Sunday, January 19, 2014

Thanks to the #nerdlution Community!

So, #nerdlution began in November.  A group of us started chatting about goals and I decided I'd try to do something (or 3 things) daily for 50 days. The 50 days was random but it sounded rational.  I was amazing for 20 days. I ate an apple every day, I ran or walked for 20 minutes each day, and I wrote for 30 minutes each day.  This was all in crazy December so I tried to fit lots in before work.  I figured the 2 week break at the holidays would make #nerdlution easy! But that's not what happened.  First I got a huge canker sore from the apples, then my husband got sick with the flu, the the puppy stopped sleeping through the night and so I took a few days' break from my #nerdlution goals.  And I never got back to them......20 days and then I pretty much quit. It's kind of how 2013 went for me overall and it is what it is.

But I consider #nerdlution a success and the 50 day challenge has made me think about communities we create in our classrooms in new ways.  I've realized that I've learned and grown a ton by sitting on the sidelines these last few weeks.  That even though I wasn't meeting my personal goal, I still felt part of the #nerdlution community. No one kicked me out of the community, even when I wasn't doing my part. There is something important about that.  It reminds me of workshop, where everyone in the room learns from others' goals and the progress others are making.  And that you are part of that community whether you are participating or sitting on the sidelines watching.  

I am amazed by how much I learned by sitting on the sidelines:

-I didn't choose a goal for commenting on blogs but when I watched Kevin comment for 50 days on 50 different blogs, I decided I needed to visit new blogs and to be a better commenter. I almost NEVER comment on blogs and I typically visit the same blogs each week.  I didn't set a goal and didn't do anything consistently but being part of Kevin's #nerdution helped me change a few of my blog reading habits...just a little.  I am finding new blogs and also commenting a tiny bit more because of watching Kevin meet his #nerdlution goal.

-I didn't choose Random Acts of Kindness but Patrick did and when I'd read his daily posts, I realized how much I'd been caught up in getting stuff done instead of doing kind things for others. Even though I didn't choose this as a goal, listening in on Patrick's #nerdlution progress helped me to take a breath and be a little kinder during the hectic holiday season. And just by being kinder, I slowed down and enjoyed the days better than the days that I spend rushing around and I still got as much done.

-I didn't choose to read for pleasure, but Clare did and I realized that one of these days, I wanted to give myself a round of #nerdlution that was just for me. An excuse to do the one thing I love to do but don't always make time for.  I was jealous of Clare's nerdlution each time I was eating an apple. Not in a bad way, but in a way that let me know it is something I want to do in the future. Although I read a lot, giving myself to read for pleasure for an hour every day seems like a goal I'll have someday soon.

-I saw the power of cheerleaders like Kevin and Bonnie.  These two, along with others, seemed to somehow cheer everyone on. It would make a difference and I realized again how much you need some cheering when things get tough.

-I loved that Betsy chose a #nerdlution she was already passionate about and made it a daily thing.  It seemed like a real treat for her to try a #chalkabration each day.  Seeing her daily chalkabration helped me bring more of this into my classroom when it felt right--rather than waiting for an official #chalkabration day.

-I loved how Mary Lee tweaked her #nerdlution to be 5 days a week and wondered why I hadn't thought of that! Even though I was part of the group that invented #nerdlution, I never thought to give myself permission to revise it to make it work for me. 

-I appreciated tweets from others who had missed some days or those who couldn't find time to fit in their #nerdlution over the holidays. The honesty of how things were going helped me think about the goals I was setting and whether they were really realistic.

-Because of #nerdlution, I jumped into things that I never would have.  I picked a OLW for 2014 because I saw the power of a long-term focus and saw the connection to what I was trying to do with #nerdlution.

So, I learned a lot from the #nerdlution sidelines.  Even though I didn't meet my #nerdlution challenge, the #nerdlution community taught me what was possible. And even though my goals were focused on fitness and writing, I grew in other areas too, because I felt part of everyone's goals.  

