Saturday, July 11, 2015

Summer Time

In my end-of-the-year student evaluations, a student responded to my question of how I could improve for next year with, "Mrs. Fanning should blog more because her last post was in March." Late March, actually, but her comment was true. In early June, another student asked me why I didn't blog each week as they were required to do. In response to both of these students, I have lots of reasons why I don't write more often: grading, meetings, lesson planning, oh yeah, my family.  (Did I mention we are trying to sell our home?) During the school year, time is precious for any teacher. So as a writer/blogger, it is easy to push it aside as something that doesn't fit into my day that already doesn't have enough hours in it. 

And then summertime comes along, or as I like to call it summer time. This break from the hectic school schedule that allows educators the freedom to go at a slower pace, catch our breaths, and, hopefully, recharge before we begin again come September. During this time, I finally am able to immerse myself in the writing I am kept from all year (and reading for that matter). I begin summer by co-facilitating the Capital District Writing Project's Summer Institute (SI), a three-weeklong intensive inquiry into the teaching of writing. I write every day. And each day I tell myself that I will use some time to generate my long-awaited new blog post, and yet, two weeks have gone by and nothing. 

So here I sit outside writing on my in-laws' deck under cover of an umbrella on a gorgeous July Saturday, and I have finally the courage to write. And yes, I do mean courage. Blogging for me is terrifying. At the end of the day, it isn't my to-do list that keeps me from typing up a new post. But rather, it is the voice inside my head that asks, Who do you think you are? Who gives a damn what you think about teaching or education? Why is your classroom so interesting? It is the ever-popular roadblock of self-doubt that I believe any writer struggles with that keeps me from making the time to write.

So for today, I am telling that voice to shut up. I can write whenever I feel like it. Because if there is one thing you realize from participating at the SI (or are reminded of when you return as a facilitator), it is that to be a teacher of writing you need to write. Not necessarily for an audience, but that is a bonus, but to engage in the act and constantly remind yourself how hard it is. To never lose that feeling of what our students go through in our classrooms as we ask them to engage in the act of writing. I write because I know what it teaches me, how it enriches my teaching, and the joy it brings to me personally.

I am under no delusion that my writing needs to serve a greater purpose than that. For what remains of my summer time, I hope to continue on this path as I think on this past year and begin to imagine what the coming year will bring. I will write my way through it and to it.  Because when I let three months slip by without it, I know it is a missed opportunity to reflect and get down the story of my classroom and the vision of what my classroom could be. 

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