I just read a blog post by Lisa Dabbs, whom I have recently started following on Twitter (@teachingwithsoul). In her post Breakaway Monday, she challenges all of us to write. Not just to do lists or updated calendars or staff memos: WRITE.
She brings up a good point; as a teacher and a district staff developer, I wrote A LOT. I wrote newsletters, funny notes, reflections for different grad classes, lesson plans, press releases, heck I was even published at one point. As an administrator I find my writing becoming more and more….busy. More busy,than substantive. This is a bummer for me, because I have always found clarity when I can actually sit down and start dumping language on paper. My writing during the school year, and I swear, maybe I just noticed it more last year has turned into reminders, fast replies. How fast can I hit send?
So, I publicly proclaim to return to what I know to be true: writing helps me find clarity.
I have to laugh at a recollection to support this. Some may find totally wacko but we had a lice outbreak at my school in May. Not an epidemic. (Although, that word was tossed around by angst filled family members). We had a Girl Scout troop that went on a weekend camp out, a hockey team that went away to a tournament, various sleepovers etc. that congealed into the perfect storm of creepy crawlers. One of our district policies is to send home a very legal’ish letter explaining to parents how not gross lice are (um, yeah) and how anyone can get them etc. It is dry, on letter head and I have to sign it. You know what? This time, I didn’t want to sign it. My families were upset and wanted to know everything was going to be ok. This letter did not help them. So, I dumped the letter and wrote my own. In fact, I ended up writing three and e-blasting them to all parents and staff, three days in a row. I went to my core and I wrote for them.
I went personal: my kid has had lice. Twice. I was mortified too, but we survived.
I went humorous: I listed the home remedies I have heard of from people. (Seriously, I need to write a book).
I went practical: I listed all the fun ways lice can be transferred from head to head like sharing bike helmets.
I went to the community: If we were going to get rid of this, we all had to work together.
And the responses I got back were 100% positive. Not thrilled with the situation, but still very thankful that I was keeping it real and helping families see that there was light at the end of the tunnel.
What’s the point? Well, writing helped not only me, but my families. I felt better because I felt like I was doing SOMETHING besides combing through hair, and my families felt better because I was showing some empathy.
When do you write for others? When do you write for yourself?