Earlier this year, at around EduTech time (so late May, early June), I came back to this place to find an article that I’d written a while back. It’s not unusual for me to visit this blog – it’s my thought space, my place of reflection and promotion of ideas, and I’d visited multiple times already in the year. What was unusual this time was that EduTech had been on my thoughts for a while (as I wasn’t going to be going this year) and my most recent post was about EduTech, posted while at EduTech. It dawned on me that I hadn’t been a very loving father to my blog – I’d been ignoring it, and you – the people who read it.
Now, I have all sorts of reasons for not having updated or posted on my blog for over a year, and in fact, I even started a post that day (which then faded into the haze of my busyness). Some of these are fairly straight forward and probably happen to everyone:
- My role at work changed
- I got very busy in my role
- I moved to a new job, over 1700 km away from the last one
- It is a very busy job
- I got distracted
[TL;DR: There’s no excuse, really for not having the reflective time. All educators, or those involved in the education system, require self-reflection as part of our professional practice. I should have made time. I didn’t. I’m sorry]
Many of these problems are probably not that unusual for bloggers – we all get busy. My role changed from primarily an educational one (Head of eLearning – from Director of Senior Years) to a more administrative role (Head of IT Services for the entire Campus, Head of eLearning) while still maintaining a teaching position. I got tired pretty quickly, though my desire to see change in the way we teach, and in our students, didn’t fade. It just hurt… So, those first two kind of stymied my blogging.
Moving to the new position as Head of Secondary at a similarly sized school 1716km from my previous school (while still being in the same state!) naturally increased my busyness prior to departure. I have a family of a wife, 4 kids and myself, so there was a lot to do at home. Furthermore, there was still a lot to see done at work: my bosses and I had been working hard to launch a Many:1 BYOD program for the College, and I wanted that done right. I still had my classes – I wanted my kids to succeed and be prepared for whoever took them over. I had my team to set up and prepare for life without me. [As an aside, I am replaceable – everyone is, but gee I miss them, and I hope they miss me too.] But part of moving on is documentation, documentation, documentation. There were budgets to do, people to transition and all sorts of other stuff that I’ve probably forgotten about.
Once I got to my new location – new place, new home, exotic locations to scout – my focus was on settling us in. I started the year with a bang – not only was I new to the school, but the position I was coming into had just been created. I had a new culture to learn, a timetable to finalise, processes to sort out and start working with, an office to set up – all before the teachers came back from holidays. No-one wants to come back from holidays and find out that the person in charge didn’t have a clue. It was a busy start. And as schools do, the rest of the year has been busy – and as I’m making my stamp, keeping those things that I find invaluable parts of the school’s culture and changing those bits that I firmly believe we can do better, and teaching a bunch load of classes (still) – it’s been getting busier.
Today, though, I read an article from George Couros, entitle On Doing Your Best… [link: http://connectedprincipals.com/archives/13505 ] in which he reflected on feedback he’d been getting. He took the time to meditate on the feedback, both positive and negative, and then took the time to articulate his reponse to the feedback in a manner which many (myself included) could find useful. This prompted me to reflect on my lack of reflection. I was humbled. George Couros is the author of The Innovator’s Mindset [Link: https://www.amazon.com/Innovators-Mindset-Empower-Learning-Creativity-ebook/dp/B016YTBZKO ] and currently a Division Principal of Innovative Teaching and Learning with Parkland School Division, located in Stony Plain, Alberta, Canada. He’s a much sought after speaker and blogs with amazing regularity. So who am I to not be blogging?
BTW: If you haven’t read the book, or subscribed to his blog or the Connected Principals blog, you really should do so – fantastic!
The take away from this is that it is really easy to get stuck in the busy, the mundane, the important, the critical, the crucial and the life-changing, but we need to rise above that and make the time to be reflective. If we don’t solidly reflect, if we don’t engage in the professional thought processes, how are we going to improve? The art and science of self-reflection isn’t something that should be discarded when it gets busy. It’s something that is as important to our teaching practice as curriculum development, so much so that it’s embedded intrinsically in the AITSL Professional Standards for Teachers [link: http://www.aitsl.edu.au/australian-professional-standards-for-teachers/standards/list]. Look at the areas which require evaluation and consideration for implementation (eg. 3.6 – Evaluate and Improve Teaching Programs). Also, through reflecting on our own practice publicly, we allow others to learn from our experiences, to perhaps share in our joy of a lesson done well and the sorrow of those that didn’t work (we all have them – nothing to be ashamed of). We allow others to make use of our ideas, but also to comment on our reflection, to perhaps draw more out than we saw ourselves. Truly, taking reflection public is a public service in the extreme.
So. My aim (not promise) is to make time each week/fortnight to write up some of my thoughts and reflections and post them out here. You never know – someone might find it useful…