How to Create Your Circle of the Wise: How to pick the reads in your RSS.

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“The next best thing to be wise oneself is to live in a circle of those who are.” CS Lewis

I believe the great men and women of history would look upon us with envy as we now have the greatest opportunity in human history to immerse ourselves in a circle of the wise.

Using RSS and a free bloglines or netvibes account, you can now surround yourself with the leaders in your field and even become one yourself.

So, how do you select your circle of the wise? How do you keep from being overwhelmed? How do you fit it into your already overfull day?

How do I fit it in my day?

There is an old joke:

“How do you eat an elephant?
Answer: One bite at a time.”

I read bloglines during the little “snippets” of time that are in my day. While I'm at break, an extra five minutes at the end of lunch. And if I'm too busy grading, I listen to podcasts through itunes on my computer. (Itunes is free and you don't need an iPod!)

When I'm having a tough day, I always find encouragement in my circle of the wise. Life is tough and it is great to know that I'm not in it alone.

How do you select your circle of the wise?


It is very apparent that many will do anything in order to “make a buck.” (a la Borat) You should be especially skeptical of just Googling and subscribing to those you find without knowing anything about them. When I began, I started with the one blogger I knew (David Warlick ) and then branched to those he knew (Will Richardson, Wes Fryer, Stephen Downes, Miguel Guhlin, Anne Davis), and then proceeded from there.

The list on the sidebar of most blogs called the “blogroll” (see mine) is a great place to find your circle of the wise. However, don't let this preclude you from finding new people to read that you've never heard of (I started blogging last December and someone had to start reading my stuff!) If you know a wise person who blogs, read their blog. They may be the world's next discovery!


Look for people who inspire you. Life is too tough to have real AND virtual people dragging you down.

“The people whom I have seen succeed best in life have always been cheerful and hopeful people who went about their business with a smile on their faces.” Charles Kingsley

Never equate inspiration with fame (nor success for that matter.) I find inspiration in the lives of teachers who struggle with real problems but manage to teach and inspire anyway. They are my heroes.


I look for people who understand the responsibility of blogging. They understand that “information doesn't travel in straight lines” and know that what they write today may be read by colleagues in five years. At that time, their colleagues will either view them as a pioneer or as a jerk. I prefer pioneers.


I think most bloggers come in two flavors: egotists and conversationalists. The egotists just want to talk about themselves and somehow feel they have a “corner” on the market of knowledge. Conversationalists converse with those who post on their blogs and on the blogs of others than their own. Conversationalists are not stingy with their words but have joined the conversation about the topics they care about!


I like to read people who are widely read and view new knowledge not as an opportunity to dig in and resist but to learn and grow. They are always teaching me something new that I didn't know and often pick up on the real stories that no one else is talking about. They are wise not because they know it all but because they know that they don't and have adopted a mindset of lifelong learning.


I read people who strive for excellence no matter their field. I believe it is important to read the blogs of excellent people in fields other than your own. I get many ideas for my classroom from business leaders and can understand societal trends by listening in on political or news blogs.

Excellence means that WHEN a person makes a mistake that they correct their mistake. It means that they sometimes change their minds with valid reasoning. These people have as a goal for their life to BE excellent. Not because anyone pays them but because it is what they believe in.


I had to add this on because you can do a search of Google News and subscribe to that search via your RSS reader. If you're doing a thesis or have a particular area of research or interest, this is a must do for you. Anywhere you see the little “RSS button” you can subscribe. Just be careful with doing it to many times or you could be discouraged by the thousands of results that turn up!

You become like your circle

There is a reason that we parents care so much about the friends our children choose — we know that they become like those in their circle.

This is the time of year we like to make changes. I believe that every professional should undertake the building of their own “circle of the wise” and work to fit it in your day.

Let me ask you this: if you were able to read the writings of Abraham Lincoln, or CS Lewis, or Ghandi, or Dale Carnegie on a daily basis, would you have done it?

They are among you now. Find them and become transformed.

