It’s been a busy several weeks. Subbing has kept me on my toes – I haven’t worked every day, but I’m working more often than not. Most of my work comes from the neighborhood public school, which is a convenient location, but I’ve been less than impressed with the school itself. In a town of less than 3,000 people, there simply aren’t enough students to achieve a balance of attitudes. The end result is that the disruptive, disrespectful kids tend to dominate the school, creating a negative culture that often just drains me. I’ve been ignored, talked over, and sworn at on a regular basis. Not that I haven’t faced that kind of behavior before at bigger schools – I have, and much worse (at least no one here is throwing punches yet), but usually there’s also the opposite side of the coin to balance out all the negative. Usually there are good kids who band together for solidarity against the crappy attitudes and give us teachers some breathing room and hope for humanity. This school is just too small, so the handful of good kids cower in the corner or sit by in silence while their loud, obnoxious classmates overrun the school.
I had my 21 week anatomy scan last week, and in the midst of measuring bone lengths, checking for all the heart chambers, and telling us that we’re having a girl (yay!), the tech managed to snap some excellent 3D images. One in particular turned out absolutely gorgeous. I love it. The details of her little nose, mouth, and cheeks are so clearly her and not just some generic baby. I can’t stop looking at it. It’s my baby, in 3D and color. Absolutely breathtaking.
I almost included the photo in this post as part of my gender reveal here.
Then I went back and deleted it from the draft, replacing it with the nice stock photo seen above. Here’s why:
It happened. My students found me. Even without the handful of conversations that tipped me off, I could tell by the sudden increase in blog traffic in the last few days. On normal “good” days, I range somewhere between 40 to 120 hits to my blog. Yesterday I received 450 hits. My internet presence has been discovered.
So excuse me for a minute while I speak directly to the crazy, exhausting, entertaining bunch of kids that have filled my days for the last five months.
You found me. It was only a matter of time. So, what do you think? Be nice – I haven’t issued final grades yet. 😛 Seriously, though, this is a more personal glimpse of my life than I give you in the classroom, so keep that in mind as you read. You see me as a teacher, and when I teach, it isn’t about me. It’s about you and your skills, needs, and growth. That’s my focus when I’m in the classroom with you. It always will be. But here I can be a little more vulnerable, a little more honest, a little more introspective. I’ve poured myself into this piece of the internet. I’m not asking you to like it. I’m not asking you to care. I’m just asking you to respect what it means to me.
I’ve been a bit overwhelmed lately. It’s that frustrating phase when work and grading piles up while my life hops on a roller coaster. Students turned in research papers last Thursday. Please don’t ask how many I’ve reviewed yet. The answer is not enough. I need to tackle them soon, though, because I’ll receive another wave of assignments this Thursday, and we’re also trying to finish up Hamlet.
That’s enough to swamp any English teacher, but compounding everything is the fact that my own future is still up in the air. Decisions will be made soon. They haven’t been made yet, and until they are, I’m living in a constant state of distraction. I don’t know yet if I have my job next year. My students know that much already, so I can safely say that on the internet without discussing the details. I doubt they know how hard it is for me to stand up in front of them every day not knowing if I’ll be able to stay. I doubt they know how hard I’ve tried to keep myself from becoming attached to them, and how miserably I’ve failed at that. I doubt they see the number of times I swallow back my emotions while I teach.
I wondered when I took this new job two months ago if I’d be able to maintain my blog. After all, instead of just subbing, I now have to dedicate my time and attention to grading, lesson planning, and you know, teaching. I wondered if the added responsibilities would prevent me from taking the time to write.
It hasn’t. I’m still cranking out at least one post a week. Teaching full-time has given me new avenues of inspiration and a wealth of stories to share, and I still enjoy the mental process of putting my thoughts down in writing. It gives me a chance to reflect and focus, instead of getting caught up in the daily grind.
Something else has fallen by the wayside, though. I have noticed a definite shift in how I experience the blogging world. I have far less time for reading blogs, and I feel a little bad about that.
