Writing Goals 2020/2021

This post isn’t really thought leadership or education reflection. Let’s call it a check-in, accountability, and progress update on a goal. Last year, I set out to explore what it would be like to spend some more time writing. This wasn’t a SMART goal and I didn’t put steps in place or milestones along the way. I had found writing to be both cathartic and reflective and wanted to improve. I didn’t realize it at the time, but it also became a great way to organize my thoughts, practice communication skills, and highlight the amazing work I see each day with education leaders. I had three unofficial writing goals for the year.

1. Write regularly: Publish a new post per day for 30 days, no misses.

This goal was to stretch my creative ability to sit down and process the events of the day, combine it with a few nuggets I may have encountered, and put some pressure to regularly create something new. The initial goal was 30 days in a row of blog posts which I ended up continuing for 64 days. That wasn’t a magic number, I just felt like I now knew that I could sit down every night and come up with SOMETHING. The truth of the matter is that I actually wrote about 100 posts in that time, but many that needed to stay hidden were unfinished, unpolished, or unprofessional!

2. Write more broadly and take more chances: Begin writing content that I could submit to various publications.

I’ve often read posts on sites like EdTech, Education Week, and Edutopia with the thought process that those were written by “writers”. They were mythical beings who had a gift or went to school for writing, but then happened upon education and settled in. In all honesty, sometimes that is true but many of the folks whose writing you see are educators and leaders who are submitting pieces as guests to the publication.

The biggest difference between us and them is that they regularly submit articles and pitches to education publications, and we don’t. So I became a “them”. Because of my role, I’m in a unique position to be able to publish in EdTech Magazine, but rather than waiting for folks to ask, I started pitching them ideas. But that would be like cheating my way through the goal, so I set my sights on other outlets. I created a list of publications I wanted to target, read a LOT of articles on each, studied their submission guidelines, and started writing.

Some ideas were easy to write about, others a struggle. Some publications accepted the first piece I sent them, others took quite a while. This goal is still in progress and I’ve got a few sites and publications in my crosshairs. One piece of advice I would give folks who want to wander down this path is to just start writing and submitting. It took SIX rejections before I got a piece accepted into Edutopia and I didn’t start submitting to them right away- I worked up to it. And those were six submissions that I thought had a great chance and eventually ended up on another site, as a guest post on someone else’s blog, or here on my own site. That’s also what I would say is the progression of where my work ends up: more formal submission to a well-known publication > guest post on someone’s blog > my own blog > hidden in my drafts somewhere.

Here’s my progress so far… and there are still plenty of places I’ve gotten rejections from that aren’t on this list yet (I see you, EdSurge).

EdTech Magazine (this one is built into my current gig, so it’s a little different)

Edutopia (SIX rejections)

Tech and Learning (THREE rejections)

District Administration Magazine (this one is pre-goal during my district time, but also TWO rejections)

Teach Better (while working on another piece of content was introduced to this team)

eSchool News (ONE rejection)

3. Write to uplift voices. Collaborate and highlight the work of great education leaders.

This is pretty straight-forward: I work with amazing leaders in different districts around the country all the time. A large majority of the people that I work with are incredible educators, coaches, and leaders. I wanted to showcase their work, and also collaborate and help folks who wanted to get some content out there, but didn’t know how to navigate the landscape (I’m also still learning this one).

My three favorite examples of co-authorship and a shared writing process are the article on voice assistants in education with Julie Daniel Davis, the piece about creativity in the classroom with Mike Cicchetti, and the post about interoperability with Susan Bearden. My favorite piece where I got to highlight incredible leaders and their work is now live in Tech and Learning.

What started out as a writing goal morphed a bit when I took the opportunity to stretch myself creatively in the form of a web series and podcast. To continue shining as much light on amazing folks as possible, I started a web series and podcast, but that’s a story for another day…