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Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis is a full-time classroom teacher and IT Director in Georgia, USA. She is Mom of three, wife of one, and loves talking about the wise, transformational use of technology for teaching and doing good in the world. She hosts the 10 Minute Teacher Podcast which interviews teachers around the world about remarkable classroom practices to inspire and help teachers. Vicki focuses on what unites us -- a quest for truly remarkable life-changing teaching and learning. The goal of her work is to provide actionable, encouraging, relevant ideas for teachers that are grounded in the truth and shared with love. Vicki has been teaching since 2002 and blogging since 2005. Vicki has spoken around the world to inspire and help teachers reach their students. She is passionate about helping every child find purpose, passion, and meaning in life with a lifelong commitment to the joy and responsibility of learning. If you talk to Vicki for very long, she will encourage you to "Relate to Educate" or "innovate like a turtle" or to be "a remarkable teacher." She loves to talk to teachers who love their students and are trying to do their best. Twitter is her favorite place to share and she loves to make homemade sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls and enjoys running half marathons with her sisters. You can usually find her laughing with her students or digging into a book.

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Chris Harris December 23, 2006 - 8:01 am

Thank you for such an excellent post. I am new to the world of blogging and the sheer number of education related blogs can be overwhelming. Your post provides some excellent thoughts on who to include in my “cirlce.” I believe that we are in the beginning stages of an educational revolution that will change how we “do school.” I want to be a part of that revolution and I have been looking for the generals, those who are leading the battle.

So who are the generals and how will we recognize them? You had some good thoughts on that topic. I want to add my two cents worth. Great leaders…

Articulate and communicate the vision – A great military leader is able to articulate his vision for the battle at hand on a level that all the soldiers under his command can understand. But more than understanding the vision, the soldiers have to be able to see where they fit it, what their part is in fullfilling the vision. You talked about selecting bloggers for your circle who inspire you. Those who can articulate the vision and give me an idea of where I fit it inspire me to want to be a part of the vision.

Engage the troops – No general ever won a battle by himself. It takes the concentrated, coordinated effort of every soldier in the army to reach the desired goal. The great generals get all the troops involved. You called these people conversationalists. They engage us by not only inviting our participation but by valuing it.

Forge the plan – Every battle needs an effective battle plan. A great general will involve many others in the forging of this plan. In our educational revolution, the leaders that I want to follow are the ones who are not “know it alls.” You called these people learners. They not only engage us in the conversation, they make adjustments in the plan based on the contributions of others.

Lead the charge – I want to follow those who are on the “bleeding edge” of the revolution, the movers and shakers.

I particularly liked the question that you asked at the end of the post.”If you were able to read the writings of Abraham Lincoln, or CS Lewis, or Ghandi, or Dale Carnegie on a daily basis, would you have done it? They are among you now. Find them and become transformed.”

That’s what I want to do!! Find them!! Be transformed!! May the Lincolns and Ghandis rise to the top and be visible to all who would follow them into the battle to change the way we do school and create an educational environment that will equip our students for a future that we can’t see.

Thanks again for a great blog and a great post. By the way, you are on my list of blogs to read daily.

Jeff December 25, 2006 - 1:26 pm

Leaving aside the crack on Borat, I love this post…I’ll be sharing it with my students in the 2nd semester, when I start my second group of kids on the Blogging Experiment.

Happy happy, merry merry, and this reader’ll keep reading anything you write.

Anonymous December 27, 2006 - 1:02 am

Very simply, thank you for all that you do. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Mrs. Vickie June 22, 2010 - 8:05 pm

Positive thinking – I love being around positive people. I am pretty new to this blogging thing and the RSS feeds and have already seen a couple of examples of the types of blogs you mentioned. I want the learning, growing, maturing, striving for excellence, positive blogs. Thanks for sharing. I will look into those bloggers you shared.

Chopper July 7, 2010 - 5:29 pm

Thanks for this. Well done.

Agoder March 2, 2011 - 5:18 pm

I think that this is a GREAT point! I would jump at the opportunity to read and respond to a blog of Ghandi, Martin Luther King, or even on Amelia’s traveling days! I have an assignment for my graduate class that includes creating my “Cirlce”, but I believe this is going to be something that I branch over into my personal life. Thanks for the insight!

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Vicki Davis writes The Cool Cat Teacher Blog for classroom teachers everywhere