Saturday, October 26, 2013

Renewed Commitments to Reflection

Since last spring many amazing things have been happening for me as a teacher, a professional, and as someone who loves to learn and share that learning with others. I've been trying to organize my thoughts and reflect more deeply but have been struggling with how and where to do so in the midst of an intense school year. I try my best to make time to read and contribute on the Google+ communities that I value greatly, and to connect with colleagues in my building and around the district and state, but I keep feeling like something is missing. This morning I realized it was a space all of my own to share anything that feels important to me in that moment. I struggle with over-sharing my personal experiences or thoughts when responding to others because, while I know how helpful other people's experiences can be, I don't want to hijack a post or shift the focus unnecessarily. But in the end I still need a place to process.

From a young age I have been one who is constantly thinking and reflecting but have learned to be cognizant that my processing experience may not be of value to others. In every situation I'm in I seek out the like-minded person or people who I know will understand my endless, and sometimes wandering, thought processes. Many would say I "over-think" just about everything. But really, can one think too much? I don't know if I've ever been in a situation or job where my constant reflection and need to make things better hasn't been turned into a negative. People have told me I'm threatening to those who don't think as much as I do, too thorough, idealistic, and that I need to lower my expectations. As a person who is so reflective I open myself up to continual feedback, but it took me a long time to realize that my need for positive change is not something that I need to fix. I cannot own how others react or feel about who I am and what I set out to do. If we're being honest I still struggle with truly believing that at times, but even when I doubt myself I refuse to give in and let others dictate what is best for me, or my students.

So today I came back to this lonely little blog that I started in 2012 when I was struggling to not get bogged down in the negativity and stress that plagues so many educators. When I saw that I made only one post my instinct was to trash it and start over, but instead I am choosing to continue something I started and see it through this time. I am committing to at least one post a week. If I need to vent or process negativity I am committing to also posting an idea on how to improve the situation for myself and others. Sometimes I may just want to share something funny a student said, or a beautiful moment that happened in my classroom, or to brag a little about something I felt successful with. I think one of my struggles is trying to compartmentalize the different aspects of my life and career and to worrying whether my thoughts are appropriate for that audience and purpose, but that is what leads me to creating blogs that contain only 1 post! I am choosing not to limit myself here in that way. I am also choosing to not obsess over the writing itself. I usually proofread emails at least once before sending, so you can imagine how many times I edit and revise a blog post before submitting. Again, do we wonder why I have no time for blogging?! I have to give myself permission to ramble, to say as many or as few words as I feel necessary, and to not over-analyze any of it.

My hope is that this will become an outlet for me to reflect on my own practice, on the joys of teaching and learning, and on the possibilities we each have to make things better. If others find value in my thoughts or contribute to push my thinking forward it will be a great bonus.