When I started on this writing journey seven years ago, there were a couple of things I knew for sure.
- I wanted to share experiences through writing.
- Something different was happening in my classroom.
- There was so much about learning that I had yet to learn.
I started blogging because I had been reading blogs. I was sharing articles and posts online. I was following educators, professors, coaches, historians, scientists, and journalists who had all taken time to share their insights and thoughts online. I was appreciative of all the work I was reading, but I was also inspired.
My driving question was: “How can we learn better?”
I believed that learning was something we could get better at, but only if we were given the chance to own the learning process. My hypothesis was that if you were allowed to “Scratch Your Itch” and learn what you were curious and passionate about, then creative work would follow.
I had seen this in my own life, and from the people I learned so much from online. But, could it translate into traditional learning experiences?
So I wrote, and I shared, and for a while, nothing happened that the outside world could see. But, I was learning. I was now reading with a purpose. I was researching with motivation. I was diving deep into topics to try and share an understanding with the world.
I began writing 250 words every day. As a teacher, this was cathartic. Reflecting on our experiences can be therapy but also exciting. It puts perspective on a job that is lived minute-by-minute.
I started taking risks with my students and eventually shared about The 20% Project (like Google) in My Class. It was the first blog post I’d ever written that was read by more than 100 people. In fact, it went viral with over 150 comments and thousands of readers in just a few days.
I couldn’t wait to learn, experience, and share more.
Since that post, I’ve published 373 more articles on this website, written eight books, released two online courses, started two podcasts (Classroom Questions and Inside Innovation), and failed many, many times (and learned throughout it all).
Our community here has grown to over 65,000 email subscribers. We’ve engaged in comments, online groups, courses, and many of us in person over the past seven years. Forty-seven teachers from our tribe were featured The PBL Playbook showcasing the innovative work happening in your learning spaces with kids from around the world.
I’ve changed roles from an ELA teacher to an instructional coach, and then from a Curriculum and Tech specialist to now a Director of Learning and Innovation. I teach at The University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education with PLN. I’ve been able to share my passion for better learning and teaching by speaking with thousands of educators around the country and world.
This mission has not changed over these past seven years. But, the work has.
Now, I’m listening to more podcasts, reading more books, and watching more videos than ever before.
I’m appreciative of what I’m listening, reading, and watching–but I’m also inspired.
I believe we can all learn better by scratching our itch. I’ve also always wanted to demonstrate that with our community.
So, here are some ways I’m scratching my itch, to further the purpose and mission of this work focused on how we can learn better:
- My new podcast, aptly titled, Scratch Your Itch, will be released next week. I’m interviewing experts from around the world on habits, the science of learning, growth mindset, and many other areas that contribute to the ethos of scratching your own itch. Each of the guests on the show brings a unique perspective on what it means to own your learning and create with purpose. First up on the podcast is an interview with the author of Atomic Habits, James Clear. Have someone who might be good to interview? Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
- I’m working on a new video series that will be coming out over the next three months (the first video should be out this week). The series dives into How We Can Learn Better by shifting our perspective with some practical strategies.
- Time and time again the forecast of skills our kids will need to have show design thinking at the heart of what we should be doing. It is one of the main reasons John Spencer and I wrote LAUNCH. John and I both have young kids at home, and we are taking the month of November (Nanowrimo) to write a kid’s book. The story (set in space) will have a cast of character that solves problems going through the design process, but it will be much more than that. The book will also have multiple design challenges/projects that teachers can do with their class. We can’t wait to share more about this project through November.
- I’m busy working on a new course. The focus of the course is how can we go From Theory to Practice. How can we take the best research on neuroscience, growth mindset, and learning–and turn them into practical instructional strategies that work?
- Finally, one of the long-term projects I’m most excited about is PBLK12. Our team is designing a K-12 PBL Curriculum that is not prescriptive but instead gives teachers and students choice, ownership, and flexibility in their learning experience. Yes, the project-based experiences connect to standards, competencies, and skills–however, we are spending a lot of time making sure there is no script, but instead a roadmap full of learning possibilities.
Here’s to scratching your itch and sharing the journey! I’ll continue to keep scratching, because you never know what’ll happen once the itch starts!