Monday, January 7, 2008

Purposefully Disconnected

First of all, a very happy 2008 to one and all! May this be the year that real, measureable change occurs in our schools - not just with individuals, but across the board. (Hey, a girl can dream, right?)

My apologies for my lack of Twitters, postings, utterz, and so on. It has not been for a lack of things to say, but rather an experiment, if you will.

As many of you know, this is a fairly tough year for me personally. I have a new prep (which I LOVE), I'm finishing my masters this semester (we hope. Incidentally, my project will be called "French I 2.0: Using the Read/Write Web in the Classroom" or something of that nature. I will be creating a total web-based curriculum for my classroom. Stay tuned.), my father has been sick (and is *knock on wood* cancer-free. Thanks for all your support/encouragement), and so on. This has brought a fairly profound change in my way of thinking.

I decided in early December that - no matter what - I would not take work home. Period. Nothing. No lesson plans, no grading, nothing. This meant that, in order to agree to this, I had to remain focused on the "important" stuff at work. I cut out Twitter, I cut out Bloglines, etc. And here's what I found.

Nothing really changed. I still intigrated technology in my classes, I still read articles on new technology, and I maintained a passion for change in our education system. So why be connected, then? What's the point?

With all that I was able to get done, I did not feel like I accomplished as much as I did when I was connected. While I was more relaxed at home - and had more time for my family - I did not feel like I was fully doing my job. I felt like, in a way, that I was letting my network down. I wondered if they would still be there for me - despite my absence.

I conducted another experiment: I asked a fairly in-depth edtech question of my Twitter network. I had many people respond that they were glad to see me back, but no one answered my question. Here's what I realized: you get from the network what you give. I hadn't been around to answer others' questions, so why should they answer mine? That seems a bit harsh, but I think that's true of every relationship - there has to be a give and take.

I had let my network down; I wasn't there for them. So here is my goal for January. I want to remain connected - I want to be there for my network - but I want to leave my work at work as much as humanly possible. This time, I want to be disconnected at home when possible, but remain connected at work.

Stay tuned for a post on how that worked out. It is important for your family and friends that you are purposefully disconnected, but if we are to function in this new, flat world, we must spend at least some of our time purposefully connected, too.

Technorati Tags:
Twitter, Bloglines, Beyond Podcasting, (dis)connectivity


Carolyn Foote said...

Welcome back....I think your goal of having a balance is an important one.

I think one thing the network adds to my experience is enthusiasm, the joy of sharing something that works, as well as a network of "assistants!"

Hope your new pattern works and hope your spring goes smoothly! Sounds like you have a great deal on your plate!

Anonymous said...

I love that you've picked up on the topic that is tugging at my time and purpose too! I'm not so sure about the need to connect constantly via Twitter though - not everyone is there every day. It's got to be healthy to put our personal and community relations first. Let's not let work or 24/7 online connections take over all our thinking. But lets also stay connected - because as you said, we can be more effective too. Isn't it a dilemma. Lets see how things shape up in 2008.