Sunday, January 25, 2009

Getting (and Staying) Focused

It's a little late for New Year's Resolutions, but hey, better late than never! It's a new day!
This past Thursday/Friday I attended FETC. One of my tweets from the conference:
It's not just twitter either. I am in a very different place than I was a year ago. 
Last year when I attended FETC, I had just started this blog. I didn't know from a PLN. I was an island at my school, swimming against the tide, looking for ideas, figuring stuff out-- mostly by myself.  I was at a critical point where things were about to really change, but I was unaware of it.
In one year the changes have been phenomenal. Last year at FETC I had just started reading blogs. I had bookmarked a few and jumped around reading here and there. I had no idea about using an aggregator to read blogs. Now I subscribe to around 70 blogs in my google reader. I have a twitter network of around 400 educators. I have joined some 20 nings that have to do with education. I have connected with, collaborated with and been influenced by colleagues all over the planet. I've been inspired. I've pushed myself and my students in new directions as I've learned from others.

Now, one year later, I'm suffering from overload. Like a kid in a candy store I stuffed myself too full of all the goodies. It's time to go on a diet. I have become frenzied, my energy scattered. In order for my tree to grow and stay strong, I must prune back the branches. It is time to focus. 

I am a believer in the merits of  backwards planning, so I will start with my goals. What is it I really want to achieve?

1. I want to be the best teacher I can be. Ultimately, I want what I do to help me where it matters - in the classroom with my students.

2. I want to do justice to my job as an edtech leader at my school. I would like to develop my leadership skills so that I may help facilitate change.

3. I would like to be a better writer and make a difference, through blogging and other forms of sharing, for other teachers.

4. I want to continue learning, growing and being challenged in my career and my life.

What do I need to do in order to make these goals reality? What is my plan of action?
•Rededicate myself to blogging. I started by giving EdTech Workshop a new look. If you read in a reader, stop by the blog to see the new look. I need to become more succinct, too, and spend less time fussing over each post. There is something to be said for just getting the words out there. Which brings me to my next item.
•In the words of Miguel Guhlin, "Share more." This is hard for me and something I must push myself to improve.  I compare myself constantly -my writing, my students' work, the soundness of my ideas to those around me, and it holds me back. The process of sharing is part of the process of learning and improving. I need to trust that there is a place for me in this edublogopshere universe. Which brings me to my next item.
•Keep my ego in check. I've gotten a taste this year of the egos in the education world. It has been one of the less pleasant parts of my involvement in the blogosphere, but I have as much to learn from it as from anything else. I need to continually remind myself that it's never really about me.
•Let some things go. I am going to cut down my google reader. I know I don't have to read everything in it (and I don't). But seeing all those unread posts, it's overwhelming and sometimes guilt-inducing. It reminds me of all the things I'm not doing. If it's important, and it's going to benefit me in a useful way, I need to trust that it will find me. Between all the links on twitter and others' blogs, plus the shared items in my reader, I have plenty to keep me busy. 
Less IS more.
Along the same lines, I am going to let go of all the nings. I will keep the Elementary Tech Teachers ning, which has proven to be very useful for me, and I will make an effort to be more of a contributor there. I also recently joined a Tech4Learning ning, and I would like to actively engage there as well. 
I'm also letting go of the print magazines I receive, with the exception of The Creative Educator. Not only is it my favorite, but, like the new me, it is focused. It is in-line with my goals and does not cause me to scatter my energies wishing for equipment and software that my school doesn't have. (Note: The Creative Educator is available online, but I prefer to receive and read a printed copy).
I'm keeping twitter!!!!!!!! I love twitter. I don't know if I should get rid of my plurk account or just continue to not use it but keep the name edtechworkshop for myself to avoid possible confusion if someone else takes it. I have no interest right now in updating myself all over the place using ping, although I know some people swear by that. I just really like twitter. I will continue to grow my network there and follow new teachers.

That's my plan. I'll let you know how it goes. 

image credit: Keeney, Carolyn. candystore.jpg. October 25, 2003. Pics4Learning. 25 Jan 2009 


Blogger In Middle-earth said...

Kia ora Andrea!

Thanks for this inspirational post! You give me lots of things to think about!

Good luck with your resolutions.

I like the new look of your blog.

Catchya later

Anonymous said...

Hi, this is my first visit to your blog, it looks great ! I haven't done one in blogger before but should be able to help out with the header, please feel free to contact me via or Nicola.Avery on Skype,

Andrea said...

Thanks to both of you, for the support. I really do appreciate it.
Nicola, I really appreciate your offer of help, but I actually figured it out last night (it was un-checking the "shrink to fit" option which only appears once you have removed previous image). thanks, though!!