Inspired, selfish, or both?

CC licensed photo shared by Flickr user Seven-Deadly-Sins

I recently had the opportunity to speak with a small group of our county’s elementary school administrators about social media use in education. I gave an abbreviated version of my Networked Administrator presentation, and while I did my best to showcase authentic examples of how social media use has benefited my school, students and teachers, and has added to my professional growth, there were definitely two or three people whose lack of eye contact with the presenter and almost grimace-like expressions indicated they were not buying what I was selling. In fact, they probably considered my ramblings a huge waste of their time. Conversely, some in the audience thanked me profusely for sharing this information and scheduled follow-up meetings with me so I could get them started with Twitter and discuss how they could use the tools in their own settings.

I shared my blog, and the audience members diligently copied down my URL. As I wrapped up my spiel about blogging, I projected the very site on which you are reading this post, and implored, “If you do one thing when you leave here today, I want you to visit Connected Principals. I want you to read the thoughts and ideas of principals and administrators from all areas of the world, from all different levels, with varying areas of expertise. You will always have something to learn from reading these posts.”

I didn’t ask them to comment. I didn’t ask them to set up a Google Reader account and subscribe to the many blogs I read. I didn’t ask them to start blogging themselves. I asked them to read – something, I would hope, most administrators are doing anyway. I know some of those administrators went home and read a few posts on Connected Principals. I know others tuned out my request.

As of late, there has been some chatter about whether or not blogging is worth administrators’ time. Ryan Bretag shared a great post detailing why his principal doesn’t need to blog in order to be a great leader. Justin Tarte responded by asking is blogging really worth it? Questions considered in these posts and comments: Why are principals spending time blogging when that time could be better devoted to doing other things in their schools?  Are administrators blogging because they find true value in the practice, or because they’re trying to make a name for themselves? Where do administrators find the time to do this?

I’ve always enjoyed writing. When I was young I filled notebooks and composition books with stories that usually involved a family with 8-10 kids whose names all started with the same letter. I’d write detailed descriptions of all of the characters and I’d invent their personalities and dramas through my words on the page. This was a creative outlet for me. It was entertainment.

Fast forward twenty years, and I have discovered that I enjoy blogging about educational issues. It helps me reflect on my practice. If I read a book, a blog post, or a tweet, writing about the ideas shared helps me make connections with my own work and that of our students and teachers. I also compose short posts on our district website. I like to share the exciting things going on in our school so parents can share in our experiences. Glorified newsletter on the school website? Maybe. Still, it’s another way for me to reach out to our community. I maintain the staff blog to provide updates about school happenings and share links/ideas I find in my online reading. I’m trying to connect my teachers with those ideas and model how I use social media to enhance my practice. Glorified staff mass-email? Maybe. But it’s way easier to maintain, and everything is archived in one neat little package. Our students began blogging this year. When I meet with a class who has just begun the process, I always show them my blog. It’s important for them to know that blogging is a mode of writing that many find to be valuable, and that we’re not asking them to blog for the sake of blogging.

So what do you think? Are administrators who blog and tweet self-indulgent at the expense of their schools?

My response to that question is also a question. Why is this a topic of conversation? Is this not yet another example of how the work of educators is viewed through such a critical, judgmental lens?

There are many teachers and administrators who write and publish books. Why are we not examining how those educators spend their time with an equally critical lens? I have to imagine the time commitment to writing, editing, and publishing a print book is much more demanding than setting aside time on a Sunday morning to compose a blog post. What about the teachers and principals who work second jobs? Or who serve as coaches? Or Sunday school teachers? Or who run 10Ks on the weekends? These uses of time benefit both the educator and those who are impacted by their additional roles. They are using their skillsets and knowledge to positively influence others and themselves, and the time commitment is great. That time is not devoted specifically to their classrooms or students.

On the flipside, what about the teachers and administrators who spend their evenings zoned out in front of the television? Couldn’t they be better spending their time to enhance the education of their students? Why are we not critiquing their evening hour activities? The simple reason is that we don’t know about it.

