I’m going to call this my first blog post, which is a lie. Below is my actual first blog post in its entirety:
Sharing my innermost thoughts with complete strangers sounds scary.
What if they judge me?
What if I’m wrong?
What if I make a mistake? Everyone will know. Everyone will see it.
Aren’t these the feelings, though, that propel us to greatness? These insecurities are what prompt us to reflect on our work and make positive changes.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve never experienced that doubt around a notebook, journal, or piece of paper that only my English teacher was going to read… if she read it at all, that is.
But I also probably didn’t try my hardest. Again, only my English teacher was going to read it.
There is safety and comfort in notebook paper, but isn’t there more to gain from taking a digital risk? Won’t a wider audience force me to be a better writer?
Let’s find out.
I wrote that for my seventh graders in August. My aim was to get them excited about blogging, not knowing that my students didn’t realize they were writing and would equate blogging with unicorns, rainbows, cupcakes, and happiness. I know that now. I also know that I’m not even doing what I’ve asked my students to do. You have to do that to be a successful teacher; that’s one lesson I’ve learned in my four-and-a-half years of teaching,
I’ve learned a myriad of lessons, in fact, and Mr. David Theriault‘s post “What’s Greater Than Great? The Surprising Connection Between EdcampHome and the 80s Lakers” has inspired me to share these lessons.
And by “inspired” I mean “kicked me in the pants.”
And by “lessons” I mean “horrific failures that taught me something valuable.”
Seeing all of the reflections about EdcampHome on Google+ also stirred me. I make my students reflect on their work all the time. Sometimes they share it. We compare struggles and successes, not competitively but collaboratively. And I won’t even do the same with my PLN?!? Come on, people who weren’t even able to attend EdcampHome posted thoughtful reflections, like John Wick‘s “Rebels in the Classroom.” Why would I not share my thoughts?
The answer is selfishness, but I didn’t realize that until Mr. Theriault’s post. I connect one-on-one with several to muddle through my first year of Common Core ELA standards, my first year of standards-based grading in ELA, and my first year of combined reading and grammar classes. Oh, and navigate a new school, because I transferred at the end of last year. Crystal Pinson teaches ELA at my school, and we reflect together on nearly a daily basis. Dr. Felicia Bates – aside from being my mother-in-law and therefore on-call 24/7 – is a literacy guru and Common Core Coach for Tennessee. And I connected with Chris Crouch, an instructional coach in Kentucky, because I needed someone who knew how to teach English and could tolerate my overabundance of inexperience, and, therefore, questions. I love asking questions.
Truthfully, I receive good feedback from amazing people every day. But Mr. Theriault explains that this isn’t enough in a PLN. When I share what I learn, others can learn with me or from me. That’s what collaboration is, and I’m not really giving back as much as I’m getting from my PLN. I’m being selfish.
I don’t want to be selfish anymore. I get by with a little help from my friends; it’s time I started giving back to my friends.
The question is what lessons I need to share first. Any suggestions?