It is my intention to participate in this month's Teacher Challenge, a professional development program of sorts, supported by Edublogs. The Challenge will offer a month's worth of activities to help bloggers increase their readership, improve their posts, and learn from other edubloggers all over the world. I have such a busy month ahead, I hope I can keep up. I'm certainly going to try.
I never knew when I got into teaching that the profession would involve so much self-reflection. Teachers like to think about how things are going and how things can be better in their classrooms and in their schools. When I was a first-year teacher more than twenty years ago, my school sent me to a new teachers retreat. I was working in New York City, and this conference was in a very small, very rural town called Rensselaer, New York, not too far from Albany. The conference center sat in the middle of nothing, in the middle of nowhere. Literally. The rooms were bare and poorly lit. No TVs, either. At night, I felt like Kyle McLaughlin in Twin Peaks. I fully expected to open my eyes at three in the morning to see a giant at the foot of my bed.
But by the end of my three days there, the sterility and starkness of the room made some sense to me. When not distracted by TV and telephone calls and mini bars, all I did for three days was reflect, reflect, reflect. I thought about why I had chosen to become a teacher and how I was interacting with my students and where I hoped my career would take me. Turns out, the conference was one of the best I've ever attended. I went back to Manhattan feeling profoundly tranquil and thankful to have had the time to turn so much over in my mind.
Today, the Teacher Challenge asks me to reflect on my life as a blogger. And I see this as kind of a privilege. What writing this post and writing this blog in general has made me realize is that I have the time and desire to do this self-reflection. Teaching is clearly a profession that requires self-reflection, and every time I write a post, I'm doing that, even if it's not a conscious act. I may appear to be writing a book review or a piece about a tech tool, but what I'm really doing is furthering my understanding of myself: How do I relate to others? What am I hoping to accomplish? What am I really saying here?
But I have not been consistent about posting, at least, not for several months. I suppose having cancer and needing major surgery last fall is a pretty good excuse. I'm healthy now, yet I still haven't returned to posting regularly. Often, I start a post and suddenly feel like I have nothing to say. Or I feel that I have nothing original to add to the conversation and I'm just going to be repeating what someone wiser (and with many more readers) has already said. I get discouraged sometimes, feeling like a very small pebble on a road that is very, very long. I'm hoping that this Challenge will help me overcome some of these doubts I have about my own capabilities.
Blogging has been good for me. I always wanted to be a writer, and now I am writing, if only occassionally. I think I'm building up to something, though. I realize that I have plenty to say when I just take a moment and reflect.
Here's my purty tagxedo, created using this post, in the shape of an apple, if you can't tell!