I’m a huge NFL fan, and that stems from my love of my home town Chiefs and the way my family follows their trials and tribulations each year. The home opener at Arrowhead was last weekend and it was incredible. The B-2 Bomber’s shadow loomed overhead as a wave of red and yellow balloons cascaded before me and 80,000 cheering fans made their usual edit to the National Anthem, “…and the home of the CHIEFS!”. Perfect, euphoria.
The beginning of this year of teaching has felt quite similar for me. I’ve been through the fire–so to speak–for the past two years. Ever since I came (back) to Kansas City in 2010, I’ve been in transition. Two years, two jobs, and uncountable uncertainties have kept me away from a lot of what I love about teaching and learning. I’ve been inactive (in much pedagogical substance) on Twitter for a while, and my blog wound down, from the weekly journal of a new teacher, into a much more passive channeling of my Diigo annotated bookmarks (which I do think are worth sharing). The truth is, I miss my Personal Learning Network, my blog, and the regular interactions with caring and professional folks like you from around the world. I’m ready, as the Chief’s field read, to get “Back to Football”.
My blog has always been part teacher’s lounge confessional, part casual teacher inquiry, and part professional sieve; writing has always been a way to figure things out for me, especially teaching. I’ve been trying to rekindle those habits (digitally) for a while. Now, sitting in the student union at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, I find myself suddenly ready to blog again. There have been sparks–here and there–which I’m certain will start catching again soon.
I’ve always thought one of the best things about digital writing was how well it encouraged curiosity and wandering into new things. The tweets I read will lead to links about policy, practice, or to questions worth pondering. Curiosity by itself is a fine pet, but the pragmatist in me is what makes me blog; I’ve got to do something with my curious musings. I want each post to be marking a path somewhere and not just driving traffic, generating hits, or helping to accrue followers.
When I started my Master’s Degree, my Personal Learning Network provided an intellectual support group that went beyond my university peers and my teaching peers at school. The water cooler tweets paired with deeper dive blogs and chats were my third space to fully develop as a professional.
If the Web houses my digital home through my PLN, then The National Writing Project is most certainly my professional one. Through all the change since 2010, this organization and my local site here in Kansas City, has supported me in every way possible. If you value the kind of digital collaboration and conversation you find online through blogs, twitter, and Skype, you should really look into doing a Writing Project Summer Institute; it will change you and forever connect you (face-to-face) to innovative and caring educators you had no idea were just around the corner tinkering with amazing things.
With two great groups of people supporting me on either side, my PLN on one and the NWP on the other, I’m confident I can take on any challenge the teaching life brings my way.
New challenges this year: 6th grade classes (4 of them), a curriculum focused solely on Writing (yes!), and a PhD.
Needless to say, I’ll have plenty to write about, so I’d better get started.