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Finding Common Ground

A former K-5 public school principal turned author, presenter, and independent consultant, DeWitt provides insights and advice for education leaders. He can be found at

Education Opinion

Is It Time to Disconnect?

By Peter DeWitt — November 25, 2014 3 min read

It seems odd to write about disconnecting. After spending the past two days in Rochester, NY at NYSCATE, which is the New York State Association for Computers and Technologies in Education Annual Conference. It was a great time meeting colleagues and spending time with friends. The truth is, the conference was about technology as well as taking time to reflect, re-energize and re-engage. It’s time to re-energize.

In the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey says Sharpening the Saw is one of the most important actions we can take to become effective. Truth be told, I have never been very good at sharpening the saw. I’m sure there are many of you out there that are guilty of working so hard your saw is getting a bit...dull.

Being connected is really important. It keeps us current, we have found professional/personal learning networks (PLN) that have helped change our practice because they have helped push our thinking and inspired us to become risk-takers and not just rule followers.

But over the past few weeks, I have become a bit too obsessed. I surf from Twitter to Facebook to e-mail. I read what people are doing and become envious of their opportunities while losing focus on my own. I began worrying about numbers as much as I worried about substance, and began to lose my focus on life.

Beyond blogging I have been way too focused on “Liking” things my “Friends” post on Facebook and re-Tweeting blogs, quotations and pictures on Twitter. When I close Mac multiple times a day, I pick up my phone and walk downstairs to the living room. The blue light on my Samsung flashes every few seconds beckoning me to pick it up and see who has sent me private messages or texts.

My iPad awaits me when I get ready in the morning so I can listen to Pandora while I shower, but when I go to turn it off I always have a number popping up next to my e-mail to notify me that I have another message. I guess I should feel fortunate that I am connected but I have begun to go to the other side where I let my mood get influenced by what I see in Tweets, pictures on Facebook or messages I get through e-mail.

So, I’m disconnecting for a few days. No blogs, no Twitter and no Facebook...maybe. It’s not easy to do. I’m sweating a bit thinking about not picking up one of the devices that sit around my home. You won’t notice my absence, but I will. After posting at least 3 blogs a week for the past 3 ½ years, I have become a creature of habit where I pressure myself to get blogs done every Sunday, Tuesday and Friday.

With the holidays coming up, the skies being a little grayer here in the Northeast, I realized I need less time to connect and more time to reflect. As educators we are busy. There is so much flying at us on a daily basis. Among the noise of distractions are some great things too, but we are moving rapidly in numerous directions, and sometimes we are flying passed our own family members when we rush to the next obstacle.

There is a reason why Black Friday, a day I have long avoided, has turned into Thanksgiving Thursday. Everyone wants a little more, and they don’t care what they have to give up in order to get it. We just need to keep in mind there is an opportunity cost with every decision we make. Something always loses out, and sometimes that is a someone.

Sharpen the saw.

I hope you have the opportunity to sharpen your own saw. Give yourself the permission to disconnect. It’s not that we always have people around us who pressure us to do a little more with a little less. Sometimes we are our own worst enemies. We don’t give ourselves permission to slow down until our bodies break and we become sick or tired.

Take some time to sharpen the saw.

It’s time to disconnect.

Connect with Peter on Twitter...keeping in mind he’s disconnected for a few days.

The opinions expressed in Peter DeWitt’s Finding Common Ground are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.


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