Writing: Practicing What I Teach

I spent the greater part of my first year in a new teaching role, writing, as I usually do, in a personal journal.  Most nights it was either pen to paper (I’m an avid collector of stationery and writing journals), or fingers to a keyboard (I can type faster than I can think…well…almost).  Either way, there are endless pages in my possession that trace my thinking and learning.  Until recently, I viewed all of my writing as just that…personal.  Although I would argue that some writing should remain for me, and only me, the reflections I have documented about my role as a ‘Student Work Study Teacher’ would have had a greater impact on my learning if it had been made visible to a larger audience.

Hindsight…

Some of the most beautiful conversations I can recall with students are about writing…why we write, forms that we use, and how, and with whom we share the beauty (and sometimes pain) of the written word.  Perhaps I have thought too long about naming my purpose and audience rather than letting it unfold through the writing itself.

I can think of an endless list of reasons for not sharing my writing in a public forum, but all can be connected to one word: fear.

Fear of judgment.

Fear of hesitation.

Fear of offending.

Fear of misunderstanding.

Fear of being misunderstood.

One of the books I read over the summer, ‘It’s Complicated’ by Danah Boyd, focuses on ‘networked teens’ (too many talking points that would exhaust my first attempt at blogging).  While reading, I often thought about my own fears, as I continue to navigate an online social world.

“New innovations will introduce new challenges, as people try to reimagine privacy, assert their sense of identity, and renegotiate everyday social dynamics.”

I wondered….how could I reimagine my writing in a reimagined world?

A friend recently shared, so eloquently, so poignantly, the challenge of representing thoughts in written form.  “It would be considered a miracle if we could ever fully express our thoughts in writing.”  Poetic justice.  His statement was liberating.  It grounded me.  It put my ego in check.  It reminded me to practice what I teach.

It’s definitely complicated…

Sometimes you just need to begin to see where the words take you.