Screen Shot 2013-05-08 at 6.14.27 AM“No!!” I said as I watched my finger click “Don’t save.”

I was multitasking–talking, thinking, and typing, laptop balanced on my knee. My finger headed for the wrong square. Microsoft Word gave me the a courtesy reminder.

“Are you SURE you want to push the left-hand button, you absolute idiot, given the fact that you’ve transcribed each conversation, pre-written three articles, and put down all your ideas in this one Word document which you haven’t named or saved all day? ARE YOU QUITE CERTAIN YOU WANT TO DELETE ‘DOCUMENT 1’?”

And yet my finger could not change course. It was a little like watching a horror movie, where I know the killer’s in the closet but can’t warn the hero. Click. Fear washed over my body. The document was gone.

“Why didn’t you write it in Google Docs?” said Helpful Friend. The network isn’t reliable at school, usually frozen while Google “searches for the network.” I’ve been programmed to use other things. But thank you for the tip–maybe next time suggest that I save my docs every four days or so.

I’d have issued the “sucks to be you” look if this had been a student.

I was at EdCamp Boston. That’s what EdCamps do–generate eighty ideas at a time. EdCamps are “unconferences.” People get together and share ideas. They present what they want, they move around, when things interest them, and they fall into a million conversations at once–this is just the type of thing a multitasking-probably ADHD-individual loves. I did my thing–I started a discussion about blogging in the classroom, showed how I use Learnist, Twitter and my blog to engage students, but really what I went to do was steal ideas.  “So, does anyone else out there do this? What do you suggest?” It’s a beautiful thing.

I took all my ideas, and typed them neatly into a million-paged document, entitled “Document 1.”

I met some great educators. I went to my favorite presentation of the day, “How to be a badass teacher” which discussed how to maintain a positive outlook in the face of educational challenges, how to give oneself permission to move on to bigger and better things, and how to take back the climate and culture of a school. The discussion was crammed with innovative teachers in a small space in the Microsoft facilities second floor lounge–teachers sprawled on chairs, carpets, corners… all taking notes. “Document 1” was filling rapidly.

“What do I do? I think differently and every time I come up with an innovation, I get put down,” said one teacher.

“We can’t seem to make any changes at my school,” said another.

“All the teachers at my school are old and cranky. And they hang out in the teacher’s lounge.” Everyone nodded.

“How do we create good mentoring situations so new teachers don’t get assaulted by well-meaning but cranky teachers?”  That question got a great answer. I typed it into Document 1.

“Let’s consider that these teachers have a lot of experience,” person suggested. “Maybe they’ve become tired. Been beaten down by the system. Really want to help you not experience the same thing,” he continued, “How do we get these nuggets of information from these experienced educators? Reinvigorate them? Approach them correctly to recognize their experience?” This was a critical comment for me.  I’ll admit I get frustrated–by the roadblocks–testing, standardization, data, data, data…

It’s important to have these conversations. To laugh. To brainstorm. To connect.

I learned so much. I typed away, I quoted, I reflected, introduced, exchanged business cards, ate a sandwich, made a Learnist board, wrote article outlines.

Then pressed delete.

Time to slow down. Pause. Think. Reflect. Consider. Do…not…delete.

All is not lost. The ideas sunk in. And maybe I shouldn’t have been typing all day in Document 1 anyway. It’s important, sometimes, to savor the experience of creating. “Experiences are everything,” says my good friend constantly.  Like when I used to do a lot of photography and spent more time hiding behind the lens than living. It’s like that.

Slow down. Breathe. Consider. Don’t push the button too fast. You’ll miss the essence of what’s behind it all. Life will pass you by.

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