inspire a post about a topic you are learning about or that you want to explore further.

For example, this past week, I was explaining my new role in promoting digital learning throughout Ontario to my optometrist when he started into a rant on how we had better get Facebook out of schools.  It reminded me of how much work we have to do to teach the public about the importance of digital learning – a blog post for another day.

Doug Peterson (@dougpete  <– follow him) explains very nicely how he comes up with his blog topics here.

 

How can you organize your learning, your experiences, your blog ideas, your blog post catalysts?  There are many tools available.

Recently, I have started using a free app called Notability.

notability

It allows me to use handwriting or voice to quickly record my thinking.  blog layout in notability

I can organize it by topic.

notability organizes written notes

When I synch it with my other devices, the documents download to my laptop in pdf format.

Adobe notes from notability

I also use my phone to record ideas while walking or hiking.  Then, as I start to write the blog, I often switch to Evernote, which is synched across all of my devices and where I store and tag much of my online learning.

evernote organization

evernote take a note

And sometimes I even use good old-fashioned paper when I am really trying to sort things out.

John Malloy visual

Most educators I know are trying to do too much with too little time.  Having time to exercise, get outside, relax and heal has to be a priority.  Sometimes, this is the best time to reflect and consolidate learning, and as you make connections, why not share those ideas with your colleagues when you get back?  We are all learning together.

Start the conversation.

Further Reading:

Royan Lee: Writing in Snippets ~ How I Blog

6 thoughts on “The Work-Life-Blogging Balance Challenge”

  1. Thanks for this great blog post Donna. I think part of my problem is that I’m still stuck in the, “Who’s going to care what I have to say?” stage, even though I fully understand that’s the wrong way of thinking. My first step I think needs to be your last recommendation: exercise, get outside, relax and heal. This should help get me in the right place to blog. And I can also see that getting some of my thoughts out of my brain and organized in meaningful text could be therapeutic too.

    Like

  2. Nice collection of thoughts, Donna. For the newby, I suspect that they might find it really overwhelming! I’d suggest just picking and choosing one to get start and yet be mindful that there are so many other things that can grow from it. I like how you share where you get your best thoughts. Mine come my four legged friend who inspires me at least three times a day.

    Like

    1. Doug said it before I could! Even for the non-noob, knowing there’s more that could be done is overwhelming. I just made a slide for an eSymposium presentation which says this: “do something, not everything”.

      Pick something new to try. It doesn’t even matter what you pick. Just start.

      Thanks again Donna. Now I have one more link to include in my presentations. 😉

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s