Tuesday, July 5, 2016

On professional learning: confession & observation

The Confession
Amid summer's bliss, I have overextended myself. My head has been spinning this week with professional learning opportunities, to which I have said, "Yes, yes, and yes." Teachers Write! CyberPD! Edcamp Voxer! Not to mention this weekly slicing rhythm I've embraced or favorite Twitter chats I frequent. My virtual world has gotten so much bigger that now I feel an urgent need to pare it down, or at least prioritize my participation. I find myself wondering: "What matters most to me amid this smorgasbord? What should I keep versus let go?" I'm also reconsidering what strike me now as outmoded views of professional learning, carrying over from decades of brick-and-mortar experiences. Maybe, in the virtual world, it's okay to be partially engaged sometimes, to drift in and out, contributing what I can when I can, rather than being fully invested in each of these communities. Face-to-face settings would frown on that, I suspect, while online venues may actually thrive on the flux of participants. (Take that, fear of missing out!)

The Observation
Writing and speaking may be related, but they feel worlds apart for me right now. Writing lands in my comfort zone, as evidenced by how this blogging habit is sticking and the facility I've felt navigating Twitter over the past year. In comparison to writing, speaking as a professional outlet proves itchily uncomfortable for me, highlighted by some Voxer dabbling today. I understand why. I'm at ease massaging writing until it says what I want to say and I deem it ready for an audience. In comparison, speaking feels like the ultimate first draft, words sent to the audience that can't be snatched back. That plants another question in my mind, one that will bear on my learning going forward as well as my interactions with students: "To what extent should I play to my perceived strengths versus stretch my envelope of expression?"


11 comments:

  1. Speaking is "the ultimate first draft." (Great line!) If it's too rehearsed, it sounds too rehearsed; and ad-lib can be downright dangerous. Writing can be tweaked. It amazes me that writing reveals voice; but when I actually use my voice, nothing sounds the way I intended.

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  2. As a busy summer pd addict I can relate!
    I love this line: "To what extent should I play to my perceived strengths versus stretch my envelope of expression?"
    I think about this often for myself, but also for my students. It is hard to go beyond ourselves- when is this important and when does it not matter?

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  3. As a busy summer pd addict I can relate!
    I love this line: "To what extent should I play to my perceived strengths versus stretch my envelope of expression?"
    I think about this often for myself, but also for my students. It is hard to go beyond ourselves- when is this important and when does it not matter?

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  4. I found so much in this slice to think about, especially this line:
    I'm at ease massaging writing until it says what I want to say and I deem it ready for an audience.
    I am at ease massaging a piece of video work... so at ease to keep the revision going. But I am taking things much slower this year. Your slice makes my head spin, but that's what keeps us in the game don't you think?
    Bonnie K

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    1. "The readiness is all," said the notoriously unready Hamlet :)

      Mean time, I do trust all this spinning is moving me towards some semblance of greater readiness.

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  5. Wow Brian, I would never have thought you felt this way toward speaking, since you carve out such amazing written words! Your last line says it all... You must continue within your comfort zone, and just rip open the "envelope" :-)

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  6. Love your confession - there is a need to pare down our involvement at times so we can relax and refresh. And your closing aha - "online venues may actually thrive on the flux of participants." Lots to think about here.

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  8. This is an incredibly rich and layered post! I'm sorry I'm late in responding. I like your point about being able to dip in and out of online learning opportunities. I'm trying to not feel guilty or anxious about all I'm not able to do and instead celebrate the ways I am trying to participate in summer learning conversations. I could relate so much to what you wrote!

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    1. There's no 'late' on the Internet as far as I can tell, Kathleen :) Thanks for your positive thoughts, which I am coming around to adopting -- especially as I take the next several days to disconnect.

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  9. Wow! I love your writing and completely relate to what you say here. This sentence grabbed me: "speaking as a professional outlet proves itchily uncomfortable for me." I tried Voxer several times and just couldn't do it. I'm also feeling overwhelmed with all the professional reading out there and I'm going to follow your lead in paring it down. I feel like I"m scattered and learning is becoming superficial. I need to take the time to reflect and go deeper. Thank you for writing a piece that really made me stop and think about my learning life.
    Carla

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