If you are not familiar with Austin Kleon, including his books and regular email posts, then you need to stop what you’re doing and get cozy with one of the best creator minds out there.
What I love about Austin Kleon’s work is that it can apply to anyone in any field who is doing creative work. And, what is creative work, you may ask? Well, in my mind, creative work is anything you do to invent or reinvent ideas, projects, products, etc that teach, help, support or entertain others.
As a teacher, I consider myself a creator, and not because I create lesson plans, though there’s that, but because I am constantly inventing ways to better teach and connect with my students.
As a teacher-writer I create writing for myself and others that hopefully inspires and nudges others to do whatever they are moved to do. And that is another reason I like Austin Klein’s work: it is never prescriptive, always inventive and I can often find a personal or professional application to everything he shares. And he shares a lot!
So, today I want to share how he has taken the idea of morning pages, transformed it, and allowed me to see even further possibilities.
In his email newsletter this week, Austin Kleon wrote about how he has taken Julia Cameron’s morning pages idea and adapted it to his needs. To me this is the sign of an innovative mind: someone who hears about an idea and that remixes it to address a need they have. Austin Kleon has done this and I have taken it and adapted it to my situation as a teacher.
Morning pages are similar to a brain dump. You just write what’s in your head in a stream of consciousness style for a designated number of words, pages or minutes. The original morning pages idea was to write three pages, first thing in the morning, about whatever comes into your mind.
This is very therapeutic and helps set the tone for the day. It may help clear your mind of noise to make room for what’s important to you.
It may highlight important ideas or projects you want to address.
It may help create a list of projects for your work day.
It can be a way to get unstuck when you don’t know what to write about. A kind of mental meditation habit to clear your mind. Once on the page, it can be set aside.
Austin Kleon writes three things he notices on one day and then the next day he’ll write about it in an extended way. This is one of the ways he has adapted the original morning pages idea. The three things he notices fits in with his practice of keeping track of his daily activities.
When I read this, I had a lightbulb moment. What if I focus in on one student every day and write down three things I notice during our online classes. Then, later that day, I write long about each of those things? What might it reveal about that child? What might it reveal about what I tend to focus on? What might this practice tell me about what I may be missing and need to uncover?
So, I started doing this two days ago in my teacher journal. And, it is helping me synthesize and pinpoint areas to focus on for each child. Once I’ve done a few children, I may discover a pattern or a trend to address in my teaching.
The possibilities are endless, but right now it is helping me feel like I’m doing deeper work to get to know and understand my students so that I can connect with them better and focus my teaching to their needs.
Thank you, Austin Kleon!
Cross posted to The Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Tuesday Story Challenge.