“This sounds really great, Lyn, and I definitely see the benefit, but I can’t seem to grasp how I would ever make the time, with all of the other things we have to do.” I get it. I’m a principal, too. A commitment to blogging or tweeting honestly requires you to take a really careful look at how you are spending your time, setting priorities for what you want to achieve for your school, deciding if blogging as a reflective practice will help enhance learning for your teachers, students, and self, and then make a plan to get it done. Superintendent Chris Kennedy addresses the time commitment from a practical standpoint in his post, “The “How do you find the time?” Question.” So for those of us that do make the time, it means that we have found ways to incorporate it into our seemingly endless list of to-dos. It does not necessarily mean that we’re sacrificing or overlooking vital responsibilities to make time to do this. I can say personally that I examine on an almost daily basis how much time I’m spending using social media, deciding where to adjust, looking at the growing stack of paperwork on my desk, contemplating how those processes can be more streamlined, etc. It’s one of the real struggles of leadership vs. management.

To be transparent is to be vulnerable. Blogging is not for everyone. I would never suggest that an administrator can’t be fully effective if he does not blog about his practice. Just as there is no one-size-fits-all education for a child, there is no right or wrong method for growing professionally. I blog because it helps me reflect on my practice. I choose to share the benefits of social media with others because if they can find one effective use of the tools to help their own professional growth and/or that of their schools, then I have helped to make a difference. I enjoy reading others’ posts because there is always someone out there who is doing something better than me, who has found a more effective way of implementing a program or idea, and who can lift my spirits when I’m feeling overwhelmed and anxious about my role.

I blog when I have something to share. I don’t blog because there’s a space with lynhilt.com reserved just for me. I don’t fret that if I fail to post for a few weeks, people are going to stop reading. I don’t even have a firm handle on how many people read my blog, because I am frankly clueless when it comes to Google Analytics. When I feel blogging no longer has something to offer, I plan to exit quietly. Will probably use Blurb to turn my blog into a book or something.

The bottom line for me is, if you enjoy blogging and it helps bring meaning to your life and work, do it. If you enjoy reading others’ blogs and commenting, do it. If Tweeting is your thing, fantastic. I am sure I will find merit in what you share. If you find that sitting at your desk analyzing stacks of standardized testing data is a beneficial use of your time, carry on. If none of these things appeal to you, then I hope you find joy in whatever method of professional growth you choose.

If wanting to reflect so I can better my practice, and reading to learn more so I can strengthen my ability to serve students is self-indulgent, then add another scoop of ice cream to that dish. And don’t forget the cherry on top!

43 Comments

  1. Jana Scott Lindsay (mollybmom) said:

    I am completely intrigued by the amount of conversation that has been sparked by your inquiry… because that is exactly what it is. Asking questions and seeking answers is the type of higher level thinking and investigations we invite our learners to engagae in each and every day.

    I believe that anyone who is involved in education needs to model life long learning… it can be blogging, connecting with an online PLN, researching, investigating, asking questions, reflecting on one’s practice.

    Do we believe we are too busy or bogged down to take part in opportunities that invite, nurture, and help us to grow our own learning?

    I feel passionately that each and every one of us must be willing to realize the adage “I am smarter today than I was yesterday.”

    Food for thought.

    April 24, 2011
    Reply
    • Lyn Hilt said:

      Jana, thank you for taking the time to comment. I was also pleasantly surprised by how this topic seemed to capture people’s attention. I think you make an excellent point, that if these practices are helping us grow as professionals, we need to make the time. I see too many teachers and admin who are complacent in their ways, not looking to exert their own efforts to improve. That type of mindset will not help our schools grow!

      April 27, 2011
      Reply
  2. Thank you so much Lyn for this! Just a brilliant post & an important conversation that is definitely worth having. Not every principal has the ability and the desire to write inspiring blog posts…but I really think those who do – should! Because their voice is needed out there! Vision is important and those principals who have vision should share it. Not everyone can read all the educational philosophy books published out there but we all can read this blog! Finding time to blog & share ideas, philosophy, educational epiphanies, what works and what doesn’t is important to share with not only the school community but the world!

