At the end of February, I wrote the following in my notebook:
“I’m not sure how I think I’m going to manage writing for 31 days straight if I can’t even get a single post up in a week.”
Well, here we are, twenty-nine days later. Miraculously, I have managed it. I haven’t written about all the topics I had in mind, and some posts are about subjects that came out of the blue unexpectedly. Other posts are best left in the “Draft” folder on my desktop.
So what are my big take-aways from this month of writing? A few weeks ago, Margaret Simon asked teachers to consider “innovation” for her DigiLit Sunday Linkup. I worked on a post, but wasn’t happy with the result, so I didn’t share it. Over the past few weeks, I’ve considered going back to the ideas I was toying with, but I didn’t get that far.
Then, two things happened this week that brought me back to the word “innovation.” Two candidates for an administrative position at my school mentioned The Innovator’s Mindset during their interviews. And this morning, this blog post by George Couros, author of The Innovator’s Mindset, showed up in my Twitter feed.
As I read through Couros’s “Ten Commandments of Innovative Teaching,” my mind kept circling back to this month of blogging.
- “Innovative teachers must offer choice” The slice of life challenge is nothing but choice. Helpful suggestions and sources of inspiration are offered, but each Slicer makes his or her own decision each day about what to write about. On some days this can be daunting, but ultimately, the choices each writer makes them stronger writers and teachers.
- “Innovative teaching allows for failure” I already mentioned my “Drafts” folder, but there are also pages in my notebook with a sentence or two of an abandoned idea or words for a poem that won’t come together. I’ve learned to chalk it up to experience and keep moving.
- “Mentorship come in all forms” Learning from all of you is one of the best parts of this challenge. Whether it’s a unique idea about structure, or a beautiful piece of writing, you are all my mentors in this challenge. Thank you for your generosity.
- “Technology with a purpose” Depending on your skill level, this may be as simple as creating a blog and getting a post up and published. That’s how I felt when I began blogging. Gradually, you learn to enhance your writing with photos or videos, link to other sites and so on. Which technology you use isn’t as important as your purpose: to communicate your thoughts and feelings with the outside world.
- “Build something together” While we all toil in our own workspaces to create our own posts, each day’s collection of posts is a treasure trove of writing we have built together.
- “From local to global” In writing about our individual experiences in our own communities, we bring into focus the fact that our concerns and our passions are shared by people from all around the world.
- “Standards are guidelines, you are the architect” This refers to curriculum standards, of course, but the Two Writing Teachers team delineated guidelines at the beginning of the month. However, within those guidelines, we have flexibility and choice to create our posts however we see fit to achieve our purpose.
- “Be a learner first and model it” It is impossible to write every day and not learn something. Each person will learn something different, then carry that learning into their classroom. Either directly or indirectly, that new learning will weave itself into our lessons and conferences, benefiting whole classes of students.
- “Flexible with high expectations” Yes. Most days this involves being flexible enough to post something that doesn’t quite match my initial idea and hope that readers find something of value in my ramblings.
- “A challenge that is fun” Although some people may not believe it, spending this month writing with all of you is fun. I look forward to laughing and crying with you, and being amazed by you and your incredible students every year. For all the anguish about choosing a topic or finding the right words, we’re here because we love to write, love to learn, and want to do everything we can to help our students feel the same way. What better way to spend our days?
Thank you to Stacey, Betsy, Beth, Kathleen, Deb, Melanie, Lisa and Lanny for creating this community and providing this space for teachers and others to share their stories every day in March and on Tuesdays throughout the year. Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers to read more Slice of Life posts.