The Reflection Pool

3 Things my Blog Titles Need to be Better

Photo Credit: striatic via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: striatic via Compfight cc

I just spent some time analyzing a handful of titles from previous posts using Co-schedule Headline Analyzer. Here are my results:

I Can’t Eat the Frog => B+ or 39

It’s Summer, Take Some Time Off => C- or 50

Up the Ladder and Down the Snakes => B+ or 68

Living in the Tension => C- or 64

What Should Professional Learning Look Like? => A+ or 77

Full disclosure: I like writing titles. I’ve always enjoyed thinking up some slightly clever title for papers, poems and now blog posts.  When Doug Peterson shared the link to the analyzer in one of his daily blog posts, I thought it would be fun to analyze my titles. So I was a bit surprised to see that according to this tool, I’m not very good! My so-called cleverness seems to be getting in the way.

So what do I need?

  1. My titles need to be longer. Apparently titles with more words have more power.
  2. My titles need more “emotional” and “power” words. Something called emotional market value makes titles more shareable.
  3. My titles should follow a format that draws a reader in. Formats like questions, lists (note my title for this post), or how to posts gain more traction.

What’s your opinion? What kind of headline leads you to read an article or blog?

(N.B. The headline for this post got an A+. Score!)

#makeschooldifferent – Five Things

Photo Credit: DaveBleasdale via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: DaveBleasdale via Compfight cc

With thanks to Scott McLeod, who started this whole thing, Donna Fry, who picked it up in Ontario, and Aviva Dunsiger who tagged me in her post.

1.  We have to stop pretending…that learning is natural and easy. Maybe when we were babies and toddlers, learning came easy. But it’s hard and it takes time.

2. We have to stop pretending…one kind of professional learning is best. Neither edcamp, or learning communities, or large group or self directed learning work all the time.

3. We have to stop pretending… that learning how to use an application or software means we are using technology to enhance learning.

4. We have to stop pretending…that change can happen quickly. For most of us, we need time to absorb, to try, to reflect, to learn.

5. We have to stop pretending…that one approach, one researcher, one policy maker has all the answers.

Next up, I challenge Jeff Dumoulin, Sherry Spelic, Brandon Grasley, Heather Theijsmeijer, and Beth Hulan. What do you think we need to do to #makeschooldifferent?

What Should Professional Learning Look Like?

Jared Bennett precipitated a great discussion at Edcamp Hamilton about professional learning with this tagline:

Sit and Git, Spray and Pray, There’s Gotta Be a Better Way.”

He wondered aloud if it was possible to think about professional learning differently than the prescribed professional activity days or the once a month mandatory staff meetings. What followed was a lively discussion where a variety of edcampers shared good and bad experiences and thought about necessary operational training, running edcamp models in schools for half a day, and why presenters and facilitators create deadly boring sessions. We all agreed that whenever a presenter says “Don’t do this with your students, but I have 45 slides to show you…” or something similar, you know the presentation is going to be terrible!

I listened, fascinated to hear some well-considered opinions about how we can learn. Sometimes I wanted to defend our district practices, but wisely held my tongue. That’s not what the discussion was about. I needed to listen and think.  At the end of the session, I was left wondering what it meant for me as someone who designs and implements structures for professional learning.

Learning is hard work and does not necessarily come naturally. I subscribe to the definition shared by Steven Katz in Intentional Interruption that it is a change in thinking and behaviour. Learning is not sharing. It’s not even having a great discussion. Learning means changing your schema.

That does not mean that sharing ideas or resources (Eduslam or Smackdown, anyone?) or having a great discussions with colleagues isn’t useful. These are important steps in beginning to learn. The real sign of learning for me is when my behaviour begins to change.

There’s no one right model for professional learning. We need a variety for different reasons. For example, self-directed learning emerges from our current work and context. We identify areas where we feel our knowledge is lacking or where we have a passion to learn more. Structured learning time with a set agenda, time for thinking and discussion and then deeper understanding provides a framework.  Learning can emerge from that framework if we can disrupt our regular patterns of thinking. Job-embedded learning helps us evaluate and reflect on the effectiveness of our actions in the moment with support from our peers. Time for reflection and even blogging gives us opportunities to consider new ideas and new practices, assess how successful they were and adjust our schema as necessary.

There’s no magic bullet to professional learning. I need to continue to reflect and refine.  I am sure of one thing: sit and git is the worst.

Photo Credit: venspired via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: venspired via Compfight cc