Blogging 2.0 – taking the leap!

After wrestling with blogging for nearly a year I finally took the leap in the summer of 2016, when so much interest among fellow educators throughout our district and state wanted to hear my connectivity journey through Twitter. I finally decided I wanted to blog about a story I had verbally told countless times. Already an ASCD member (www.ascd.org and @ASCD) I took the next step of blogging on their ASCD Edge blog post platform – one that several friends in education, notably Dr. Steven Weber (@curriculumblog) and Mr. Kyle Hamstra (@KyleHamstra) had utilized for some time, and encouraged me to utilize.

After that first post,  The Power of Twitter, being and connected educator and the PLN on my career, I started to blog here and there once a month or so, often after being encouraged by others in my PLN, but always on the same platform. I was enjoying the occasional blog post on ASCD Edge, but was remaining stagnate in terms of my overall growth as a learner and educator in this domain. I needed a change but didn’t truly realize it.

Fast forward to last this past week. I’m blessed to work in the Wake County Public School System (WCPSS) the largest school district in North Carolina and very progressive in terms of new concepts, ideas and innovative thinking within education. Every fall and spring, WCPSS holds a Convergence Symposium at the McKimmon Center at NC State University. This is a conference event held over two days with an opening and closing keynote address. The keynotes often hold a few sessions as well. Think smaller level of NCties on the state level or ISTE on the national level regarding what this conference is like. Edu tech and media services are the primary targets so every tech facilitator both school and district based is invited along with media. Additionally classroom teachers, administrators and other stakeholders in our district are often invited along with a handful of out of district guests in education. For the past two years, I’ve been fortunate to attend and also present at both fall and spring editions of the WCPSS Convergence Symposium. 15220046_10154486311260804_4758858825984773281_n

This year, I was excited to present in three sessions with some of my biggest edu heroes in our district: Mrs. Melanie Farrell (@MelanieCFarrell), the above mentioned Mr. Kyle Hamstra (@KyleHamstra), Dr. Sandy Chambers (@DrSandyChambers), Mr. Michael Parker West (@mikeaustinwest), Mrs. Renee White (@RaRaPenguin) and Mr. Phil Echols (@PhilEchols) all of these wonderful educators in our district are vital to my PLN and certainly recommend following on Twitter if you aren’t already.

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Going into this year’s Convergence, aside from presenting material on a large level, I was most excited about day 2 out of the gate. This was the day one of my biggest heroes in education was presenting, George Couros. (http://georgecouros.ca/blog/ and @gcouros) While George was presenting three sessions Wednesday, I knew I would only be able to attend his final presentation since his first two conflicted with sessions I was presenting in. However, his final presentation before his closing keynote address was one I couldn’t wait to hear. Blogging. Yes, I knew, thought didn’t verbally admit it, I was stalling in my blogging movement and desperately  needed to hear Couros’ message considering he’s quite the edu blogger. Did. He. Ever. Deliver. A few days later, I’ve created a WordPress account, upgraded to a personal account, and have shifted from being isolated to having my own blog and domain. Yes, Couros’ session sparked all of that (along with powerful lunch conversations with many of the above mentioned plus post conference discussions all about blogging next steps.)

This is where it all began. In a packed room at WCPSS Convergence. Wednesday afternoon, Nov. 30, 2016 Throughout George Couros’ presentation on blogging my head could barely contain it all. I had moved past the fact that despite being a life long Alberta resident, Couros was far more into NFL and NBA than the NHL, hence our limited conversation about hockey, which was a bit of a downer, though I digress. So much information was being tossed around though in that 45 minute, information and energy packed session, I knew it wasn’t a question of if I was going to take my blogging to the next level but when. After his session had concluded and we chatted about the day so far over lunch with a group of 30 or so connected educators from our district and beyond over Amedeo’s down the street https://twitter.com/edtechtom/status/804017450962583553 blogging took center stage of the conversation for nearly all of us present.

