Every time I teach Genius Hour, I promise to do my own project along with the students. This allows me to model the steps of the process for them, but even more, it forces me to live out lifelong learning in front of them (not that lifelong learning is a problem for me… I don’t think I could stop learning if I tried). Last year for Genius Hour I read the book Reclaiming Conversations by Sherry Turkle and practiced eliminating digital distractions. This year, I’m turning that on its head and focusing on content creation, rather than avoiding excess consumption.
It’s time to resurrect my blog.
I’ve thought about this for a while, and the timing seemed right regardless of Genius Hour. I miss writing. I miss the discipline and practice of processing my thoughts through the written word. I miss honing a sentence down to its exact nuance, embracing the challenge of conveying tone through a screen. I miss putting my voice out there to the world and seeing where it goes beyond me. Somehow during the years of unemployment and early motherhood, I fell out of practice. But I’m teaching again, actually digging in some roots for the long haul this time. Last year I watched several of my middle school students pursue writing for fun. I felt woefully inadequate to teach and encourage them in their endeavors. Formal writing is my academic comfort zone; I’ve let my informal writing skills wane too much. It’s time to dust them off again and see what I can do.
However, if I’m doing this as my Genius Hour project, that means I actually have to tell my students about it! I’ve never openly shared this blog with a real-live, in-person class. I had a class of 10th graders who accidentally stumbled over it once, but this feels different. There’s a different level of vulnerability that comes with announcing “Here’s my work! Wanna check it out?”. But isn’t that what I’m asking them to do in Genius Hour? Then I need to do it, too.
So before I go any further, allow me to speak directly to any of the students who may have clicked on the “Mrs. Roberson’s Blog” link in their Genius Hour resources page. I’ll say the same thing to you that I said to those 10th graders way back when: There is vulnerability in putting myself out there like this, just like there would be for you. So as you read, I’m not asking you to like my writing. I’m not asking you to care. I’m just asking you to respect what it means to me.
Once I decided to blog regularly again, I debated if I should pick up the long-dormant pieces of this blogspace, or if I should start fresh with a new page, free of history, old followers, and details of my personal life. Should I build on the foundation I so carefully crafted for myself all those years ago? Or should I start from scratch, gaining new readers on a new platform for a new phase of life?
I decided on the former – mostly because it’s easier. The work of setting up this page is already done. I like the aesthetic I landed on here. Maybe someday I’ll upgrade, but this will do for now. And if any of my former readers are still lingering in the WordPress world, it might be nice to let them know whatever happen to that nomadic teacher with grand ideas about preparing teens for life. They might like to know where and how I finally landed.
And to take it a bit deeper – this IS my foundation. All the books I read and reviewed here, all the projects and ideas I explored while moving all over the country, all the classrooms I visited as I taught and subbed my way across America — they inextricably shaped the teacher I am today. My current students reap the direct results of all the personal and professional growth documented here.
So here I am, back to “Avoiding Neverland”. I never stopped the passion. I never gave up on the idea of actively preparing young people for life after school. The IMMOOC (Innovator’s Mindset Massive Open Online Course) and other few random posts that popped up occasionally between 2015 and 2018 speak to that. I just lost the written discipline, and that’s what I’m hoping to reclaim.
This year I introduced Genius Hour to my students by showing them a clip of Simon Sinek’s “Start with Why” TED Talk. So in the name of leading by example, here’s my “why”:
I write to move the needle towards educational change — primarily in myself, because I think (and therefore teach) better when I write, but if my voice resonates with and encourages others, too, so much the better.
When I started blogging, I was a twenty-something wife of a grad student with grand ideas and no way to enact them. Now I’m a thirty-something mom, wife of an eye doctor, and middle school language arts teacher. I still have grand ideas, but now I consider them within the context of the daily grind – a real job, real students, real lesson plans that fly or flop based on what happens each day in my classroom (I use the term “classroom” loosely… but that’s a post for another time).
Welcome (back) to my journey.