Stuff Changes. Or Not. Transformation Isn’t a One Time Thing.

A class I was involved in a little while back took a few minutes to write together the other day about a time “before technology,” “after technology,” and “personal technology.” To be honest, I wasn’t sure if I should share my writing there, but it turns out I have a blog – so I can share my writing here.

One of the things that I’m always reminded of when it comes to frames like “before technology” and “after technology” is that such distinctions are relative.  There wasn’t really ever a “pre-technology” period in my life – it’s just the technology of the moment that’s changing. Yesterday’s Word is today’s Google Docs is tomorrow’s I dunno yet. And so on. And my personal explorations of technology aren’t linear – it’s not like ever since I started typing words I no longer write them by hand. In fact, I’m writing lots more by hand lately than via keyboard, as I cherish the quiet of pen to paper without Internet connection over the allure of “what’s the latest news” when I’m sitting in front of the screen I spend far too much of my day in front of.

There’s not really an “after technology,” for me. I suspect the framing was meant in part to help folks realize that adding technology to something makes that thing better. That’s, of course, not always true. Frequently, it’s not at all true. Just because you can automate something sure doesn’t mean that you should. I wish more of the people in a hurry to automate education and learning and relationships realized that. The struggle is a big piece of the thing.

Adding extra stuff – technology, processes, media, etc – to a thing that doesn’t need it is folly and foolish and wrong. Tell your friends – don’t do that.

I’ll skip the personal part of the prompt – I don’t really know what that means. The tech I use IS personal. The same messaging tools I use to ensure my appointments are on time are those I use to ask my daughter how her day at school is going.

Maybe that’s weird, but I don’t think it is. Not one bit.

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Faking It

 

I’m working with a couple groups of teachers next week who want to explore the idea of blogging as a way of promoting inquiry and professional growth in their practice. As I’ve proposed to one group, here’s the session description as I’m thinking of it:

We’re on the third generation of writing tools for the Web. Or the 33. It depends on who you ask.

The tools for writing on the Web have never been easier to use or harder to master, but they all rely on basic writerly moves – an understanding of purpose, an awareness of audience, and an attention to detail that matters more and more as attention to detail is paid less and less.

In this workshop, we’ll explore how teachers write online for personal growth and professional development. We’ll talk about and help you unpack your reasons for writing online, and how you might get started.

Drawing on my twelve years of writing as a teacher, an educator, and a blogger, we’ll unpack what you might want to do as a writer today, how blogging can push inquiry both in your classroom and elsewhere, and how you can get started.

But what I really want to talk about with these teachers, as they consider moving forward as public writers, public inquirers, and public strugglers with their practice, is imposter syndrome.

Actually, how to defeat imposter syndrome. You guys, you fake it until you make it. So let’s do the things that writers do until we feel like we’re good at them. And we will never feel good at them.

It’s the doubt, I think, and the worry, the voice nagging at you that it’s not going well, or could be going better, or asking you to pay attention differently, that’s the power of writing about one’s practice. A big piece of the publicness that has value is the reassurance, both to yourself, and to others, that the doubt and worry exist. We really do have to fake it until we make it.

And the faking it, in truth, is an awful big piece of the making it. Being afraid/nervous/concerned/worryful is how the good work gets done.

That’s not to say that all worry is productive or necessary, but a good bit of teacher inquiry is scratching the intellectual itch or wonder.worry/doubt/concern that comes up when you begin to try to describe your practice in thought then words.

I don’t do a lot of teacher blogging workshops anymore. It’s not that I don’t believe in the power of blogging for personal or professional growth. It’s not that I don’t find it important to reflect on one’s practice. It’s that, most days, I feel like an imposter in a room full of teachers and learners.

But the truth is, I’ve always felt that way. What’s changed is that I’ve gotten better at listening to the demons that are shouting down my better angels. That’s mostly the opposite of what I wish were happening, truth be told.

Why I struggle with writing and inquiring online of late is that my young-middled aged self is less able to resist my doubts. That’s something I’m fighting and will continue to fight. But I hope I can offer to others some tips on how to get started and then they can help me remember how to continue.

That’s of course, what good classrooms look like. All the folks in the room are teachers and learners. When the classroom is working well, we all take turns.

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