A deep breath on a lovely day-of-Erev Tu B’Shevat here in Jacksonville, Florida. Students throughout the school are engaged in different planting projects, seders, and celebrations of this “New Year for the Trees”. And, for whatever reason, this week of the year has become my annual “New Year for the Blog”. It is time, indeed, for my annual Wordle reflection of my blog! [What's a "wordle"? From their website: "Wordle is a toy for generating 'word clouds' from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text.]
(For last year’s, you are welcome to click here.)
One year ago this blog’s Wordle looked like this:
And almost exactly one year later, it looks like this:
Having spent about thirty minutes or so comparing the two Wordle’s side-by-side, and factoring in the occasional random word or favorite idiom, there are indeed a few things that strike me as noteworthy:
- The word that takes on the most prominence in this year’s Wordle is “conversation”. I LOVE that! To the degree that this blog represents my practice, I am very pleased to see “conversation” rise to the top. I do believe that a significant facet to being an effective leader is engaging people in conversations, facilitating collaborations and fostering connectedness. I hope that I am not simply blogging about it, but actually doing it. I’m definitely trying.
- So what might all these “conversations” be about? Well, based on this year’s Wordle it would be “teaching” and “learning”! Those sound like good things for a school to be conversing about, no? But digging deeper, to me it actually reflects the possibility that we have successfully made the philosophical (and semantic) shift from “21st Century Learning” [which has almost disappeared from the Wordle from the prior year] to simply “teaching and learning”. This has, indeed, been a major priority of ours – the complete identification of this thing called “21st century learning” as the core of “teaching and learning” in our school.
- What is not there that surprises and disappoints me? No appearance of “Community of Kindness”! (I have definitely blogged about here, here, here, here, here and here.) Maybe the word “kindness” is filtered out of Wordle’s logarithm, but I do want to honor the possibility that this important initiative has not received the attention it requires to impact our culture to the desired degree. This demands deeper reflection and will receive it.
- New initiatives or ideas that definitely reflect the facts on the ground include “iPads”, “EdCamp” and “target”.
- Specific to this blog, this annual exercise asks me to consider and reconsider a foundational question: Who is my audience?
When I began blogging, I thought my audience would be almost exclusively parents of the Martin J. Gottlieb Day School. Little did I know that through the power of amplification, social networking, the amazing work our teachers and students are doing, and the happenstance of being in the right place at the right time – I am chronically surprised by who reads this blog. I barely have time to cross-post; I do not have time to operate two different blogs. So I try my best to write about topics (and in a style) that would be of primary interest to an ever-growing concentric circle of stakeholders, beginning with my parents and ending at the edge of the educational universe.
Am I succeeding?
I am not entirely sure.
I am sure that this weekly reflective exercise called blogging has made me a better Head of School. I am all in on “reflection leads to achievement“. So on my personal, annual “New Year of the Blog” I am thankful for the opportunity to be transparent. It takes supportive and brave lay leadership and I got it in spades.
Next year’s blogging? I certainly welcome and encourage feedback from readers of this blog. If I am not meeting y’all’s needs, this blogger definitely wants to know!