    I’ve shared this blog with my principal who is an inspired and inspiring administrator. He’s also a published author and an amazing public speaker! Sadly, just as I was gonna help him set up his own blog my district banned Blogger – of course, not deterred, I’m gonna pitch Edublogs – next I’m hoping he’ll try the Twitters because his voice is absolutely worth having in the blogosphere! (ok, that totally sounds like I’m apple polishing here but it’s not – really!) I’m a fan & he’s been amazingly supportive of *my* voice & career in the years he’s been my leader!

    Blogging is not for everyone – but when administrators “get it” when they understand how the future of social media can positively impact education, the importance of connecting with and creating personal learning networks, and dare to be transparent – well, that’s where the educational magic starts!

    Cheers!
    ~Gwyneth Jones
    The Daring Librarian

    April 24, 2011
    Reply
    • Lyn Hilt said:

      Gwyenth,
      Thanks so much for your comment! It sounds like your principal is someone from whom I could learn a lot! I appreciate the principals and admin (and teachers!) who are using social media to share the great things happening in their schools. I suppose it is selfish that I want to learn from their successes and mistakes!

      April 27, 2011
      Reply
  3. Lin,

    I enjoyed this reflective post and have but one simple thought to share. In my opinion there are some folks out there that do blog for their own selfish reasons. However, I think they are certainly in the minority. For a majority of blogging educators, I feel it a reflective practice. With that in mind, I would argue that the educators who blog and reflect are often the best teachers. They are willing and able to take a critical look at their work and share it with a global audience. They are putting themselves and their work out there where many shut a door and hide what they do. I am not a great teacher but I think that through blogging, commenting, talking, tweeting, and connecting I can be just a bit better each day for my kids.

    Cheers and keep on blogging!

    Josh

    April 24, 2011
    Reply
    • Lyn Hilt said:

      Thanks, Josh. I agree there are some that blog for selfish reasons, but, like you said, we need to appreciate those who are using the platform to reflect upon their practice and share with others. As you know, it’s risky being a transparent learner, but the benefits are numerous.

      April 27, 2011
      Reply
  4. Justin Tarte said:

    All I can say is…great post Lyn!

    You make some excellent points, and I don’t think it could have been said any better than how you said it.

    Well done!

    April 24, 2011
    Reply
    • Lyn Hilt said:

      Thanks, Justin! I always appreciate your support, and your posts always make me think and reflect on my practice.

      April 27, 2011
      Reply
  5. John Maher said:

    Educators taking advantage of social media tools in order to connect with other concerned parties isn’t a waste, it’s an investment.

    Any tool can be used in a constructive/non-constructive fashion. it’s up to the user.

    If administrators (especially administrators) are unwilling or unable to learn new modes of connecting and networking with their peers and others, they aren’t doing everything they can to optimize the effectiveness of their institutions, and they should make way for someone who isn’t afraid to use new technologies in a responsible fashion.

    April 24, 2011
    Reply
    • Lyn Hilt said:

      John, you make some excellent points. Blogging, tweeting…who cares what the platform is, it’s what educators are doing with the tools that matters. It’s the connections they’re making, resources they’re sharing, relationships they’re building… I agree that while the tools can be overwhelming to some, there are opportunities to start small. A small investment in time will help streamline communications to run a more efficient learning organization.

      April 27, 2011
      Reply
  6. Dwight Carter said:

    Lyn,

    Excellent post and a wonderful defense of blogging as a reflective practice. One of the first things I heard in my first education class 17 years ago was that reflection is at the heart of our practice as educators. Reflection is necessary for growth and blogging is a way to not allow model reflection, but to archive one’s own professional and personal growth.

