What I Learned on my Summer Vacation

This is my version of the traditional back-to-school writingThe Harbour assignment. It’s been a busy summer and one in which I’ve learned more than any summer before. I didn’t exactly  finish my original official plan for learning this summer, but I did complete much of the original list when life slowed enough to indulge in self-directed professional development. Here’s what I learned this summer:


1. Favourite Summer Reading: A Whole New Mind

Every art teacher (okay, actually all teachers, but art teachers especially) should read A Whole New Mind by Daniel Pink. The book outlines the six aptitudes Pink believes will give people the advantage for achieving success today and in years to come. He writes about the following six “right-brained” qualities:

  • Design
  • Story
  • Symphony
  • Empathy
  • Play
  • Meaning

As an art teacher, it’s great to see importance being attached to the kind of learning often emphasized in an art room. The book is full of links and further reading should you wish to develop your ‘right-brained’ thinking. I highly recommend you read it!

2. Twitter

Wow. I don’t even really know how to articulate how much I’ve learned and how much my thinking has changed since signing up at the end of June. My tweeted quote that “my professional mindset has been blasted wide open” by Twitter is my way of explaining it for today. Put another way, when I first started, I felt as if I’d just walked into a party that I didn’t even know was going on and some of the most intelligent, most inspiring educators in the world were already there. It is THE place to be if you want to have an personal learning network (PLN) composed of educators around the world.

Freighter Side SilhouetteFor those who’ve missed the boat or are not yet at the party, Twitter is a free social networking and microblogging site. It’s all founded on the idea of answering the simple question “What are you doing right now?”  One tidbit I think worth mentioning is that Twitter was created by the same guy that created Blogger, Evan Williams.  I wonder what he was like to teach…

A great explanation of the benefits of Twitter for teachers was written in a post today by Paula White. Her third paragraph sums up Twitter perfectly!

3. Blogging

What I didn’t learn from reading books or on Twitter, I learned from blogging. I spent a great deal of time reading others’ blogs and commenting several times a week. I also managed to post four times (including this post) over the summer. I found it was easier to read and comment on others’ posts than to write my own. Sneaking in 15 minutes with my Google Reader was easy – spending an hour or two tweaking a post was not easy.

My big Web 2.0 realization came about as a result of blogging. I realized that the concept of writing has completely changed. Before (and still for some) publishing meant that a finished piece of writing was made into a final product, such as a book. Now a published work can be like a living document, ever-changing and shifting and evolving as thoughts do with time. I’d read this concept before, but I didn’t really conceptualize it inside my thinking until this summer. It’s a shift that really does change the way I see the world.

Clouds plus Silhouette

I hope everyone had a wonderful summer filled with great memories and profound learning. For those of you starting soon, all the best with back to school…

All imagery by me.

3 thoughts on “What I Learned on my Summer Vacation

  1. Hi Errin,

    It sounds like you’ve had a great summer in professional terms! I also really enjoyed ‘A Whole New Mind’–Daniel Pink has a good thesis and a wonderful writing style.

    “I found it was easier to read and comment on others’ posts than to write my own.” I’m glad I’m not the only one who experiences this! I’m sure there are people out there who can just quickly write out a post, I wonder if they know that they have an enviable skill? I have to remind myself that I don’t have to make a totally airtight argument when I write a post. It is often my shorter posts that pose questions that result in more conversation.

    Enjoy these last few days of summer, and all the best in the new school year!

  2. Hey Errin!

    I loved your post, and it is such a great idea to reflect on your summer while possibly introducing new resources to your readers. I loved your twitter summary: my professional mindset has been blasted wide open.

    Monday begins our third week of school! Enjoy your last bit:)

  3. Hello ladies! Thanks for the comments!
    @Claire – I do find it difficult to write something I’m really happy with, good to know there are others that feel the same way! I blame it on a 4th yr English course in rhetoric @ SFU that will forever make me overthink the meaning of my words.

    @Lisa – Hey! I can’t believe that the summer is over, but I’m happy that, in retrospect, I managed to make it a productive time for professional learning. There certainly won’t be enough time for that once school starts!

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