Language Teachers have it tough. If you take the English route, you’re trained on Shakespeare and Chaucer, Morrison and Cisneros, but when you’re in the classroom, your reality is brief passages from pre-selected work or even random non-fiction articles with a nameless byline. Random.
It’s hard to bring to life what students see as dead weight (irrelevant, dead authors), so I am constantly trying to bridge the connection between breathing body and canned curriculum.
I use Writer’s Notebooks to study life of words via genre.
We love immersion and emulation. Everything that any writer has ever written, thought, seen or heard is an invitation. It’s very cool.
I have gone through every single genre experience with my students because I see myself — through the myriad identities of my life — as a writer. I share my thinking as a writer, my pitfalls, my stumbles, my successes, my tips, my tricks, my thinking. We live Writer’s Workshop. I’ve written my own poems, essays, expository pieces, stories, through putting them all through the Writing Process, from collecting to stitching to refining to publishing. It’s very cool.
What I have not done is blogging with my kids.
I used to blog. I used to.. computerize my compositions, years and years ago, before I put anything in a notebook. It was my preferred mode of expression in the dawn of my adult life. I know things about it — pertaining to voice, personality, attachment, thought- and essay- development — that I have not explored in YEARS. Why?
Because at the dawn of this adult life, I was shamed in a couple of ways. And like a lot of silent rebels, sometimes you want to destroy your creation before someone else can mar with another criticism, conjecture or a cornucopia of cuckoo and hate. So, you kill it, silence the dream and try to move on. People are mean. And until you’re ready to face what you know may lie ahead, sometimes your creation can lay dormant forever. Sometimes years.
Through Slice of Life, I’ve been able to mess around a little. It’s difficult. It’s crazy. Sometimes I think I may seem unstable. But, I’m not breaking any laws, I know I am a good (GOOD) person and I don’t like the idea of crossing any bad lines. I’m in a place in my life where I will thoughtfully and lovingly engage with anyone who has a different opinion than mine — and where my opinion transcends politics and religion. I’m just not scared anymore.
So — what does this have to do with blogging?
I guide students through writing. Writing is life. So, in effect, I guide students through their life, and, really, in publishing their life on the written page. Blogging is no different.
The problem is, it CAN be a problem, especially for young people. So, it’s necessary to recall important experiences and frame them in a way that is helpful to young people. Because you want them to keep writing forever!
If you’re a writing teacher, you understand this. We spend years undoing the damage of previous experiences, and it’s important we go lightly where others have not dared to tread. And.. well, look at what we ourselves are dealing with. Half of us prefer to remain anonymous online (including me.. my AKAs litter cyberspace) for various reasons, but I bet most of it has to do with the fear of ridicule, repercussions, recriminations. Maybe I just speak for me..
When I introduce real blogging to my kids, I want them to anticipate and be watchful of what transpires between writer and audience as they tranfer their own thinking from a private notebook to a medium that transcends Snapchat, Kik, or Instagram.
I am paying attention to my own reactions to other’s blogs.
I am reacting in a way I know is positive, sometimes frightful to myself because of the risk, but I cope with putting myself through something new, and everything turns out okay. I have something important to say, I know there is value in me, and I grow stronger with every word, sentence, paragraph, whole or incomplete idea.
I am me.
What I’ve done today is Writing to Think, sorting stuff out in my mind so I can figure out what I want to do next in my world, my teaching, my life. I have seen excellent models of marvelous, precise and grand thinking online, of storytelling and rhyme. I have seen the possibilities. I have tried and had some successes, I have messed up and gone on. I have been patient with myself, I know and trust others have been patient with me (I know they have the privilege of just ignoring me, which is a nice consolation — I do worry I bother people), and I’ve begun to see I have an end-game. A purpose.
This is what writer’s do.
It’s time to blog.