    It is strange that it’s even a topic of conversation, as you explained. I have learned a great deal since I began tweeting and reading others blogs, and it’s free! The use of social media to grow professionally can revolutionize the craft of education as long as we are fnot ighting amongst ourselves about who should or shouldn’t blog, tweet, or otherwise. My wife always tells me “people make time to do the things they really want to do.” This is no exception. Thank you for your honest and passionate post!

    Be Great,

    Dwight

    April 24, 2011
    Reply
    • Lyn Hilt said:

      Dwight,
      Thanks for your comments! My intent was not to have to defend blogging as a practice, but after your comment it appears I did just that. 🙂 I agree, as educators we always stress the importance of reflecting: after each lesson, at the end of each day, to try to identify areas where we can strengthen our practice. So it’s curious to me why some choose to criticize this practice. Your wife is right- everyone gets the same 24 hours in the day. It’s how we choose to use them that counts. 🙂

      April 27, 2011
      Reply
  7. Lyn,

    This is an exceptionally well written piece that addressed a critical question about the role of the principal in today’s schools. We live in a social media world and our learners are learning beyond the confines of the classroom walls. This is a trend that is going to increase at an exponential rate—one that I believe most of us are going to be blind-sided by if we don’t embrace building networks beyond our offices, buildings, counties and states.

    The value of these PLN’s is the varied ways in which you can share, collaborate, learn, lead, teach and problem solve. You are not limited to the phone, a meeting or an email. You have the ability to seek input from varied sources all over the world….that is, if you want input.

    This is the way of business….and is the direction of education. Principals and teachers who are embracing this method of sharing (via their own blog, school blog, twitter, posterous, etc.) will find that they are closer to understanding the flip that is coming at us rapidly.

    The most honest and key section of Lyn’s piece is this: “If you enjoy blogging and it helps bring meaning to your life and work, do it. If you enjoy reading others’ blogs and commenting, do it. If Tweeting is your thing, fantastic. I am sure I will find merit in what you share. If your find that sitting at your desk analyzing stacks of standardized testing data is a beneficial use of your time, carry on. If none of these things appeal to you, then I hope you find joy in whatever method of professional growth you choose.”

    And I would like to add this: CHOOSE SOME SORT OF PROFESSIONAL GROWTH IN THE SOCIAL MEDIA CLOUD. Your learning and leadership depend on it!

    Again, great work on this piece, Lyn!

    Theresa

    April 24, 2011
    Reply
    • Lyn Hilt said:

      Theresa,
      Thanks for your comments. I find it sometimes overwhelming that there are so many principals in practice today who do not use social media, not even for simple communications. This is why I try to help others see how its use has benefited my practice. Again, I don’t think every principal should blog, because it might not be the right reflective avenue for them, but there are definitely ways that communication and organizational efficiency can be enhanced through using these tools. The tools will change, yes, but if administrators are willing to devote some time to reflecting upon their practice and helping their teachers and students do the same, the whole school will benefit.

      April 27, 2011
      Reply
  8. I’m a little worried this reflection has cost your students and staff attention they deserve; however, it was wonderfully written. I’m a little worried my comment has cost my students and staff attention they deserve; however, it was important to add my two cents. Now I’m wondering if my most recent post about farts should have seen the light of day …

    April 24, 2011
    Reply
    • Lyn Hilt said:

      Tom, I consider it an honor that you chose to waste your time with me and my post. 🙂 Keep on reflecting, we will all keep reading!

      April 27, 2011
      Reply
  9. Lyn,
    Thank you for this post! It was especially interesting for me because I just started blogging last week (although I have been active on twitter since December). What I have found just with the two posts I have written is that blogging forces me to reflect on my professional practice and helps keep me from getting stuck “in the weeds.” Reading good blog posts and sharing resources with my PLN on twitter not only gives me a better understanding of social networking and how it can benefit my school, but helps keep me focused on the big picture. It’s the classic management vs. leadership conundrum.

    I believe it was Eleanor Roosevelt who said that if you stick your head up above the crowd, you are going to get criticized. Keep your head above the crowd and keep on blogging, Lyn!