I don’t know if you noticed… I didn’t immediately “deal” with the fact that my blog has suddenly gained a bigger audience. I knew it was coming. I received the e-mail telling me I would be featured on Freshly Pressed a few days before it actually happened, and since this is Round Two for me (um… what?!), I had a pretty good idea of what to expect. Lots of Likes. Lots of comments. I’d begin with all the good intentions of replying to all of them, and then I’d give up and just start hitting “approve.” Lots of new followers. Lots of people clicking around my blog, liking and commenting on other posts, too. And that’s exactly what happened.
Knowing it was coming didn’t mean that I was ready for it. I watched it all unfold in front of me, but like last time, I kept myself a little detached. Last time I had a very good reason for my detachment. This time? This time I think I was just intimidated by the idea of engaging in all the attention, discussion, and general blogging explosion. I’m still coming to grips with the idea that my blog now has an audience. Not just a few random people here and there, but a steady stream of visitors, complete strangers who are invested in hearing what I have to say. In the past two weeks my blog has gained almost 400 more followers (hello to all of you!). I knew it was coming. My mind is still blown.
Fellow blogger supposedgenius162 of Thought Orchard tagged me in a book post about specific genres, and of course I couldn’t resist joining in the fun! I tried at first to limit myself to one recommendation per genre, but I soon realized that simply wasn’t possible. I am an English teacher, after all. Books are my “thing”. I’m mostly drawn to the classics, but I did try to sift in some more current recommendations into the mix, too. Enjoy!
I have an odd fascination with this genre. I thoroughly enjoyed teaching both The Giver by Lois Lowry (to middle school grades) and Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (to high school classes). Bradbury in particular gives me the chills with both his ideas and his prose. Both books generated some awesome class discussions among my students, too. They were drawing parallels to The Hunger Games, while in my mind I was drawing parallels to Brave New World.
The signs may not be obvious, but they’re there for the keen observer. I haven’t written a book review since April. I’ve been much less consistent at replying to comments. My posts have dropped from twice a week to once a week, and this one is late. The previous two posts were both responses to the Weekly Writing Challenge instead of the brainchild of my own ideas… and this one is, too. Sort of. I’ll explain what I mean in a bit.
All these signs point to one fact. I’ve lost my blogging drive. I still enjoy the act of writing. I’m still floored by the numbers of followers I have – even after sifting through the spam followers that worked their way into the mix. I still feel like I have something to give to the world. However, I’m realizing that blogging was my place-holder for my real mission, and right now, the place-holder is starting to feel a bit flimsy.
This is a rant on something minor inspired by something major. Without getting too personal or political, I have a vested interest in the government shutdown, so I’m keeping a closer eye than usual on the news these days. Not that I don’t pay attention to world events at other times, but right now I’m checking multiple news sources multiple times a day. With all that’s going on, I find I have less patience for the little, annoying things.
This morning on CNN, the cover image on a video news clip included the phrase “#LetsTalk”.
Before I go any further, I should confess that I don’t use Twitter. My online presence is limited to a personal Facebook profile and this blog. OK, so I have a Pinterest account that I occasionally check out, too. But that’s it. I promise.
I’ve been blogging for over a year, but I’m still not used to this concept that my writing has an audience. What’s even more weird is that I can’t really pinpoint my audience. When I write a post, who am I writing to?
Sometimes I’m writing directly to teens. I know I have a lot of teenage followers and readers. Some of them are my most prolific “likers” and “commenters.” They take my words and participate with them, just like my students would in a classroom. I love this interaction. I thrive on it, just like I thrive on the give-and-take of real life teaching. Teenagers are at the heart of my professional passion, why I consider my career so much more than just a way to make money. In teenagers, I have an opportunity to make a difference, and that drives me more than anything else. So I write to the teens. I believe in them and their potential, intelligence, and strength. I know some will ignore my words, but some will read them, appreciate them, and maybe even learn something from them. I love that.