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Sharing “Pinch Me” Moments

It’s been less than a day since I left beautiful Portsmouth, NH. The first meeting of the second cohort of Heinemann Fellows may have come to an end, but I think I speak for all the fellows when I say that this experience has been one of the best professional development experiences I’ve ever had—and it’s only just beginning. I left feeling energized, a little overwhelmed (in a good way) and very encouraged, inspired by colleagues I just met for the first time —and yet I already feel like I share a special kind of kinship with them. 

I mean, look at some of us!

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As I sat in Logan airport yesterday, waiting to board my flight back to Philly, I knew I wanted to hold on to the experiences of the last few days, and to do that, I knew I had to write about them. I also knew that I needed to share these experiences, too.

Over the last few years, I’ve realized that while writing for myself—in my notebook, on a private Google Doc—has its value, it’s when I’ve pushed myself to make my thinking public and transparent that I’ve stretched my thinking and grown as an educator. George Couros has written here, here, here, and many more times about the power that blogging has had on his own professional life. Among his observations:

Blogging for me has been hugely beneficial for my learning, because of the power to not only think of an audience (making me think deeper about what I write), but also about connecting with the audience.

Personally, I realized that the time I take to sit down and reflect on what I do, what I read, or what I observe has really helped my own path as an educator and an administrator.  Sometimes, for my own clarification, I go back and read my own blog to look at what I have done and how I can continuously work on it to improve. This transparent way of learning is something that I believe can not only improve the teaching profession as a whole (for example, take a look at the conversation on this Pernille Ripp post from today), but is something that could really improve learning for our students.

Show-Your-Work-Austin-KleonWriting publicly forces me to experience the kind of accountability and more importantly, the sense of community that can happen when we share our writing with others. It’s what we ask our students to do, after all, and it’s why for more than seven or eight years now, I’ve also had my students blog with one another, too. Connecting with an audience changes everything. (My other favorite thinker on this idea of sharing with the world is Austin Kleon, particularly in Show Your Work!)

I try to blog as much as I can, and though there are times I write a lot, each time I write is still hard, sometimes painful, work. And as I sat among strangers at Gate B10 yesterday, writing was nearly impossible to do. So I put my laptop away, reached for my iPhone, and opened up my Twitter app.

Whenever I’m struggling to write, I find that lists have helped me focus. So as I boarded the plane, settled into my seat, I began Tweeting out a list of my top ten “pinch me” moments from this first Heinemann Fellows experience (I may have continued to Tweet a few minutes after the captain instructed us to put our phones away, but I learned this weekend that a little civil disobedience is sometimes necessary).

I’m planning to write more extensively about my experience in the upcoming days—and much more thoughtfully than 140 characters will allow—but for now, here we go.


There are so many, many more moments that I left out and that I will need to write about, like this one:


But for now, I think the whole experience can be summed up in this Tweet from yesterday morning as we walked around Heinemann headquarters and learned about its rich history:


And to any of my new #HFellows who may read this—I feel so fortunate to be on this journey with each of you. “See you” online. 🙂

Thanks for reading — feel free to share your thoughts below.

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