Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Falling Off the Wagon...and Climbing Back On a (Slightly) Different One

I've been busy.

It's no excuse, but it's true. I've been working hard to publish a second book, QRevolution, which is available for preorder through Smashwords. I've been hosting live webinars every Tuesday and Thursday on technology tools for digital literacy, recording those webinars, and publishing them on my website. I've been creating the outline for my next book and developing ideas for three more books. I've been busy.

And yet...

One of my goals for this first year of being an author was IS to blog about the connections I make between all of the many things I read, view, and research and being a teacher. It's important that I maintain that goal, but as I look at my blog publishing, I haven't posted since September. Unacceptable!

So, in the spirit of cutting myself some slack and recognizing that I'm not perfect, I'm going to revise my goal and work to meet it. Instead of writing every day, I need to back off the blogging a bit. Since I'm already planning and presenting webinars on Tuesdays and Thursdays, I'll plan to blog every Monday and Wednesday with the option of adding Friday on weeks when I have something valuable to share.

How many times do we set goals and, when we get busy, fail to follow through? What happens to those goals? Sometimes we need to just forgive the fail and get back to them. Sometimes we need to reevaluate and alter them to better fit our schedule. In this case, blogging every day was too much. Since I didn't want to write nonsense, I had to find things to write about. I realized that I really only had two or three insightful connections every week, and I was forcing myself to find more. Not only did that make my writing feel forced, but I was spending time and energy on things that were distracting me from my other goals.

How can this help teachers? Ask yourself--how many times have you set goals that ended up being unreasonable, unattainable, or took up too much of our valuable time without returning that value to us in a sense of accomplishment?

Goals should make us feel successful when accomplished, not put upon to even consider doing. When your goals don't give back in a sense of satisfaction, it's time to think about why you're doing them. The same thing applies to teaching, in the biggest sense. You should feel that your teaching is fulfilling, satisfying, and gratifying. That doesn't mean it's not challenging or even frustrating at times. But your overall sense of accomplishment should outweigh any negatives.

If it doesn't, it's time to think about why you're doing it. It may be that you could use some new strategies or a different class or grade because you're bored, not intellectually challenged, or stuck in a rut. It may be that you are focusing too much on the negatives and failing to appreciate the positives, in which case you should step back and try to see your career from another perspective.

I know that I had a memorable moment in my last year of teaching. I just couldn't feel satisfied with my job--at all. Finally, I took a step back to figure out exactly what was keeping me feeling disgruntled. When I saw my teaching from my students' perspectives, I realized the issue--I didn't like the novel I was teaching from--at all. I didn't want to read it, talk about it, think about it. It was a novel chosen by another teacher and in the spirit of collegiality, I'd agreed to teach it. Nothing about the unit I'd created was inspired or even interesting. It had no "me" in it, and I just couldn't feel satisfied. Once I figured that out, I could fix the issue. 

Now, step that back even further. What satisfaction do your students get from what they are learning? Interesting, thoughtful,personally connected activities will satisfy most students. If they are dissatisfied, it might be that they can't find the "me" for themselves. Try discussions, opinion polls, anticipation guides, and forums to help students find the relevance of your teaching.

For more teaching ideas with technology, visit my website at

[It feels good to be back!]

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