It was two years ago yesterday, that I started writing this blog. And aside from holidays, there have been only rare Sunday nights when I haven’t posted. Last week was #75. It’s hard to believe that I have had enough things to write about for 75 pieces! So this is a perfect time to do my best Academy Award thank you speech, but without the jokes and probably a lot shorter than the ones on tv.
It’s a tradeoff lol.
So, this blog started because of a confluence of three things.
First, Innovator’s Mindset from George Couros. As educators, if you haven’t read it, you need to. It was a monumental shift for me that built on the beliefs I had on teaching and learning that began with Jay Wilson and Rick Schwier in my ETAD master’s program at the U of S.
Second, I had signed up for the Aspiring Administrators program with Prairie Spirit. In our first session with Tracey Young and Jon Yellowlees, they modelled an “I Am From” poem. It was the first thing I had written in years and it was a big deal. As I wrote in that first post, “To say it was cathartic doesn't do it justice. It was like a small stone starting an avalanche for me.”
And the third thing that got me started was support from an administrator at the time, Brett Kirk. Although it was the answer he often gave when I would run ideas by him, when I said I was thinking about starting a blog, his response was, “Do it.”
So I did.
I've had people ask me what I write about every week. Where do I get ideas?
Well, there are times that I have drawn ideas from the books that I am reading. I love to read a lot, and have gotten into the bad habit of juggling several books at the same time, which just means that I’m not finished any of them! My to-be-read pile is pretty ridiculous right now too.
The book I’m working my way through now is called Deep Learning and it is talking about many educational practices and beliefs that I feel really strongly about. Literally the last line that I read today was about cultivating collaborative cultures. Besides being a really sweet alliteration, the feeling of working together for a common goal is one of the most powerful things you can have in education.
“Cultivating collaborative cultures works in tandem with focusing direction to develop a nonjudgmental culture of growth that fosters the capacity and processes for change. Innovation requires an environment that allows mistakes as long as the group is learning from them. Collaboration becomes not just collegiality but the cultivation of expertise so that everyone is focused on the collective purpose. This collaborative expertise is a powerful change strategy as leaders use the group to change the group.”
Like I wrote last week, I get a lot of ideas from the people I follow on social media. Brene Brown will change your life. Start with her TED talks and then get the books! Twitter is also fantastic if you don't get sucked into the comments. There are so many amazing educators out there, especially here in Prairie Spirit, that I am continually inspired by.
There are so many times that I have drawn ideas from the people around me. I can’t even list how many ideas from the first year of blogging were totally ripped off from conversations with Brett. (I guess I’ll see if he still reads this anymore lol.) As our VP, he challenged us in many ways to not just rethink our approaches, but to create a vision of what education and learning could be. Of course, if you ever tried to give him credit (like I’m doing here) he always said it’s not about him…it’s about ‘us’ as a collective, and that’s a lesson I try to bring to classroom as well. I hardly ever even think about it as me ‘teaching’ anymore - it is all of us just learning together. You might wonder how that’s even different, but it is. And that’ll have to wait for another post…this is starting to feel like it is Academy length!
Thankfully they don’t follow me on social media, as I have drawn a lot of ideas from my own children. In the span of two years, our daughter has moved to Calgary on her own, managed to survive Biology and Pharmacology classes, massively improved her snowboarding skills, and now is seriously learning rock climbing. There was no shortage of texts, phone calls, and many tears from both of us as we navigated those unchartered waters together. Our son finished high school, which marked the end of my kids carpooling and being my company every day for literally 20 years. I wrote about the joy of his provincial football win and the crushing defeat in the provincial hockey final. And then he left for Calgary too, and I have had many thoughts about empty-nesting and the true grief that comes from actually feeling alone for the first time.
Now I just draw ideas from the two of them living together. And bickering. Like one of the texts I got yesterday, “Mom, he’s being an actual ass.”
Ah, good times.
I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that even as adults, these two will still provide me with things to ponder and write about.
And of course, I have drawn many ideas from the other kids in my life, the ever-changing students in my classroom. Without getting too sappy, I couldn’t imagine wanting to do anything other than work with young people. Plus I’ve been at this long enough that there is a predictability to their unpredictable teen dispositions! But still, there is something every week that I can reflect on, and know that I’ve learned something new from them too.
900 words! Pretty quick they’ll be playing the “Get Off The Stage Your Thank You Speech Is Too Long” music. So one last shout out. It’s to the music recommendations that I get. Not only have they made it into the content of quite a few blog posts, it’s what’s playing in my ears every Sunday night as I try to focus and write. Some inspire me. Some make me sad. But they all help me think.
So that’s it for this week. Always hoping I’ll be here to write again next Sunday. Maybe even for 75 more lol. Have a good one!
Perpetual amateur. Lifelong learner. Vice-Principal. Teacher. Musician. Mom. Annnnd if you're reading this, then I'm still a blogger.