    Cheers,
    Susan

    April 24, 2011
    Reply
    • Lyn Hilt said:

      Susan, welcome to the blogosphere! I will definitely add your blog to my Reader and look forward to learning from you! I agree, it’s a great practice to help us focus on the “big picture.” Sometimes it’s so easy to get sucked into our own little world within our school walls. There is great benefit in extending outward to share resources and find ideas and support.

      April 27, 2011
      Reply
  10. Eric Johnson said:

    Lyn,

    A great post that defends a practice that shouldn’t need a defense. I’m not really sure why I started blogging, but I know why I have continued. Blogging, simply put, helps me become a better teacher. I can share the successes and failures that I have had in my classroom and the feedback and encouragement from readers is invaluable.

    Working through my thoughts and practices while composing a blog helps me to evaluate, extend, and improve my classroom performance for my kids. Reading the thoughts and practices of my amazing online peers inspires me to become better and allows me to ‘steal’ their best practices.

    For me, that’s why blogging matters. Thanks for sharing this great post.

    Eric

    April 24, 2011
    Reply
    • Lyn Hilt said:

      Eric, I appreciate your comments! I agree, those who blog for reflective purposes and to share with others need not defend their practice. Thanks for sharing how blogging enhances your practice. Continue sharing the great things you do!

      April 27, 2011
      Reply
  11. J_Bednar said:

    Lyn, as I prepare for leading my school’s SIP Day with blogging as one topic, I am very appreciative of this post. I think your point about making choices about our own time and professional growth is important. I may blog more or less than someone else just as easily as I may read more or less. As long as ideas are shared and benefit at least one other person, I think the means is less important than the end. I couldn’t be as effective without the ideas I’ve gained from blogging/reflecting/tweeting and that’s what works for me.

    April 25, 2011
    Reply
    • Lyn Hilt said:

      Jason,
      Thanks for reading and for your comments! You’re right, as long as one person benefits from the ideas you shared, I consider it a win. Not to mention the reflective benefits. Hoping your SIP day goes well…let me know if you need anything!

      April 27, 2011
      Reply
  12. David Truss said:

    I read this post before 5:30am (China time), as I get notifications of new CP posts in my email, and email is where I start my day to get it out of the way before work. I read this post and thought… great post, I’ve got to comment. But I put it off for later. I did respond to a comment from Jonathan Martin on my CP post before getting ready for work.

    Arrived at work at 7:30. I did a few tweets, and read a great post by Justin Tarte that I asked permission to share here on CP. With interruptions, I wrote a one paragraph comment and copy-pasted Justin’s post here: http://www.connectedprincipals.com/archives/3404 . This got posted at about 8:45 am (school starts at 8:30 so full confession, I ‘dipped into’ work time… but it’s not like I spent the first 1 hour before school just doing this, and my morning tweet count sits at 4 tweets).

    I won’t detail my day, but I’ll share 3 highlights:
    1. Walking into the Grade 1 class and having students ask me to read their journals. (I made it into every class except 1 today.)
    2. My wife coming in on her day off to help run a fundraiser for Japan, coordinated by our intermediate students.
    3. A teacher asking me, “Dave what would you do in this situation?…” and knowing that many teachers would feel awkward asking their principal the same question. 🙂

    I don’t think I had more than an hour at my desk today. An after school parent meeting until 4:30pm meant Tweet #5 came at 5:50pm… a ReTweet of post from a former superintendent that I forwarded quickly to my Canadian Superintendent (where I’m on leave) and I’ll share it with my current Superintendent when I do email again later tonight.
    Here it is: http://www.jacquietaylorconsulting.com/blog/2011/04/23/Describing-the-classrooms-and-schools-we-want.aspx
    I left for home just before 6:30pm.

    Had dinner, helped my oldest with a quick math problem, and now I’m writing this as the kids have a Chinese lesson & my wife watches Amazing Race.

    Tonight after the kids are in bed, I’ll add links to a post I wrote on my weekend (on homework), inspired by comments on another post I also wrote on my weekend.

