It has been too long since my last post. As the weeks and months ticked by and I willingly neglected my blog, I began to feel like I had failed somehow. I am positive that this is something that happens with all bloggers. And so, here I am. Dusting myself off. Hopping back into that saddle.
Much like me, I allowed my students to fall behind with their blogs. My last assigned post was at the start of the New Year. I finally assigned another one due next Friday. I told them we needed to revive their blogs, which had lay dormant for too long. Many students nodded in agreement. Some I could tell were hoping that I had simply forgotten about them.
It made me wonder though if it is possible to get students to take ownership of their blogs and write without the need for due dates. I had from the start of this year made it clear that I was not responsible for what they wrote about. My mantra had always been, You are the boss of your blog. I never once slipped and asked them to write a post related to something in class. I only encouraged them, if they were stuck about what to write about, to use their writer's notebook for ideas or even to lift an entry out of there to use for a blog post. A safety net of sorts.
As I announced yesterday though that a new post would be due next week, I walked over to one student who proudly announced he had already written one. Really? He showed me that he had posted before a due date was announced. I excitedly looked, and before I noticed the date stamp read January 24, asked how many times he had posted since our last due date. "Just once," he explained, "I was trying to stay ahead of when one might be due." I told him that was great and walked away a bit deflated.
I know that for a blogger to truly be engaged it is important for the writing to serve a particular need for the writer. When a teacher tells a student they must maintain a blog, well, then it really isn't as authentic of an experience. I shouldn't be disappointed that none of my students continued blogging without my say so. It is, after all, probably just another school assignment to them. And as with my own blog, which I don't think I started out of a particular need but rather to serve as a role model for my students, I, too, didn't maintain.
All of this doesn't make me want to abandon blogging . . . my own or my students. I know that it is the act of writing our blogs that are important. Ours simply serve a different purpose, a different need. For my kids, it is another space to practice their writing, to develop their voice, to explore what is important to them. For me as well, I am able to engage in the practice of writing, figure out who I am as a writer and a teacher, and reflect on the work I do as an educator.
So while our blogging hiatus has left me with a tinge of guilt, it has also taught me again something about why I started with it in the first place. I feel like we are like someone who stops exercising for a few months and realizes they have to start up again. And one we do, I know we will be glad we did.