Once your eye and hand are trained to the skills of your craft, then it becomes possible – like driving – to go on autopilot and leave the world behind.
Do what you love.
Do MORE of what you love.
These words are ones teachers hear often or tell themselves as they recalibrate and try to get more balance in their lives. They are certainly words that have appeared many times over the years in this newsletter.
Recently I’ve been questioning the idea that passion for work is what should drive us — that love for our profession is the North Star we follow, and if it’s shining brightly in another direction, we should leave behind a career we may have built over many years for something new.
Cal Newport writes in So Good They Can’t Ignore You about the difference between the passion mindset and the craftsman mindset. His argument is that “working right trumps finding the right work.” We may focus too much on whether or not we feel passion or love for what we’re doing professionally. Newport believes instead that we should focus on what we do well — the hard-won skills honed over years and many hours of practice.
I’ve been an editor (in part-time, freelance, and full-time roles) for over 30 years. When I face a mountain of writing (either physical or virtual) that needs to be edited, I’m not always feeling inspired or joyful about the task before me. I imagine a teacher with a decade (or two or three) of experience might also start to feel like they’ve seen this type of struggling child, that behavior, or this curricular progression too many times. In those situations, there isn’t always a way to keep the experience fresh or the learning new. The work might be hard to love.
But if you shift your focus from passion to craft, there is plenty to celebrate. Consider what you do well, and how you got to the point where you are “unconsciously skilled” as a teacher. Who you are now, confident in your craft, is a lovely echo of all the mentors who generously shared their time and insights with you, the long days and evenings poring over professional texts, the years-long journey through different grades, classrooms, and even schools. When you make the shift in mindset from chasing after passion to honoring and respecting the skills within you, you gain new energy for any work you face.
This week we consider the uses of social media in classrooms. Plus more as always — enjoy!
Founder, Choice Literacy
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Colby Sharp shares step-by-step guidance for linking class blogs, Twitter, and private Facebook pages when sharing with families. Best of all, you can turn over the task to students:
Vicki Davis at Edutopia explains why social media is becoming an essential component of literacy instruction, as well as many tips for using it effectively in classrooms:
There is an art to recommending books to peers, and teachers and students need to work together to perfect it. Shana Frazin breaks down the components of thoughtful book recommendations:
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Ruth Ayres finds storytelling is at the heart of social media, and describes how teachers and students might work together to find a place for social media in classrooms:
National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is coming up in November, and it’s a wonderful opportunity for sustained writing and linking students with writers across the web. Katherine Sokolowski shares how it works, as well as tips for getting started:
If teachers are still using technology as a reward, Bill Bass explains why they are far behind their colleagues in integrating computers and applications into workshops:
This week’s video is the third and final installment on teaching first graders about the attributes of fiction and nonfiction:
In an encore video, Franki Sibberson and her fourth graders talk and write about gender issues in literature as they read blog entries on the web and consider their favorite characters:
That’s all for this week!