It's a dream that involves the long view. One that looks at fear in the face today. Not to fight it or deny it. Not to be ruled or be defined by it. Instead, acknowledge its existence and use it to make smart and creative decisions from the parts that make fear healthy. In fact, the dream involves a decision and work toward unlearning the default position of fearing the unknown. To expect it (the fear), deal with it, use it to our advantage. Not be paralyzed by it. In the long view, you/we still take risks and go out on a limb even if you/we are afraid. Because past the fear are epiphanies, redemption, growth, expression, thinking, new learning and perhaps, deeper understanding. Beyond the fear is a chance to get to know the unknown in an intimate, non-threatening, healthy way.
Just like the world wide web.
Yup. The internet can appear like an intimidating, public black hole of judgement. And it can be mind numbing and scary. But it doesn't have to be that way. I mean, we do need to be careful while we traverse its virtual halls. We need to think about what we say, do and write when we represent ourselves online. We need to have a civilized way of being. We need to know how to create, build, share, love, collaborate and connect and be ourselves as best we can, in the best way we know how. Which is not so different from how we need to work on that in our physical spaces and material lives. Think UWCSEA profile, right? To be the best people we can be on and off line. It's all part of digital citizenship.
All of it is real.
But to NOT engage with the conversations, ideas, connect with others' and see how their thoughts help yours and vice versa, not to be part of this sharing culture because it's scary...well, now, that's scary.
Like I said, we have a dream and visually, through this info-graphic, the dream (long view) looks like this...
Which brings me to a point...the blogging. :) I know I have been quiet about it for awhile. And I did that on purpose. I wanted you to know how serious I was about letting you take it where you will. That even if I love assigning things for class on it, that it was YOUR space. A space you could define, design and furnish as your possible online home that goes beyond English class. That the stuff we assign there from time to time was just a small part of it.
I know, it's been a complicated process. The creation of the spaces, the encouraging, the building, the things we posted as teachers, to the silence, to the intensity, to the lulls, to the waiting, to the figuring it out. After much reflection, Mr. R and I re-realized that it's really about this dream and not really about the blogging. To us, as your teachers, it is the creation of opportunities for you guys to be part of an education that's active, relevant, real world, effective, hands-on, networked, innovative, personal and transformative. That's it. That's what the blogs are for, in a nutshell, in the big picture, in the final analysis.
Anyway, I noticed (with my classes) and you can also read this post by Mr. R to see what his kids think about writing/sharing for and to a wider audience, that many of you have embraced the space; invested in it like precious real estate, claiming it as a permanent address. I've seen it as your primary go-to url on your Gmail, Instagram and Twitter accounts. I see that you use it because it's a space you are comfortable in. Others are using it as a summer home, occasionally spending time to express this or that when inspiration hits. Then taking weeks off at a time to do other things like log your reading (just kidding; but not really) or focusing on schoolwork that needs your undivided attention because those tasks are marked and assessed, unlike the blogs. Then there's the bunch of you who want to write or share but don't know where to start or maybe need more structure or prompting from us (nothing wrong with that), some who want to write but don't have time, some who have a gazillion drafts of interesting posts but are too scared to 'put it out there' because of the dark voices in your head that tell you they are not good enough (um, please cast those thoughts away). And then some who will use it and only use it when things are assigned, some who use it to improve writing, refine thinking, share thoughts you weren't able to at the table, some who thought it was supposed to be a certain way (like a space purely for bearing your heart and soul and things that make you vulnerable - um, where did that come from?), some who just want to read others' stuff but are not ready to write, some who hate it, and finally, some who are still figuring it out what it's for.
And really, all of that is fine.
Wherever you are in this blogging business/connected learning spectrum, we honor it. Respect it. See it.
We hear you.
We understand that these spaces of trust take time. That the dream, needs to have a long view. That it has to have a lot of people who support it. An authentic community that believes in and won't give up on it. An acceptance that it's a complicated process of pushing and pulling and leaving things alone sometimes. That we are all at different spots and stages in the journey toward connected learning. And whatever spot is an okay spot to be in.
I hope you hear us and believe us too.
So, after all that 'research' and reflecting and reassessing and thinking and talking about it all with Mr. R, we thought it was important to keep on keeping on. To softly encourage some, to leave some people alone, to build trust, to create some structure for others, to read and comment consistently on those blogs that are already permanent homes and well, to continue to provide opportunities for the dream to come true for everyone and in different ways. That's what we can do.
So, for now, here is a first step for us to differentiate and respect how you have chosen to respond to this online space.
Are you a regular blogger who enjoys reading and writing posts, but feel that you are limited because there are only three or four people in your class who actively blog? Do you wish you knew who the other bloggers are? The ones in other classes? Well, we have an idea...
We discovered that there is an existing community of bloggers amidst you and by subscribing to Blogging Beyond Class from Mr. R's class and this bundle, Blogging Begets Blogging you can can see who these students are across our classes. Simply click on subscribe and your RSS feed will be full of posts from students who have taken blogging in and beyond English class. You might find your name on that list, you might not. The only criteria we had was to see who blogged beyond English class at one point or another...and look like they are comfortable with sharing more. Correct us if we are wrong, okay.
Oh and you do not have to be a blogger yourself to subscribe. Maybe you just want to see what people are sharing for now.
And, the second step -- wondering how you can be added to the list? Simple:
Start blogging! Read, write, comment, share, connect!
We'll be here either way.
So, thoughts? Would love to hear from you. Comments welcome below, as always.
Have a great Sunday.