Posted by: principalsintraining | July 15, 2014

The Spirit of One Take – Break the Rules and Have An #EduMoment

sadie                    9-year old Sadie, who ONLY knows how to do things in One Take.

After blogging for about a year and a half, I’ve gotten familiar with my typical process: open up a blank post when an idea strikes, revisit it when possible (sometimes months later) to churn out ideas or refine what I’ve previously written, fill it in bit by bit with links to people and things that make my piece deeper and better.  The process by which I’ve “birthed” 45 previous posts is unique to each one, but ultimately I would say I have a methodology that is fairly consistent – a comfortable consistency that can easily blur into a rigid “way of doing things.”

I’ve written about what it takes to disrupt the patterns that we (as individuals, as organizations) consciously and unconsciously propagate.  So how can I embrace this spirit of renewal in my own work – to move beyond a mindset of “I know how to do this” to “How can I go about learning and trying new things?”  Moving from one school to another – high school to middle school – is a start (follow us at Hall Middle!).  This blog is an important place for me to share and learn, so today feels like an opportunity to SHOW how I approach this mindset – and to invite others to participate.

I would like use this post to see what it feels like to disrupt my own methodology; even now, a part of me is primed to write, save, and revisit in the near-ish future before publishing.  It’s summertime, and our great luxury in education is being able to step away from the many routines and methodologies that become the air we breathe, that dictate our movements and interactions, and inform how we think and feel about life and work.  In the spirit of trying something new, of doing something for the first time, I am going to write this post in one (brief) sitting and send it out as an invitation for others to do the same in the spirit of doing things in one take and to share that effort (in whatever form it may be) as an #EduMoment. 

(I’m already experiencing the jarring sensation of moving against the current – my personal current, my set of rules – so that tells me I’m getting somewhere…this moment is challenging me!)

This is not a “pure” effort.  I’ve been thinking about this idea intermittently – usually when out for a hike or run in my thinking places – so this post isn’t exactly tabula rasa.  Despite the slight bending of the rules – after all, I could be accused of premeditation at the simple act of opening up WordPress – I commit to publishing only what I write while sitting here, over the course of perhaps 90 minutes (still way too long!).  Probably it would help for me to explain why I’m interested in the “one take” effort – after all, isn’t what matters the ideas expressed, the connections made, the dialogue begun (or continued)?  Who cares if we need 10 drafts to get there?

Well, I’ll offer a few bits of evidence as to why committing to doing something in one take permits a different kind of thinking to occur and allows us to relinquish our sense of control and protocol over what we say and the things we do – whether in the personal or professional realm.  How in doing so we experience a more visceral energy and feel a deeper spark of daring.  In the spirit of summer, the magical early morning freshness and long evenings that give us permission to bend/break the rules (eating dinner outside on the grass instead of at a table, bedtime for adults and kids flexing according to the whims of the day), I challenge us all to experiment and create without worrying about polish.

How about David Theriault helping out a student with this video done in one take?


Or how about Dave Morris talking about the Way of Improvisation – embracing the spirit of “Play, Let Yourself Fail, and Say Yes” (amongst other tenets).


I think this is why we love selfies – pose, point, shoot, share.  Here’s my good colleague Liz Seabury having fun with a student at a basketball game.

Liz Ben

Here’s a fun one – channeling the spirit of my lab Sadie (cover model for this post):


In education we talk about “Aha moments” – but how much work have we done to really catalog them?  Let’s create an “aha” playlist for the summer of 2014 – and use it as sustenance for continued play, failure, and saying YES as we dive back into the swirling waters this fall.  If you feel so moved, share your “One Take” efforts on Twitter, G+, Facebook, etc., and use the #EduMoment hashtag so that we can help each other stay fresh and vibrant by breaking the rules that keep us too serious, too polished, too rehearsed.


                        It’s never NOT fun with the inimitable Chad Stuart.

If you get stuck, just grab a mic and start talking…(the rules of improv apply to our farewell Senior Breakfast!).  And don’t forget to let your students, and your own kids, in on the fun of discovery and learning something new.




  1. I really like your thoughts here. Sometimes we just put to many thoughts into things. Sometimes it is just better to improvise, write some ideas down and look at those ideas at a later point. Great ideas! Thanks for sharing those ideas with us!

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