“It’s one of my theories that when people give you advice, they’re really just talking to themselves in the past.”
I can honestly say that this post is not a message to my former self, but more of an affirmation to the person that I have always tried to be. I’ve only started reflective blogging after ISTE, however I have always had twitter and have definitely made a point to honor my commitment to honesty while also honoring my commitment to my school. There will be elements of Kleon’s words interwoven throughout this posting as its message of creativity definitely relate to blogging. I encourage you all to read the book.
Below are just a few things to consider as you continue your efforts to communicate the process as you professionally grow. Like Mr. Kleon says…
Y.M.M.V. (Your mileage may vary)
1. When reflecting after district training, focus on YOU.
We have all been in trainings that may or may not have been slightly hideous. Some of those trainings happened in our own backyards. It is important that if you reflect on training, you focus on yourself and how your experience will impact your own growth. Unless, the references to your coworkers or school are positive, leave them out of it. You will get nowhere but to visit with an administrator for bringing negative attention to your environment and rightfully so. If you need to vent about training, find the proper channels and handle it professionally…not via your blog. In Steal Like an Artist, one of Kleon’s “things to unlock creativity” is to know that creativity is subtractional. Understanding what to include and what to leave out are just as important to your growth process as the words that you publish.
“…those who get ahead will be the folks who figure out what to leave out, so they can concentrate on what’s really important to them.” – Austin Kleon
2. If you write about a process that you would like to change, write about the idea and focus on the creativity of that idea.
As much as the way that things are done may annoy you, your blog is not where you vent and complain. Instead you can research and gather plenty of resources to support other ideas and write about them. The best way to counter the desire to complain about processes is to invest in creating different processes. Use the negative emotions that you feel to fuel your own creative juices. Austin Kleon referenced this very idea in his section entitled, “Quit picking fights and go make something”…He says
“…Instead of wasting my anger on complaining or lashing out at people, I try to channel it into my writing and my drawing. So go on, get angry. But keep your mouth shut and go do your work.” -Austin Kleon
3. When writing, understand that everything you post will be read by someone in your school or community.
Whether your school is “connected” or not, everyone knows how to google. My former dean of instruction used to google my twitter. She told me so. You must be mindful of that and above all adhere to your district policies as it relates to social media. I’ve seen many leave a situation full of anger and emotion and immediately think that a blog needs to happen. You don’t do that. If you need to write to get over a situation, write it on your personal notebook that NEVER leaves home. Once you hit publish, it’s out there…even if you delete it. Someone will find it. They always do.
4. After a bad day, if you can’t say something nice, don’t say it. Don’t blog…period.
Wait and get over it in private. Handle it professionally. To reflect, focus on your path in getting over it. That may prove to be more interesting anyway! I’ve written many letters to myself via my blog after venting through the night and talking to several people who reminded me to get over it. Keeping it real is remembering that your growth is about you. Admitting to your short comings is still within the realm of reality. Telling the world how you grew from a situation is powerful. Writing about how teachers in your school ticked you off is weak. Always be about growth and solutions.
Starting the journey of being open and reflective was not an easy task to begin with. Part of growth is knowing that not everything needs to be shared. Share what matters most. Share what reflects you. Share what others can learn from.
Also remember that we are educators and our students read our work. Be mindful of that and model what growth looks like.
The lesson here is this…
People will respect you more for your honesty in dealing with what you can control…yourself. Remember, that above all, you are the brand of you. Always be cognizant of what you represent.