2 min read

A Dissertate Progress Report

A Dissertate Progress Report
Senator Bob Dole and Senator Chris Dodd present a large "Speech Report Card" marked with an A+ to President George H.W. Bush

Ten weeks in! I think I'm supposed to be tracking metrics, comparing which newsletters get opened the most, etc. etc. but that's not especially fun. So mostly I've been talking to people about words, thinking about words, and continuing the great writer tradition of convincing myself the order I put my words into isn't the worst. Here's what I've learned - or was reminded - so far.

Whatever bug in my brain that Twitter fed is satiated by the routine and work of doing this newsletter.

I think there's two things at play. First, I'm able to have extended conversations with people about education - the primary reason I was on Twitter. Second, I find I adopt a fairly stilted voice when I tweet that makes shifting to book writing that much harder. I have less trouble making that shift from newsletter thinking/writing to book thinking/writing and goodness, I do so enjoy that.

Braver Angels founder Bill Doherty is right: conversations about the hard stuff - especially with people you disagree with - has to happen face to face (or at least not online.)

Bill talks about the importance of face to face conversations in the latest episode of the podcast Have You Heard (which I highly recommend) especially with people you with disagree with. Matt and I still disagree on some really big stuff and we didn't necessarily find common ground. But we were able to, I think, find and better see each other's humanity. And that's pretty cool. I still think we can have hard conversations on-line and I'll still occasionally ask clarifying questions or ask if someone is willing to change their mind. I'm still pursuing conversations with people I've disagreed with and hope to bring more to you soon.

Nearly everything connected to teaching and teachers is complicated and worthy of nuance.

I knew that already. I'm sure you did as well. The work around this newsletter - the thinking, the reading, the writing, the conversations - have solidified it for me to such a degree I now feel a sense of annoyance when I see people making sweeping generalities about schools and education. On that point, it's probably best I'm mostly staying off Twitter. One thing that's not more complicated? Bathrooms. Teachers - and students - deserve more and better bathroom access.


If I may be bold, in case you missed it, my conversations with:

  • Kate Roberts - we talked about shared humanity, making hard decisions in the public eye and the shifting world of teacher PD
  • Larry Ferlazzo - we talked his storied career, changes he's seen, and his advice for people looking to talk to teachers
  • Shawna Coppola - we talked about the public/private divide and on-line communities
  • Alex Shevrin Venet - we talked about the messiness of jargon in education, especially the phrase "trauma-informed"
  • Angela Stockman - we talked about a bunch of stuff, including calling in/out

A friend recommended the book, The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why It Matters by Priya Parker and I'm really enjoying it. If you ever have cause to bring people together, I highly recommend it.

Slate's Slow Burn Season 9 is called Gays Against Briggs and it is fantastic.

If you know of anyone who you think might be interested in a conversation - or if you're interested! - please do reach out. Also, please consider sharing the newsletter with friends and colleagues. I'm on vacation next week so no newsletter next Friday. More conversations, explainers, and more on deck.