So this week marks one year since I left my public school job, and I have to say I’m surprised how little I’ve looked back. Partly because I haven’t had much time to, but mostly because this past year on the road has been such a profoundly great experience in general. I’m truly humbled by the opportunity I’ve been given…it doesn’t happen for most, I know.
What follows are just some random thoughts that I wanted to capture about this first year more for myself than anything else.
The good stuff:
- Getting a chance to meet and talk to so many teachers and administrators and others who in general, I think, really do want to understand the changes that are occurring. By far the best part has been the people.
- Expanding my reach…Some very “fuzzy”math suggests that I found myself in front of upwards of 15,000 people last year at around 70 events, and I only got heckled twice! Not too bad.
- Meeting many of my “teachers” along the way.
- Learning a great deal about myself, some of it good, some of it not so good. But I’m understanding some of my limitations…and that’s a good thing.
- Learning a great deal about the realities of education in this country.
- Feeling, at least, like I am starting some important conversations.
The not so good stuff:
- Being away from home. My family has been great about the career change, but my being away does leave a lot of stress on my wife and kids. Thinking of how to deal with that better, (though video Skype has helped.)
- Not having the time to read what’s in my aggregator…probably the biggest change is that I just can’t keep up with all of the bloggers that I used to read, and really, in the last few weeks, I’ve only tracked about 15 feeds on a regular basis.
- Not having the time to blog…if I don’t read, I don’t write. And to be honest, blogging has become more of a burden than a joy of late. I think it’s because a) I’m doing a crappy job of it, b) my brain is really, really tired and just doesn’t want to expend the energy, and c) I’m not reading.
- Not having the time to do a lot of the other writing I wanted to do.
Despite the downsides, on balance, it’s been a very good year in just about every way except just generally being unable to keep up. And so what am I going to do now that I have four solid weeks home? Relax, play with the kids, get ready for a 10K the second week of June, read what I can, blog when I want to and just get rested up for a very full summer and fall. (Australia and Shanghai…here we come…)
One last note…I’ve updated my masthead to reflect the shift in my own thinking about this, that the conversation really has to be about learning first and education second. Not that I’m abandoning the whole classroom aspect of the Read/Write Web. But I just don’t know where this is all going to lead schools. I do, however, know where it can lead in terms of personal learning.
Thanks to all of you who have so generously supported my work this year…
George Siemens says
Hey Will – always nice to read your candid thoughts. Congrats on your first year as a guru :).
Dean Shareski says
You and I have had this debate before but I question the 15 feeds…I’m just learning too much from new voices to stick with 15….but hopefully we can discuss this f2f in Boston in July!
James Farmer says
Congrats on a great first year of spreading the good word far and wide, looking forward to meeting up in Oz.
Maria DeSimone says
Will- I have learned so much from you this past year! Thanks!
Diane Hammond says
Will, please don’t give up on schools! For the foreseeable future we are still going to require that our children spend 5 hours+ there every day. We can’t write off that learning time. Like you, I’m not optimistic about systemic change, (at least not top down), but I am (maybe naively) hopeful about grassroots change. A lot of those teachers who try new technologies and pedagogies, and who can envision new paradigms have been inspired by a speaker such as yourself. So keep connected to your past life in the classroom; it draws in teachers to listen to your message…and who knows where that leads.
Nicole Tomaselli says
You know in every blog post that I read of yours I find something small – with huge significance. In today’s post it’s your comment on “learning first, education second”. In my role as an ITS, it seems like I spend alot of time convincing teachers that it’s ok to investigate and check things out in unprescribed unplanned ways. Reminding them that it’s so much more fun for the students if their teacher is learning along with them… wanting to be a lifelong learner has to come first.
Chris Lehmann says
As always, it’s fun to take the journey with you, my friend! Congrats on your first year… and you always stay in my 15. 🙂
Kobus van Wyk says
I started reading your blog only a few months ago (when I hardly knew what a blog was)and have found it most informative. Many of the issues you discuss are clearly ones that affect you directly in your part of the world, but I have been able to put them in a local context (and sometimes unashamedly used them as themes for postings on my own blog). In Africa we are playing catch-up, and leapfrog, and doing whatever we can to narrow the gap and you may not have any idea how usefull your discussions, quotes, references, etc, have been. Perhaps one of the most wonderful things that I learned from your blog is that, while you are a few lightyears ahead of us in provisioning of equipment is concerned, on opposite sides of the globe (and on oppoisite sides of the digital chasm) we are grappling with the same basic issues of how to let technology make a real difference in teaching and learning. Your insights are most valuable to us; I do hope that your busy schedule will allow you to continue to share some of your experience with us.
Will Richardson says
Thanks all for the kind words. Dean, it’s not that I want to read 15, it’s that I simply don’t have the time or brain power to read more at this moment. Now that I have some time off, I need to catch up. But this has helped me understand the experiences of a lot of teachers who say they just don’t have the time either. See you at BLC!
Terrance O'Neil says
I look forward to your blog every day- one of only a couple that I have the time to read on a regular basis. Like what Nicole Tomaselli said in an earlier comment, I also find “something small- with huge significance” in what and how you express your ideas and suggestions. I also experience the frustrations of resistance to systemic change in education vis-a-vis the role of technology. It’s good to “discuss” these ideas with you and the other commenters. Keeps me focused and pushes me in useful new directions. Have a great summer relaxing and traveling, and know that your audience out here values what you say and how you say.
Rob Darrow says
Everyone needs to take a break to relax, reflect, re-energize and rejuvenate! I often find that doing things with kids (especially your own) helps to do this. I’m celebrating my 17-year-old daughter’s first prom this afternoon and evening after reading up on many blogs! Thanks for all you contribute to so many of us with your thoughts.