ESLS Community of Scholars Celebrates Ten-Day Writing Challenge

Established in its current form in 2019, the Community of Scholars (CoS) is a steering committee within AASL’s Educators of School Librarians Section, whose purpose is to “cultivate and maintain the development of a community of scholars in the school library research field, or scholars ancillary connected to school library research.” The Community of Scholars plans activities and events aiming to establish, connect, and sustain a network of researchers, practitioners, and students interested in school library research and inquiry. The CoS also works to highlight accomplishments in school library research, promote professional development and growth for researchers, and connect the community to each other and to the work of school library research. Currently, the CoS is working on several initiatives, including an aggregation of research by school library scholars in 2019. And the CoS recently celebrated its first ever writing challenge, as school library researchers started the new year off “write” by committing to write for one hour a day during ten days in January.

In the spirit of popular challenges for writing novels in November, starting a fitness regimen for the new year, or reading books or pages toward a set goal, the Ten-Day Writing Challenge invited scholars to establish some goals for writing, reflect and report on their progress during the challenge, and find motivation and support in one another.

The challenge opened with an inspiring talk by Dr. Helen Crompton, associate professor of Instructional Technology at Old Dominion University, Virginia. An accomplished researcher and author of over 150 articles on educational technology, Dr. Crompton shared some of her favorite tips and practices for building and sustaining successful writing habits, including ways to move forward when facing a blank page and strategies for reading and coding literature for efficient reference when writing. Participants offered perspectives and anecdotes on their own habits, obstacles, and ideas for supporting writing, from seeking fellowship on social media to writing with washable crayons in the shower. Then for 10 days, encouraged by daily e-mail tips, participants wrote, logged minutes, and reflected on their processes, goals, and troubles.

As participants agreed in the opening session and in comments shared throughout the challenge, finding the time to write was not always easy. From faculty responsibilities to family commitments, to the events in Washington, DC, on January 6, concerns of all kinds drew time and attention from writing. Yet, over the ten days, 38 participants logged 7924 minutes, or 132 hours. Here are a few reflections that scholars shared during the challenge:

  • My coauthors and I submitted our manuscript for publication!
  • Got a great start to my outline–appreciate the advice and tips on getting motivated to be begin from the opening session.
  • Feel like I have made some really great progress toward completing my project this week! So motivated by setting aside this daily time to write.
  • Finally found some flow.
  • I am excited about the writing process again. Not that it is easy–but that it is so satisfying when I have put time in on writing work.
  • Felt great to start this challenge and connect to a common goal with colleagues!
  • So thankful for this challenge to continue to motivate me! I realize how often I let “a million other things” get in the way of writing and realize I need to prioritize writing and research.

The challenge wrapped up with a Friday afternoon Zoom celebration led by Dr. Sue Kimmel, chair of the Community of Scholars. At the closing celebration, participants found sympathetic ears, encouragement, humor, and momentum to continue writing. Looking ahead, participants shared interest in continuing the network of scholarly support and accountability, perhaps lining up a challenge or two in the future!

Author: Rebecca Morris, Valerie Byrd-Fort, and Sue Kimmel

Categories: Association News, Blog Topics, News, Professional Development

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