    This is my entertainment. This is my reflection. This is my opportunity to learn. I enjoy it… thoroughly!

    And I wish I had time to do more! Here is my post-count for this school year:
    April 2011 (3)
    March 2011 (3)
    February 2011 (3)
    January 2011 (4)
    December 2010 (4)
    November 2010 (4)
    October 2010 (5)
    September 2010 (2)

    Sometimes I will tweet at work. Sometimes when I’m eating alone in my office, so that I can supervise lunch duty, I’ll read blogs. Sometimes I’ll stay up late or wake up at a ridiculous hour to write something. I don’t watch TV. I don’t really even watch movies. I don’t read enough books. I don’t get enough exercise.

    Selfish?

    April 25, 2011
    Reply
    • Lyn Hilt said:

      David,
      As always, thank you for reading, and your comment is the perfect addition to the post. Love this line: “This is my entertainment. This is my reflection. This is my opportunity to learn. I enjoy it… thoroughly!” I don’t think any of us would invest the time if it wasn’t something we enjoyed, or it wasn’t a practice that was benefiting our practice. The day I stop enjoying it is the day I stop blogging, tweeting, etc. Continue to make the time to do what you do, David! We all learn so much from you!

      April 27, 2011
      Reply
  13. Angie said:

    How do I find the time? Isn’t that the question every educator asks when they are learning about something new. It doesn’t have to be tech related. How do I find time to differentiate learning, read a professional book, create a rich question for math problem solving, The real important things take time. My husband @bharrisonvp always says “stop doing the things you usually do that aren’t high yield strategies.” Sounds simple enough but educators cling to routines and hold onto things they always do without giving much thought to how It effects student learning. I believe that the most important thing educators must do is reflect. We have to reflect on a daily basis. Is this strategy working? Did this lesson meet this child’s needs? Am I creating rich task? I blogged this weekend about the writing process. Educators share thoughts in a hallway after hours, at recess or at lunch time. However, they are sharing and reflecting with their peers and aren’t getting other perspectives. I email less and I try to blog whenever an issues is floating around in my head. Through blogging I have educators across the world ask me questions, give their insight and post links to further my thinking. The blog expands my thinking and makes me a better teacher. My response to “how do you find time” is you find the time to do the most important things that improve student learning. Blogging is one of the highest yield strategies that impacts my learning, It’s rewarding to receive instant feedback on my thinking. My question to a group would be how can you ignore this opportunity.

    Keep fighting the good fight, spread the word. Blog!

    April 25, 2011
    Reply
    • Lyn Hilt said:

      Angie,
      Thanks for taking the time to comment… even more irritating than the “How do I find the time?” question is the “It must be nice to have that kind of time!” comment. Insulting, much? I try to brush those comments aside and remember exactly what your husband suggested. Throughout one school day, there are so many opportunities to use time more wisely. If we’re not using part of our day for reflection, we’re losing the opportunity to better our practice. Thanks for your blog and sharing as you do!

      April 27, 2011
      Reply
  14. Kyle said:

    Lyn,

    Thank you for writing this great, and inspiring post. I always appreciate being reaffirmed for why I tweet and why I blog (heavier on the tweeting side). 🙂 All of the learning and conversation I’ve experienced through social media the last 2 1/2 years has had such a profound impact on my life professionally and personally. On the professional side, I have learned so much; it really is and will always be invaluable to me. It’s even led me to pursue a doctorate program that will start this Fall (if I’m accepted). I’m not doing it just so I can be Dr. Pace (that was weird typing that). I plan on getting every possible drop of learning I can squeeze out. I was just talking to Justin Tarte about how I’m so excited to soak everything up like a sponge and I can’t wait to take on this next chapter in my learning journey! I’m excited about the role social media will have (yes, WILL, because I plan on it playing a vital role) as I learn new things about leadership. I want to be better at what I do, and I feel like this is the next step I’m supposed to take. I plan on tweeting and blogging playing an important part as I have questions and reflect on my new learning experiences. Thanks again for reaffirming things for me and I’m sure for many others.

