Beginnings.

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At this time of year, busy bloggers typically compile their top ten lists of <insert topic here> , reminisce about the highlights and lowlights of the year gone by, and solidify in writing their resolutions to yield a more fruitful life in the coming year. I’ve read several blog posts this week that open with those sentiments, so I guess all of the cool kids are doing it. Here’s my attempt.

2012 was a keeper. I can say that I chose to make family and friends a priority and put my professional growth and participation in connected learning on the back burner. In March, when my husband and I found out we were expecting our first child, as cliche as it sounds, it changed everything. Suddenly every day my thoughts were consumed with the child who would be joining our family in the fall, and, add to that the sheer exhaustion and demands on the body and mind that pregnancy brings, I had little desire to read, reflect, write, converse, and publish. I definitely dropped out of the conversations. My “in-person” learning experiences this year were plentiful, including the opportunity to present at Educon, attend ASCD, Pete & C, and two edcamps, present to a local school district about connected leadership, participate in PLP Live, and share various webinars for TLC, not to mention all of the development obtained through my principal’s role. Despite that involvement, I was distracted at best.

And honestly? I grew tired of the redundancy in my social networking circles. I felt as though most blog posts I read, conference sessions I attended, tweets that streamed by…. more of the same.

Yawn.

That’s probably not fair, because I know there are numerous educators that exist in a professional vacuum where they have no desire to connect globally with other educators or enhance learning opportunities for their students. As a result, there are schools where administrators and teachers continue to tread along the road of complacency, focusing their sights on improved standardized test scores and neglecting the needs of the whole child. They’re implementing rigid, “rigorous” curricula and Common Core and I-can’t-address-your-questions-right-now-Sam-it-doesnt-fit-the-objective lessons in traditional settings, very teacher-driven and uninspired.

I also can’t criticize the flow of information coming my way- if I do nothing to change up the blogs I read or the communities with whom I interact and how I engage with them, “more of the same” is what I should expect.

Then at some point I took a step back. I examined the redundant conversations and realized that even though the topics remained the same, new voices emerged. For those of us who have been cultivating professional relationships online for the past few years, we can’t forget that every day there are hundreds of educators being newly introduced to Twitter as a learning tool, or beginning to understand the power of blogging or infusing project-based learning opportunities into their classrooms, recognizing the need to challenge the status quo and empowering students each day.

They’re beginning a journey.

I have never been one for resolutions. I lack the self discipline. My husband sets resolutions every year, and he keeps them. He went for a run every day for three straight years. The reason I don’t set black and white goals such as this is because I don’t want to feel sorry for myself when I fail. I tried Project 365 last year and while I never came out and made it an official “resolution,” I did hope to make it past March. I didn’t. (This year, I will succeed in taking at least one photo per day, because I have the cutest subject ever to capture. #tooeasy)

I’ve been familiar with the one little word challenge for the past several years, as a scrapbooker I was always inspired by Ali Edwards and her project approach to this commitment, and recently I read a post by Jeff Delp who explained how he would incorporate his one word, Today, into his life this year.

For me, that word is Beginnings.

First, the obvious. My son‘s life is just beginning. I want to make sure I help make his life the most wonderful life it can be. He has already changed me and my family for the better, a thousandfold. Parenthood is no joke. I’ve worked harder the past two months than I ever have before, but this work yields indescribable rewards.

I will begin to clean out the cobwebs. I have a lot going on with the way I interact with, organize, and share information. I will begin to scale back, prioritize, make better sense and use of it all, and be a more dedicated learner. This may mean I learn more privately. So be it.

I will begin to seek opportunities to do work that I love.

I will begin to write more consistently. Some work will be published. Some will not. I was in awe of Jonathan Martin’s 2012 blogging summary post where he highlighted his work and set goals for the coming year. I have nowhere near the readership that Jonathan does (nor the talent), but curious about my blogging history, I clicked on my Archives menu, and I was pleasantly surprised to see this.

Screen Shot 2012-12-20 at 7.23.23 AM

Of course, I know I’ve been blogging since 2009. But to see the many months’ work that I’ve put into this space… it really made me want to write more. My writing won’t necessarily be shared in this space, due to my hiatus from the principalship, but I will write more in 2013.