I also learned about goal setting and what makes sense for me. Even though I didn't meet my #nerdlution goal, my habits have changed a little and I've learned how to set a better goal for Round 2 of #nerdlution.  I've learned that I can't commit to anything for 7 days a week (and that's okay).  I've learned that goals that are overambitious don't actually work for me (took me 50 years to figure that out...) I've learned that 5:00 am isn't such a bad time to be awake and there is something wonderful about spending the first hour of the day reading, writing or walking.  I've learned that cheering others on, actually changes me too.  I've learned what is possible in terms of goal setting. I loved the variety of goals people had and I loved the way the goals impacted others.

#Nerdlution didn't turn out the way I had hoped it would. I did not even come close to meeting my goals.  But sitting on the sidelines for the last 30 days and watching others in this community have had a huge impact on the way I live my life.  

And, I can't help but think of the reading and writing communities in our classrooms. Those kids who seem to be sitting on the sidelines, are learning from being part of the community --learning what's possible. Sometimes it might be enough for them

So, as I go into #nerdlution Round 2, I've discovered that goal setting is a process and I meet some goals and I don't meet others. But I learn things we didn't expect along the way, thanks to community. These were things I have always known but things that became so clear to me during these last 50 days.  

Congratulations to everyone on this first round of #nerdlution and thanks for letting me learn from all of you!


  1. I think the message for all of us is that meeting the goal exactly as we set it may not be the only way to learn…. we may need to be open to all the possiblilities of learning that may come from setting a goal. Hmmmm --you have me thinking! Thanks - pleasure reading was fun!

    1. Yes! " open to all the possiblilities of learning that may come from setting a goal."

      I'm also wondering about our action steps. Most of us chose, very clear concrete actions. We didn't say for example, "I'm going to become a better reader of fiction." Instead we said things like, "I'm going to read 50 minutes of fiction each day."


  2. Franki,
    Thanks for sharing all you have learned from the challenge. I didn't meet my goal either, but I learned things from others and about myself.

    At the heart of this are powerful messages about community.


    1. ...and ownership (yes, still thinking about your post)

  3. Franki, Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Learning from the sidelines is such a great way of documenting your progress. I feel like I was sitting next to you on the sidelines. I love that you validate that and recognize the learning that happened there, too. I learned a lot too. I had been feeling like a failure, until I read and reflected on your post. I learned...not the way I planned...but I did learn. THANK YOU! #Nerdlution we come!

  4. Franki, I have been thinking a lot about those kids in my classroom (and my family) who sit quietly on the sidelines. Are they listening and thinking about the happenings around them? Are they processing the information? Should I encourage them to be actively involved? I have struggled with this for several years and each day I learn more about the power if quiet (yes this is on my TBR tower, thanks Mary Lee).
    Your post goes right along with what I need to remember, we can learn quietly and being as active members of the community can look different for different people. (I feel a post coming on).
    Thanks Franki for sharing your perspective and opening my eyes a bit wider.

    1. "TBR tower" -- HA! I have a couple of those, including a virtual one in Kindle.

  5. Thanks for a very thought-provoking post! The process of achieving a goal is, in itself, life changing! Whether we do it for 30 days or whether it sticks, setting a goal clarifies vision. I really love how you apply your own growth as an adult to ways you can help your students grow and incorporate valuable life skills into your classroom workshop! Inspiring!

  6. Anonymous8:09 PM


    Thank you for putting your finger on the successes of #nerdlution, despite yours (and apparently others' including my own) "failures" at completing stated goals.

    I wish I could show air quotes for that word "failure". Because in fact, as you so eloquently explain, you did not fail. You learned. About community. And about learning from the sidelines. About goal-setting. About translating these learning to the classroom. But most importantly learning about yourself. And isn't that what #nerdlution was really all about?

    I reflected about #nerdlution at about its midpoint and came to similar conclusions.

    I am ready to get back on the horse. #nerdlution round two will only include one goal, will allow for days off and will build on my one success, establishing a meditation practice. Have you decided where you are going with yours?

    In community,

  7. Anonymous10:29 PM

    I love the way you tied your #nerdlution observations to the classroom. I'm glad your quieter or sit-on-the-sidelines kids have a teacher who can try to understand them beyond assumptions. Good luck in round 2!


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