3.4 : Drafts and Editing

As you understand your own thoughts more deeply, and feel more comfortable with the idea that every writer, every piece of writing, and every choice of words is different and personal, you can shift your thinking to translating reflection into documentation: something to share with stakeholders.

 

Note:  Documentation is an enormous topic all to itself, and will hopefully be covered in future courses.  I refer to documentation simply as the sharing of information with others: with children, with parents and caregivers, with colleagues, and with the community.  

 

Drafts, and Editing are a terms used by people who write for a living, and they are really applicable to your work as an educator, too!  You likely used these tools as a writer in school, and they are universal ideas because they are valuable.  Let’s take a look.

 

DRAFTS

Drafts are iterations of a single piece.  Instead of having a rough draft, a first, second, and final draft, we’re going to learn from Anne Lamott and have our own three drafts: the down, the up, and the dental.  The down draft just leans getting it down.  This is your first stab at translating a reflection into documentation: a general idea of what you want to get across, and a version that no one but you needs to see.  The UP draft  is the second draft : you fix it up.  You try to say what you want to say more accurately.  The dental draft - the third draft - is where you check every tooth, every nook and cranny, to find loose teeth and decay and - ideally - healthy teeth, too.

 

I use drafts when I write blog posts, when I create courses, when I write important emails - anything that I might want to take a closer look at.  And not everything I write is perfect, but I have a sense of confidence around my message.

Drafts exist, even in short forms.  A sentence can be a draft; a thought: perhaps these turn into captions, or just wonderful sentences that are embedded into a newsletter article, blog post, or panel in your classroom.

 

A final thought on drafts: don’t let the unpublished make you anxious.  I have lots (lots and lots) of unpublished writing.  Most of my reflections do not turn into documentation: they are personal filled with questions and wonderings for myself.  You may start and never finish something: I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing.  You can set personal goals - like publishing one thing per week, or two per month - and keep to those goals by understanding how much time it takes to write and reflect and create drafts.  Whatever your publishing schedule is, look at it through the lens of a writer, and see how that feels.

 

Lots of things will go unpublished.  That is the nature of drafts.  Not everything is a home run, not everything will make your audience hang on to every word.  A publishing schedule can help you move from a big pile of unpublished work to a shorter stack: decide how often you want to publish, and put things on your radar as far in advance as you can.

 

Creating another draft does not necessarily mean working towards publishing, either.  Revisiting your reflections and honing in on more ideas in valuable, too: maybe you just want to revisit a reflection that you wrote when you were feeling a bit vulnerable, a bit frazzled, and continue that reflection with notes in the margins.  

 

EDITING

Editing is closely related to drafts: it is looking at writing and clarifying it.  That is an important place to start: clarification is more important than perfection.

If parents are not engaging with documentation or the sharing of learning stories, look back at your writing and see how clear it is.  Ask someone who is not an educator to read your writing - is the message clear to them?  

When you edit, don’t look for the good versus the bad, or the right versus the wrong.  Remember, you are a unique person with a unique writing voice: how you explain or articulate something will be different than me, or your co-teacher, or your administrator.  That’s not bad, its just different.

Keeping the reader in mind while editing can help you move more smoothly from draft to draft.  That reflective writing that you engage with is for the audience of you - a very important audience!  The first step in editing is remember who you hope will engage.  Are you blogging for other educators?  Are you writing for parents, or a piece for a magazine?  Keep your audience in mind, and write for them, using your own voice.

A final aspect of editing is having a goal for the piece.  Again, your reflections began as personal, introspective, and exploratory.  A reflection may include an “a-ha” moment while you’re writing, and that might turn into your goal, or your thesis for the piece you hope to publish.  This can help guide our publishing schedule, also: do you want to publish one piece per month about mathematics?  About social and emotional development?  Knowing this well ahead of time can give you the time and space to think, to create drafts, to edit.