I will begin to get back to creating. In years past, I spent hours of my free time with creative, crafty endeavors. I miss it.

“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”

As 2013 is a year of beginnings for me, it may also be a year of endings. I need to ensure that those things that add little or no meaning to my life are the first things to end. That will require a lot of self-assessment and prioritizing. I will mess up repeatedly. I’ll waste time doing things that don’t matter. I’ll be lazy. I’ll get scared and be intimidated.

But I’ll also be inspired. I’ll love and laugh and live. I’ll create and smile and smother my son with kisses.

And when I mess up, I’ll dust myself off, forgive, and begin again.

Wishing you a happy and healthy 2013 to you all!

26 thoughts on “Beginnings.

  1. Well said Lyn…I especially liked the part about the redundancy that often prevails on SM and at conferences. I often have to remind myself that many new people are joining the conversation and those new voices need to be heard. In addition, it is important for those that have been further down the road to help others on their journey. Lots of online spaces can easily become echo chambers and we have to continue to push back and move forward.

    Good luck in your 2013!

    1. Thanks, Josh, you are a loyal reader and commenter here. I agree we need to help others along on this connected journey. If we drop too far out of the conversations, we’ll be losing out on learning from new contributors.
      Wishing you the best this year as well… I know you have a lot of exciting things coming up. Congrats!

      1. Definitely a great bit, Lyn — and I’m with you on the role that OUR OWN choices play in the yawn-factor that online learning spaces can become.

        Not only do we bear the responsibility to mix up our streams when we’re yawning, we bear the responsibility to throw new ideas into the streams that we swim in.

        Sometimes, I think the “I want a bajillion followers” attitude towards social spaces forces people to write the same stuff over and over because it draws more views.

        If we really see social spaces as places to reflect and think together, wouldn’t we write riskier pieces? Wouldn’t we feel safe in sharing ideas that push at the boundaries a bit more?

        So my “beginning” and “today” for this year is to challenge people in my network. To push them. To make them feel slightly uncomfortable.

        Thanks for the inspiration — and bring the baby to Educon! I’ll babysit.

        Miss seeing you…
        Bill

        1. I agree. I always admire the way you push the envelope and make people feel “uncomfortable” (in a good way!) with your posts. I am eager to explore topics more deeply and do the same. I know it can be intimidating for some to blog publicly about topics that are controversial, for fear their views won’t match those of their district/employer, but I think it’s important to share an honest voice in these conversations. I so wish I could attend Educon… I know the baby would learn a lot :) Thanks for contributing here!

  2. Lyn, Love this.

    All of us that jumped into these virtual spaces some 2-3 years ago are all experiencing some sense of ebb and flow with their PLN. It’s natural. We all jumped in with both feet and gobbled up as much as we could. Now that we have been their a while we are realizing that we can’t just continue to push forward without some sense of direction. We’re all trying to figure out how to mold these spaces and connections around our wants, desires and needs. Often, this results in contraction, but in the end it also results in a finely tuned experience.

    This will be a great year for you and your family. Every day, your son will teach you to begin or learn something new… just like him.

    1. I agree we’re experiencing the PLN “ebb and flow.” It’s happened before, it will happen again. As we learn how to best involve ourselves in these spaces, new spaces will emerge… and we’ll start all over again! It’s been wonderful connecting with you, you always contribute so much to my learning! Thanks for commenting!

  3. Lyn,
    I love your comment about parenthood. It certainly is no-joke. It changes perspective and priorities. I chuckled when I looked at your archives menu as I thought about my own blogging attempts. Some good others not so much. I recall talking to you a year or so ago about a blog I started. I even asked for your opinion. You were very kind, provided sound advice but you realized that I still needed to figure it out. What can I really blog about? Then the the light came on! I finally realized that when it comes to blogging all I need to do as a principal is to blog/brag and write about my students. It became easier write but finding the time is difficult. Priorities… I guess I’ve gone full circle.

    1. Ryan, it’s been so nice connecting with you! I really enjoyed our meeting last year at ITSCO and I am glad you have found such meaning in blogging! Blogging about your students is the perfect endeavor! Proud of you!

