What I Learned While I Was Off Twitter This Past Week

I took another tech sabbatical during spring break (April 14-19). It didn’t mean I was totally removed from the digital world – only Twitter, my blog, and a few other feeds that could distract me from being present at home.

Here are a few reflections from my short break:

  • Learning can happen anytime. The distance I sought from my digital connections did not mean that I wasn’t learning. My mind came back to prior ideas, while I was at mass, raking leaves, and reading the news. In fact, having that extra time to process what I was pondering allowed me to more deeply reflect on these ideas and connect them elsewhere.
  • We don’t need technology to be distracted. One of my goals over break was to put together my manuscript for my first book. As I reverse outlined chapters in my notebook, my son would ask me questions about random stuff, such as how to play the guitar. I was so deep in thought during this task, that I sometimes did not hear his questions the first or second time. Being present is about what our minds are on, and not necessarily what are fingers are on.
  • Nylon guitar strings don’t sound as good as steel. I had my old guitar restrung for my son. We tried to play a few chords on it, but they all sounded the same. However, we did find a couple of cool apps on the iPad for tuning the guitar and taking lessons.
  • Ketchup + Horseradish = Shrimp Cocktail Sauce. Okay, not earth-shattering. The butcher at our local grocery store informed me of this fact, after noticing my prepackaged shrimp plate in my cart. Based on his information, I purchased fresh shrimp from him instead. Would the butcher have been as inclined to give me this advice, had I been checking my phone while shopping? Possibly not.
  • Prepare for the Unexpected. I had fully intended to put in a new raised garden bed in our yard. Instead, Central Wisconsin got this:



  • I like being connected. Although it gets easier every time I take a break from my digital connections, I did miss the interactions with my personal learning network. At the same time, taking a break helped me better appreciate everyone on the other end once I returned.


Author: Matt Renwick

Matt Renwick is an 18-year public educator who began as a 5th and 6th-grade teacher in Rudolph, WI. He now serves as an elementary principal for the Mineral Point Unified School District (http://mineralpointschools.org/). Matt also teaches online graduate courses in curriculum design and instructional leadership for the University of Wisconsin-Superior. He tweets @ReadByExample and writes for ASCD (www.ascd.org) and Lead Literacy (www.leadliteracy.com).

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