The Reflection Pool

I Did It!

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at
Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at

You never what you can really do until you try. Like every old cliché, it holds a kernel of truth. When I impulsively committed to #AprilBlogaDay, I really wondered if it was possible. I worried about time and ideas. How could I do it?

As a teacher and principal, I have worked with students who had trouble with writing. A lot of the difficulty was around writing stamina. They couldn’t think what to write about. They couldn’t write more than a couple of sentences. One successful strategy was timed daily free writing. Writers begin on the first day with five minutes writing on any topic, then gradually add a little time each day or week.

#AprilBlogaDay increased my writing stamina. Once I began and then blogged for a few days in a row, I gained confidence and wanted to continue. I wanted to meet the challenge! People began to read my blog regularly and even comment. I have to admit that was cool.  Then around Day 16 it became harder and I struggled to find meaningful ideas to share. So I paid more attention to Twitter and others’ posts. That helped me think a little more deeply. Another solution was mining my daily experiences and trying to see them through a reflective lens. Not only did that help my writing, it helped me make sense of each day in a more focussed way.

When I look back over the month, I am pleased with many of my posts. Some came really easily, others took more time. There are a few weaker ones (I’ll let readers decide which ones!) but the month represents who I am in many ways.

Thank you to everyone who witnessed this journey. And thank you especially to Chris Crouch, the brain behind #AprilBlogaDay.

It’s Not So Much the Advice

Photo Credit: Conor Lawless via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: Conor Lawless via Compfight cc

I’ve been using tech for a long time. Commodore 64 anyone? I remember not being able to print an essay in the 1980’s (totally dating myself!) and trying to hand the prof a 133mm floppy disk.  Needless to say, he wouldn’t accept it and looked at me as if I had two heads.

Over my career in education, I’ve received tons of great tech advice. Whether it was learning how to use a word processor or our very first district intranet message system, someone has always been there to help. Now I rely on some truly gifted amateurs in our district to help me figure out how to leverage Google Docs or make my blog look better.

I really can’t remember any actively bad advice. I wish I had a crazy anecdote to share that would shock you or make you laugh. What strikes me most is how many people didn’t get what I was doing through the years. You’re taking the kids to the lab to do what?  You’re using Drop-what? You’re participating in a Twitter chat? You have a blog?  What??

Just like that professor, they gave me puzzled looks and then just, well, ignored it.

I’m still trying to figure out why sometimes people ignore what they don’t understand. It could be a fear of looking stupid – what Steven Katz calls the Imposter Syndrome (I wrote a post on this topic last year).  It’s too bad, because it would be cool to share and learn together.

I Can’t Eat the Frog

And then I regret it. Usually profoundly.

Photo Credit: Santiago Ron via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: Santiago Ron via Compfight cc

There’s a wonderful book on productivity called Eat That Frog by Brian Tracy. It’s full of humour and helpful tips to stop procrastinating. The idea is to do the things that you really don’t want to do first to get them over with and out of the way. It’s excellent advice. Unfortunately, some of the time I don’t follow it.

I am a terrible procrastinator. I really need a hard deadline – then my work ethic kicks in – I don’t like to be late. That’s why I sign up for races. Otherwise I’d probably never get off my you-know-what.

Most of the time, I’m efficient enough and I leave myself just enough time for those really hard projects or reports so they get done, and to the standard I expect for myself. But every once in a while…I get caught.  Yes, even after all my experience. What happens? I apologize and pull an all nighter. I should’ve eaten that frog.

Do you want to hear my favourite joke about procrastination?  I’ll tell you later.

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