First things first, why a challenge? I like challenge, and need it. It’s good to do something self-directed on a creative, reflective or practical level, and which potentially combines all three. A couple of examples from recent weeks include redesigning our digital signage, and completing a film editing assignment. The #postaday project was designed to expand my experience of writing.
Here are Five Things I Learnt From My #Postaday Challenge.
Writing: I really enjoy writing and have noticed this year how writing on personal topics such as photography and travel takes far less time to put together than professionally focused posts. In both cases however, writing is a little bit like photography. The more you get into it, the more you begin to see and want to photograph. In professional daily life, various concepts or observations pop up as things I would like to write about. I’ve found that this means you end up with an on-going selection of posts on the back burner for consideration. Carrying a journal with you is great for jotting these down [I’m a tech advocate, however, the action of writing something down, sketching, or annotating , is quite different from recording ideas digitally].
Writing takes time, even when you have quite a few ideas pre-drafted. Frequently, when it comes to writing the final version, you adjust your thinking. Some posts demand more energy than others to get to the core of what you want to convey.
Scale up on your timeframe: be aware that you may need more time than you originally allocated, to get the post to the point you are happy with it.
Collaborative Opportunities: It’s really great to be able to talk about what you are writing with other people. I’ve found a few wonderful colleagues and asked them to read through my drafts. In writing, you are relaying your experience of things, and it’s really helpful to understand how this ‘reads’ when read by someone else. It’s preferable to choose proof readers with different roles and interests as this broadens the potential of critical friend feedback.
Another upside is that this creates opportunities for reciprocal arrangements, I read and edited some colleagues work in exchange for their kind help with mine. This in turn, develops conversations about the fields they are interested in or working on.
Connected Media: Relating relevant media to blog posts also adds to the time factor. However, visuals do add to a post. Make sure any images used connect well with context and tie in other professional/social media profiles with your blog content, e.g.
- images of tweets
- case samples connected to the post topic
- hyperlinks to colleagues, topics or reading mentioned.
Review Deadlines: Remember to switch off!
Writing can be really exciting, and generate ‘I’ve started so I’ll finish’ perseverance! It can take many more hours than you scheduled for it, but it’s really important to remember to step away and come back to your writing with fresh eyes.
During #postaday, this proved interesting. Publishing the Monday and Tuesday posts went to plan before several factors came on board that I hadn’t fully anticipated! Flu hit, we hosted a program for our visiting professor, as well as a parent consultation evening on top of a regular school schedule. When you are very tired or not well, even though you have set yourself a deadline and keep pushing ahead, sometimes, you need to stop, and re-prioritize.
The original plan was five posts on five days. I realised on Wednesday I wasn’t going to make the Thursday deadline, it just wasn’t possible for me to meet my self-set target, despite having tagged my #postaday challenge publically.
On Wednesday, I prioritized sleep, over continuing to edit that evening! Reviewing deadlines with a fully realistic eye, I chose to adjust deadlines to publish the 5 posts as intended, but not on consecutive days.
Evaluate: Make sure you review your challenge. Think about why a new challenge was important to you, and reflect on what you learnt from it. For me, it was that I continue to set myself new goals. Most importantly it helped me to conceptualise and reframe my thinking around certain topics. The challenge helped me to make new connections and engage in professional dialogue with colleagues around the world.
I have found that once posts are written, they become a natural source to share with others. They tie into your own professional practice, for example:
- DQ – Developing Next Generation Digital Skill Sets was used in lessons with students and colleagues to explore their understanding of the 8 areas of Digital Intelligence.
- Pass The Comics Please – An Underrated Genre was used in lessons to share images of previous years comic projects.
- I shared tweets and professional examples of curriculum leaders using thinking strategies with students in Year 5 & 6, see Learning Strategies – Are We Walking Our Talk?
- Film in Education – Re-purposing Media with Students was shared with my lecturers and fellow students at @UCLondon and @IOE_London, to demonstrate the process of creating opportunities for film in education.
Finally, explore analytic tools to gauge a sense of where and by which groups your posts are being read. Use tools like a headline analysers, or adapt headlines for different social media. During #postaday, I stayed with the same headlines for WordPress, Twitter and LinkedIn as my focus was on getting posts out simultaneously. It’s good to look at tweaking those to better gauge the kinds of language used by different online communities.
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For the complete list of all 5 #postadays, please visit #Postaday Week.