The Possibilities of No Wireless Access

I just got back from a three day writing retreat with Brenda Power and several contributors for Choice Literacy. I don’t often the use the word “awesome”, but they were an awesome group. I was awed by their professionalism, awed by their prolific and effective writing skills, and awed by their acceptance into their community.

Now…down to the reason I wrote this post.

Last night I planned on going into a few drafts that needed some revision. I quickly realized that wireless access was fleeting. Most likely it was my two year old+ MacBook Air that needs a good cleaning and cache-clearing (our host site, the Arbor Hill Inn, was excellent). No matter how much finagling I did, I could not get online to access my drafts in Google Docs.

No Internet Connection
Source: Flickr

Instead of chewing my nails, I dug back into some earlier drafts I had produced on my writing software, Scrivener. One piece I uncovered, Unspoken Leadership, described my experience in serving as a community representative for the local high school’s recognition ceremony for deserving students. This writing connected some of the less visible attributes of leadership, such as active listening and long term planning, with my own capacities as a principal.

I pulled it up, made some necessary updates, and the following morning printed it out for our final peer review group before checking out. The feedback was overly positive, with very few suggestions other than tying the ideas together with transitions.

Had I been able to connect with wireless, yes, I could have had more time to revise my other pieces already written. But I most likely would not have dug down into my previous writing and uncovered a possible gem that just needed some dusting off.

I have become very dependent on the Internet as a primary source, possible the main source, of information in my life as an educator and as a person. Twitter, blog feeds, and other social media demand my time and attention. This constant access keeps us up-to-date on what’s happening now. But what about what happened before? Our capacities for reflection and metacognition might be hindered in our need for connection.

This small example reminds me to be cognizant of the paradox of writing for onself while being mindful of our potential audience. There is no clear line between the two. Each context brings its own set of benefits and constraints. Finding the balance is a necessary skill so that we don’t lose sight of what came before.

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 ( 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 ( and Lead Literacy (

2 thoughts on “The Possibilities of No Wireless Access”

  1. “Our capacities for reflection and metacogintion [sic] might be hindered in our need for connection.” This line gave me pause and caused me to reflect on my recent journey without internet access (which should be connecting as we speak in my new house!). It proved to be very difficult to stay plugged in to everything going on in the world, but made me rely more upon human interaction and caused me to be intentional with my time in regard to what social media I engaged with, as well as how I scheduled my time and travel plans to find a connected location. I am somewhat leery of reverting back to my over-stimulated on-demand ways of internet connectivity, but am excited to have that access back at the same time. Thanks for making me think, Matt.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s