    April 25, 2011
    Reply
    • Lyn Hilt said:

      Thanks, Kyle! Congrats on beginning your doctoral work! What a great accomplishment. I can’t wait to learn from you as you share your experiences!

      April 27, 2011
      Reply
  15. Deb Chittur said:

    Lyn–

    I’ve been thinking along exactly the same lines you have–why is this a topic of conversation? am not an administrator (although I once had a stint), but I would be kind of insulted if someone asked me this question. Principals are on call 24/7 in most schools and should be considered professionals who can manage their own time. If I had a concern, it would be that blogging and tweeting are cutting into family and personal time, threatening work/life balance.

    Being a building administrator is an incredibly isolating job. You get pressure from below and above the hierarchy and your peers are those with whom you must compete for dwindling funds. Tenured teachers can be impossible to change if they are not inclined, and Central Office and the School Board can fire you if they are unhappy.

    Thank goodness for the internet, where principals can find peers who face their issues and want to help. Thank goodness for those tweeting and blogging principals who are not afraid to share their problems, solutions and expertise so others are not constantly reinventing the wheel.

    April 25, 2011
    Reply
    • Lyn Hilt said:

      Deb,
      Thanks for reading and for taking the time to comment. Mary Anne also remarked that the role of the administrator can be incredibly isolating, and I agree. It is important to find a supportive network. For me and many others, that came from using social media. This is not to say we don’t rely on our site-based colleagues for support and help- of course we do! But it’s important to look outside your own walls and seek the best resources, ideas, and people to support you in your endeavors. We owe it to our students to do so!

      April 27, 2011
      Reply
  16. Lyn ~

    I really appreciated your post, and wish that more administrators could balance their time with writing and blogging, because the tasks can certainly weigh you down. I have been a teacher, instructional coach, asst principal, and principal. Out of all these positions, the job of principal was in many ways very isolating. During my years as a teacher and coach I wrote a professional book, and I wish I could have found the discipline to reflect more in writing as principal. Your commitment to blogging not only allows you to reflect on your practice as an instructional leader, but it’s inviting so many others in on your conversation. And that is so critical. Thanks for sharing!

    April 25, 2011
    Reply
    • Lyn Hilt said:

      Mary Anne,
      Thank you for you comments. I agree very much that the principal’s role can be isolating. It is one of the reasons I was so drawn to social networking. Having a group of professionals to support you and inspire you on a daily basis is so important!

      April 27, 2011
      Reply
  17. Lyn, Thanks for posting such a thoughtful piece of writing. I’m doing a little learning online at 10:44 at night after a long day in the office. For some reason I don’t think that it’s interfering with the job that I’m doing as a school leader.
    Research like this (Study shows blogging may increase productivity at work) also supports the practice of blogging. My guess is that this won’t be the first one showing the benefits of using social networking tools for learning.
    http://nyunews.com/news/2011/04/15/15blogging/

    April 26, 2011
    Reply
    • Lyn Hilt said:

      Thank you for reading and commenting, Blair. Thanks for the article you shared. I definitely have learned so much more about educational best practices and have had an easier time staying current through the use of social media. I checked out your blog and look forward to learning more from you!

      April 27, 2011
      Reply
  18. Brian Kuhn said:

    Wow, what a well thought out and articulated piece on this topic. It is really about priorities isn’t it. We all have the same 24h per day, 7 days per week. We all make choices in how we use our precious waking hours. Some, like @datruss, sleep less than others (sorry Dave) and have more waking hours to prioritize. But, most of us choose to watch TV or not, read a book or not, go golfing, play another sport, go for a walk, ride a bike, blog, build a PLN, etc. I think it’s simple – what we value, we will invest in. For sure some people’s time is consumed by others and is difficult for them to manage. I know many principals that struggle with difficult staffs or parent communities, investigations, challenging students and their time and their energy is exhausted. But ultimately we need to choose…

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this – I will definitely share it with others I work with who struggle with embracing the digital community.

