Sometimes I think to myself, after perhaps a very long and unsuccessful day of teaching, I wish I were a film maker or television producer because then I could simply say, “meh, I’ll fix it in post.” Meaning of course that I wish I could go back and edit, tweak, cut, and enhance my lessons, actions, and reactions to be more suitable. What I really should be thinking, I realized, is “meh, I’ll fix it AND post.” Meaning, that I should just write about what went wrong and reflect! Teachers don’t have a post-production phase and then a studio. We don’t have a special multi-colored key board to tune up and down the pitches of our practice, but we do have our words.
I can’t imagine how much differently this year would be turning out without this blog. I’ve come here to write often with a full heart overflowing with joy, other times with a heavy one weighed down with frustration. At the risk of sounding like a small child talking to his imaginary friend or diary, I think I need this blog; I can tell it anything. Then again, unlike a journal locked away in a drawer or a made-up companion, this blog is connected to something bigger than myself. I get to speak here and be heard. I can listen for dissension, affirmation, and comments that add to my understanding of what I’m encountering in teaching.
Unlike what I learned from the theories in my education classes and the experiences I’ve had in the classroom, reflective writing provides me with a chance to process information. Without time to write, I’m left to sort out the ideas in my head, and they don’t last long up there. When I write, my ideas take form on the page (usually the screen though) before me and I can subtly choose what I want to store in my longer term memory. I like to think of my brain as a computer that has representative parts like the memory I mentioned.
Let’s say my eyes are like a web browser that allows me to take in vast quantities of information constantly from many sources. I get to store some of the unprocessed information in my temporary memory (my RAM) and only when I decide that I want to download some of it, does it go to longer term memory (my hard drive disk). You’re all familiar with how computers work I’m assuming, it’s nice to have a bunch of web browser tabs open and be “reading” lots of stuff at once, but you never really learn it until you save it and apply it later. It’s not until you make that hard drive disk needle write to the platter, orienting all those zeros and ones, that there is a chance for storing what you experience.
It’s easy for me to get lost in analogies, especially technology ones, but I always come back to this idea. If I am browsing browsing browsing all the time and never taking the time to process it in writing, then am I spending my time wisely? I have to remind myself to stop and write, because if I don’t, then my temporary memory will get full and I’ll crash.