  4. Lyn,
    This open sharing resonates with me. Thank you. I am so there with you in a different way. My daughter, Chloe is now sixteen. Teenage years are quite a ways away for you…..
    It’s about that meaningful focus on what matters most to us as individuals. That’s how we experience the richness and gifts of living and learning together.

    Cherish these beginnings with your family and I look forward to sharing and celebrating a few glimpses with you as part of your PLN.
    2013 will rock!

    1. Hi, Lisa, thanks so much for your comments! I can’t even think about teenage years! It’s going to be something. :) I know all of us have our own circumstances and priorities and commitments with family and friends… it will be a forever balancing act … such is life! I enjoy learning with you!

  5. Lyn
    A great post (as usual) Many of the points really resonated with me and were good reminders about the importance of family etc. Between my new job as a head of school and my family obligations my life on twitter and being so connected has taken a back seat. At times I feel guilty or that I am missing out. Your post reminded me of the true priorities and focus.
    Thank you
    Akevy

    1. Hi, Akevy, thank you for reading and commenting and for your constant support! I appreciate everything you share. I know you’ll do a fantastic job in your new role. Your school (and family)!) are lucky to have you!

  6. Thank you for your post Lyn. I too have felt a bit of a lull in my PLN life. I feel like the collective we is talking in circles about the same things. I’m taking a bit of a break from it, cleaning out the Reader a little bit, and trying to decide what I can give more than what I can take. My word was and continues to be PATIENCE. For those who walk a new path, for those who walk an old one and for myself, somewhere in the middle. Happy New Year.

    1. Hi, Sarah, thanks for your comments! I definitely understand what you mean by the phrase “talking in circles.” I’ve felt the same way. I reeeally need to revisit my Google Reader feeds. I need to examine the blogs I’ve subscribed to and decide which ones add meaning, and which ones can go. PLUS, I need to find some NEW voices! Patience is an excellent word for the new year. I’ve acquired quite a bit more of it since my little guy came into the world. :)

  7. Lyn,

    Wonderful post. I’ve missed your voice in the conversation, but understand how things change when a little guy arrives on the scene. I think it is important to always step back and evaluate the goals of engaging in SM and learning in general.

    Keep being awesome and I hope to chat soon,

    Nick

    1. Hi, buddy- I miss you too! I’ve been so proud of the work you’re doing with publishing your Evernote awesomeness… we definitely need to catch up. Maybe a movie day!

  8. Happy New Year and congratulations Lyn!

    Your post resonated with me as a parent and professional and the importance of setting priorities. I have come to a place of accepting and embracing the tension that exists between parent and professional and have found some inspiration to see and create with new eyes.

    Best of luck in 2013 and I look forward to learning with you

    J. Bevacqua @jvbevacqua

    1. Thanks, Johnny! I know I will experience education in a whole new light now that I am a mommy. Wishing you a wonderful new year!

  9. Lyn,
    I love it when you blog. Yours is definitely one of my “go tos”. While the whole post was fantastic and I could relate to SO many pieces of it, I think it was this part that resonated most with me:

    I know I have a voice in all this learning that’s going on; but where do I focus it? Like you said, I need to make better sense of it all which I think will help me be a better, more dedicated learner too. While I understand the tremendous importance sharing our learning has, I still like to learn privately a lot too.

    1. Thank you for commenting, Kyle! With the flood of information coming our way, we have a lot to wrap our heads around. I think it’s important to take a step back and learn privately in our own spaces, too.

  10. Great post Lyn. Being a relative newbie to the social medie scene, it is nice to read a more experienced educator’s thoughts about the ups and downs of being connected. I am also a parent of young kids and I can defintely relate to how things change for the better as you accurately describe. Change is hard, no matter the direction we are going.

  11. Lovely post, Lyn. I am whittling away and trying to come up with my own word for the year.

    What resonates with me most is the parenting aspect of your post. Parenting changes everything, that is for sure. I have twins who are 7. I often think just when I get the hang of one developmental stage they are already onto the next. The learning curve is fast and furious! Sometimes it is difficult to keep up. So, letting go of old stuff to make room for the new stuff is always a balancing act. Mistakes are definitely made and should be the first to let go of. Like you said, Dust yourself off and move forward. Thanks, Lyn

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