A Purposeful Reflection

When I changed jobs last August, I thought I would be such a happy little blogger, documenting my new change, all the new challenges, and the daily reflections of returning to the classroom. 

That obviously didn’t happen. I forgot what it was like to move into a new job– all that time it takes to really get into the swing of a new routine and a different schedule. And honestly, I wasn’t sure what I most wanted to post regarding my job change. 

It came down to the fact that I was unclear what my central purpose would be for blogging once my role changed from a teacher of teachers back to a teacher of children. 

That word- PURPOSE– seems to get lost in a lot of what we do on a daily basis. It’s also something I heard over and over today in the sessions at Edubloggercon. Early today, someone in one of the sessions noted that using technology tools is misdirected without a clearly defined purpose. In another session, we questioned the point of having students writing reports. Students need to learn to write with a purpose, and the end result of a report is NOT really a purpose at all.

In yet another session, we talked about learning networks, what and how they should be named- but I kept thinking about purpose again. If I grow my own personal learning network, I’d better have a purpose in mind. How do the people and resources in my network add value to me? What do I want to gain from that network? What do I want to contribute to that network? In the end, does it matter what we name it? It might. But I think the purpose of why I cultivated a learning network is more important than what I call it. 

Purpose. I’m thinking that I need to consider this word more often. I know when I write my lesson plans, purpose is always a consideration. But do I communicate that effectively to my students? I don’t know. When I blog, I need to be more purposeful in each post. Why am I writing the post? Am I considering my audience? What am I really trying to convey to my readers when I post? Or… am I simply using the blog as a reflection tool to help me better organize and understand my own thoughts? 

These are points I’ll need to ponder over the next few weeks.

2 thoughts on “A Purposeful Reflection

  1. Nicole Badgley

    Michelle thanks for writing this reminder of how we would all want to be treated and how we should be reacting and behaving professionally towards our collegues at conferences like this. I find that I can agree with you on everything you said. But as I would do with all of my students in my classroom, I feel like to perpetuate the discussion, I need to take part of the devil’s advocate and see where the discussion leads us.

    As a collective, we, the audience, could all see that the speaker struggled to get his very important message out in a less than stellar manner. (I won’t go into his presentation methods, you covered those very well above.) His material was VERY important to know and to share with the world. Especially since the United States has the potential, intelligence and know-how to do something about these global problems. With that being said … here come the devil’s advocate side…

    If you were bringing someone to a conference to talk to 15,000 educators who could help mold the generation of students who could do something about these global problems, wouldn’t you want the speaker to talk directly to the teachers and school leaders and given them suggestions of how to change their classrooms right now?

    Wouldn’t you want your message to be how to change the way we work with the young people of our country to motivate them to change their future world?

    There was a lot of data in his speech, but I can read that data from the powerpoint slides myself, on various Internet sites, and I can watch the global news to get this information. I think his intentions were good to “wake us up” and encourage us to work toward solving these problems, but he could have gone the road of being a story teller, much the way the evening news does, the way people who have lived through these problems do when they come forward to raise awareness.

    There were times during his speech when he mentioned specific people and famous attempts to solve these problems, and when he did it in a story/anecdote format the audience was more engaged. You said above that he should have known his audience and he should have prepared for those people when he considered what his speech was going to include. If I (as the presenter) knew I was going to talk to that many classroom leaders, and that the information I was going to convey could make it back to 1,000s of classrooms this fall, I would have taken a long hard look on exactly what I wanted those teachers to do with my info. I would have started my speech with that.

    We teach our students for the Nebraska state writing assessment to take a problem (usually one in our school but this might be a better topic) and BRIEFLY describe the situation and how we got there. The bulk of the rest of the essay should include possible solutions to that problem. In the end of the essay, the writer then chooses the best solution (in their opinion) and calls the reader to action to solve that problem. This is just basic structure of problem solution writing and speeches.

    Now I am not saying that I am expert in giving speeches, nor am I an expert in global problems, and I am certainly not an expert in essay or speech writing. What I am saying is that preparation for your audience as to be mission critical or you lose your audience. You would never have a long speech for young elementary students, you would never use jargon and vocabulary that is college level for junior students, you would never give a speech without pictures to high school students who could find alternate ways to entertain themselves if they weren’t motivated and stimulated, and you should never give a presentation to teachers that is such a downer at the beginning of the conference and then send them out of the door thinking that things are futile and frustrating. He should have sent out is into the conference ready to attack even the biggest problems by starting with what we can change in our home states, school districts and families.

    By the way, you posted the day before about using blogs to clarify your thinking, and needed to concentrate on purpose… I think you just helped me focus on own thought process and what I thought about the keynote as well. I too have changed my initial reaction even if it isn’t directly related to solving global problems. Thank you.

    More time in the student essays, and in the keynote speech, should be spent on the solution rather than on the gory details and depressing facts that we as adults are well aware of. I think he missed a golden opportunity…

  2. Totally agree with you, Nicole. Thanks for your passionate response. 🙂

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