On Blogging and Putting Myself Out There

“There are many things in life that will catch your eye, but only a few will catch your heart...pursue those.”~Michael Nolan

“There are many things in life that will catch your eye, but only a few will catch your heart…pursue those.”~Michael Nolan

Blogging should be the perfect platform for me.  Since childhood, I have always liked to write.  Not necessarily because I am crazy good at it, but because it is often the only way I can process my thoughts.  In my introverted nature, writing has at times been a way for me to communicate… to share my voice when I felt like I had no other way.  Maybe I should say, I have always needed to write.  With every ounce of my fiber, I believe all people would do better to spend time reflecting on what they are learning.  This is precisely the purpose and meaning behind “In the White Space.”

So, why are there 123 notes in my Evernote notebook called “Thoughts to Blog” and only five on my actual blog space?

This isn’t the first time I have written about the difficulty of blogging.  My first post was about taking baby steps toward the blogging life.  At first, my biggest barrier was myself, and the fear of putting myself out there.  I was dealing with those and then was faced with something new.  Without going into details, I experienced an attitude about blogs that I wasn’t prepared for.  One that asserted blogging was inconsequential because it wasn’t professionally edited or backed by research.  Hmm. This first made me mad because it demeaned, without knowing it, the incredible professional growth I have experienced over the last few years as I have learned from countless education bloggers.  Then it made me think.  What if putting myself out there caused others to see me in a light that was less than professional?

From the time I can remember, my mom has used the phrase, “You wear your heart on your sleeve” to describe me.  Most of the time, I am okay with that and see it as a mark of being a passionate person.  However, when negative opinions about things that have changed who I am as a teacher and even as a person, cause me to pull back – I really dislike that heart wearing sleeve girl.

In the end, I am okay with putting myself out there and even making mistakes.  I have a voice, no matter how small (did you just hear Dr. Seuss?) that might help another small voice somewhere.  At the very least, I will have learned more by reflecting and writing about my experiences and readings – books, journal articles, and yes… even blogs.

So, whomever may be reading this, it is what it is.  A place…

To reflect, process and share my journey.

Where I might make grammatical mistakes or click publish before my writing has been proofread three times.

To share what I have learned in the classroom with real students.

That welcomes responses and refinement on ideas or practices.

Where I can grow.

To make you think or even blog.

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Igniting the Passion to Learn

My students are blogging! The following post was given to them as their assignment and as a mentor text. I am fortunate to be at a small PK-12 school where we see kids grow up through the years, but it is fascinating to read what they say about themselves especially at this critical and formative stage in their lives.

Your first paragraph should tell the reader a little about yourself. For example:

My name is Mrs. Whittington and I teach 6th grade. I have an awesome husband and two fabulous children. My favorite thing to do is to spend time with my family. Conversations around the dinner table, being snowed in at home together and vacations are some of my most precious memories. My favorite sound is hearing my kids laugh together in the other room. I also love to read and listen to music. One thing I like to do that you might not know is that I like to create things. I have made everything from cakes that look like a forest to newsletters and decoupaged furniture.

In From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, Claudia wanted to learn everything about everything. Later, she decided to focus just on one thing and become an expert on the mysterious statue. She developed a passion for the statue called “Angel” and the mystery surrounding it. Passion is defined as a strong feeling of enthusiasm or excitement for something or about doing something. When people have a passion for something, they want to learn more about it and often become an expert at it. What do you have a passion for that you would want to learn “everything” about and become an expert? Your second paragraph should tell about your passion. How long have you loved this thing? What do you already know, and how will you learn more about this passion?

My passion is learning and helping others find the excitement in learning. I know that might sound a little strange to you, or maybe not since I am “the teacher.” What I have found is that no matter what sparks my interest from time to time; I love researching, reading and learning more about it. More than that, I love to see students excited about learning. Learning does not always have to be monotonous and boring, it can be an exciting journey. I am passionate about helping others see that as well.

My hope in blogging is to learn more by thinking about and writing about what we are learning. I also hope we will be able to connect with other classrooms around the country and the world to help us ignite the passion of learning!

Teachers: How do you help students continue to love learning or reignite the love of learning? What about those necessary, but somewhat monotonous things that they need to learn. Are there benefits in learning that not everything is fun?

baby steps… baby steps…

If you do not recognize this quote from the classic comedy What About Bob?  Watch it!  It is a classic must-watch comedy.

It is not that I didn’t want to start a blog. I really did! No one was trying to talk me into blogging (except all the other blogs I found myself drawn to). I have always enjoyed writing. I encourage eleven and twelve-year-old kids to write each day and have even set up blogs for them. Still, I have had the hardest time writing this first post.

I started thinking about what was holding me back. Perfectionism? Fear of being transparent; of not meeting someone’s standard, or worse yet, my own? Time constraints? Intimidation by the uber-bloggers I glean so much from? Honestly, it could be any or all of these at any given time. This self-reflection eventually lead me to think about what holds my students back when I ask them to think outside of the box, or simply give their thoughts on a topic. How often have I been asked of a twelve-year-old if her answer is right, or where he can find an answer in the book after I have given them an open-ended question with thought being the only measure of right or wrong?

Sometimes, I wonder if my love for middle school students stems from the fact that I can still so easily go back there… to that place of insecurity somewhere between the freedom of childhood and those first tastes of understanding your purpose and passion in life. Those places in life that we all still find ourselves on occasion where all we can do is take baby steps, because anything else is overwhelming. Thankfully, I no longer have to live there in the middle of it. This side of many years of living, learning and loving enables me to look past all of those obstacles to my goal, knowing I will survive rejection and disappointment.

The fact remains that I have classrooms of students who are still living there. My goal, my passion is to help them see glimpses of who they are meant to be and to help them become comfortable with their voice. Some of them will need to take baby steps at first, until those things that seem so difficult can be done in full stride. I understand completely.

There it is. It is a beginning. I will not claim anything else for this post, except that it is the start line…. baby steps… baby steps… I did it! I wrote my first post!