    April 27, 2011
    Reply
    • Lyn Hilt said:

      Brian,
      I appreciate your comments. You’re right, it’s all about choices, acknowledging what’s personally meaningful for us, and deciding how to spend the time we’re given. I agree that some principals/educators have more demanding schedules due to the makeups of their school communities. Finding that “just right” fit of a school that challenges and supports you in your endeavors to help students learn is so important for administrators and teachers alike.

      April 28, 2011
      Reply
  19. Great post.

    As I was reading through it I was thinking that you could substitute “principal” for almost any other role in education. I was especially captivated by the line, “To be transparent is to be vulnerable. Blogging is not for everyone.” I am often involved in conversations about why people are not more “into social media” and contributing on-line and I think this is one of the key issues. We all have different comfort levels and while it is good to push the boundaries there are also risks associated.

    As some one who taught in a location where my nearest colleagues were 600 km away by plane, and internet was not an option, I find this a very exciting time. Dialogue is as often and continuous as you want to make it.

    Looking forward to the next post.

    April 28, 2011
    Reply
    • Lyn Hilt said:

      Great point, Richard, you are right that many educators (and people in general!) are wary about becoming more transparent with their learning. I think their reservations are just, but most educators who have the opportunity to learn about the risks, how to protect oneself, how to appropriately manage the tools, find that they are comfortable beginning to share in this manner. A lot of the hesitation comes from the “not knowing” what is possible. One of the greatest uses, as you mention, is connecting with other educators. We’ve all felt alone in our roles at some point in our careers. It’s nice to have a support system and steady stream of ideas and resources coming our way! Thanks for your comments!

      April 28, 2011
      Reply
  20. I love blogging, it is a stop and go thing with me depending on how busy I am and what I have in the hopper to write about but the problem with Blogging as an educator is that you really have to watch what you write.

    Much of what you want to say about education has to be tailored so that you don’t lose your job. You have administrators, parents, kids, colleagues all as possible readers. One slip of the written word and boom your career is over.

    The thing is, that it really doesn’t take much for this to happen and there doesn’t even have to be any malicious intent.

    Write away, it is good for the soul but watch your words.

    April 28, 2011
    Reply
    • Lyn Hilt said:

      Keith, thank you for your comments. I am happy to have found your blog as well. You provide some good advice in your comment. I think we’ve all seen the media’s heightened portrayal of the teacher who blogged inappropriate comments about her students, or the lack of judgment used between teachers and students on Facebook. I agree that blogging as an educator requires a great deal of tact, but those of us that are writing for reflective purposes tend to focus on the positives, the questions we have, the ideas we’d like to share, without harping on the negative. That’s certainly not always the case. There are plenty of private forums available for therapeutic writing to vent about one’s frustrations- think: spiral bound notebook 🙂 – and it is unfortunate that the public’s perception of educators blogging has been shaped by the few stories of outlandish use of the tool. Thanks for reading!

      April 28, 2011
      Reply
      • Thanks for the quick response! I agree that with a blog that is for reflection on professional practice there shouldn’t be much negative content. BUT where the trouble begins is when you start giving opinions good or bad. If you thoughts are not in line with those around you there is an inherent risk of getting your wrists slapped.

        I am always pushing that boundary with my Old School Parent blog but it is just too much fun to write and I won’t back off until someone who matters tells me to. (more than likely my wife 😉

        My professional reflection blog hasn’t enough content yet to really be of use to anyone yet but it to has opinion that some might not agree with. None of it is slanderous or inappropriate but I can see getting pulled aside one day and told, “stand down”

        Anyhow it is quiet coffee time before the kids crawl out of bet.

        Cheers,
        K Rispin

        April 28, 2011
        Reply
  21. […] what might be seen as core business. I can do this at home at night & I was interested to read one blog post that said caustically that teachers & principals might be at home “zoned out” in front of […]

    November 9, 2011
    Reply

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