By the time George Couros started his closing keynote address Wednesday afternoon, I knew I was ready to “blog 2.0” as I began to refer to this “next step” in my blogging adventure.

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His closing keynote was so strong, so empowering, I knew that my inevitable when with blogging 2.0 was coming even sooner.

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In short, while my 2016 WCPSS Fall Convergence Symposium experience was one of the highlights of my career in education thus far because of the lasting impact of George Couros’ words, message and our conversations I would be neglecting the power of my PLN both in our district and beyond if I didn’t mention their lasting vital impact. Not only the above mentioned co-presenters but also “my tribe” pictured below and all by folks I’ve connected with through EdCamps around the state, district level meetings, Twitter, Voxer, etc. Your impact on my career has been and continues to be invaluable.

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In the words of another one of my true educational heroes, Angela Maiers (@AngelaMaiers) #YouMatter. (Which coincidentally is a central theme in one of our presentations at Convergence and will be presented again at the 2017 NCties Conference in Raleigh.)

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Here is to my wonderful PLN, George Couros, Angela Maiers and so many who have contributed in my ongoing effort to #BecomeBetter and make the leap from entry level blogging to “2.o” I truly appreciate all of you more than you’ll ever realize.

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10 thoughts on “Blogging 2.0 – taking the leap!

  1. Bill Ferriter says:

    Hey Pal,

    First, a reaction to your content: One of the things you talk passionately about is the impact that your PLN has had on your own development. I think we’ve all had that experience. What makes social spaces so important is that they give us the chance to connect to and learn from people that we wouldn’t otherwise be able to connect to and learn from. That is SO important, right? It serves as validation of the work we are doing and helps us to feel less alone.

    That’s one of the reasons that blogging is so important to me. I see it as a way of giving back to the people who have given so much to me. I don’t want to just take from the Stream — I think it’s my job to contribute to it as well as a way of giving back to the people who I appreciate and learn from.

    Now, a few blogging tips:

    1). Don’t forget to create categories that are connected to the evaluation standards that you are held accountable for! That’s how you move your blog from a blog to a digital portfolio. And starting with your first posts is WAY easier. I literally have 1,000 posts and none of them are sorted by evaluation standard. If I want to turn my blog into a digital portfolio, I’ve got to go back and reread/recategorize all of those posts. Not sure if you are evaluated like a teacher or not, but if so, here’s a link to our teaching standards:

    http://www.ncpublicschools.org/docs/effectiveness-model/ncees/standards/prof-teach-standards.pdf

    2). Remember that not every blog post has to be a long one! I can tell that you spent a ton of time writing this bit — and in some ways, that worries me! If it takes too long to write because you are creating long posts every time, you might not be able to consistently blog over the long term because you are going to struggle to find the time to sit down and write. Think about setting a timer on your writing and shooting for 20-30 minutes at a clip. Over time, that will teach you the length of a good post — and by “good post,” I mean a post that you can actually fit into your regular daily routine.

    I’m less concerned about the length of a blogger’s posts than I am with whether or not a blogger writes consistently. It’s the frequent reflection that makes you a better thinker — so whatever length is doable given the demands of both your job and your life is the best length for posts!

    Lemme know if you have any questions about this stuff. I’m always willling to help.

    Rock on,
    Bill

    Liked by 2 people

    • BrendanFetters says:

      Thank you for the awesome feedback, Bill! I truly appreciate your insight and will be reaching out to you soon undoubtedly for assistance! This one took almost an hour all told and that won’t sustain over the long haul for sure. I truly value you. Thank you for reading.

      Like

  2. Kyle Hamstra says:

    Brendan, it has been quite a ride in our PLN’s journey, hasn’t it? We are blessed to have so many resources and learning tools right at our fingertips. Most importantly, we are all lucky to have each other. Keep taking risks, learning, and growing. Looking forward to your future reflections.

    Like

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