If It’s Hard for Me…

Only one post into my blog and I can already say I’ve learned something.

I worked on my blog for about two weeks before finally hitting the publish key. Not steadily, mind you, but off and on, tweaking this and that. I knew what I wanted to write about the moment I started working on it, but I was concerned with what to call my blog, how it should look, what picture I should use, who should be in the blogroll, how best to link to sites, how to install a badge, you get the idea.

The point is I had something to say, but I took every opportunity not to put it out there. I faffed around acting like I was making important decisions when, I was just wasting time. I focused on the unimportant details so I wouldn’t have to take the risk of putting my thoughts out there…after all, someone may not like them.

And I’m a good writer.

How hard it is for students to do this in my class? Especially students who feel they aren’t good writers. Especially for the kids who have something intensely personal to say and don’t have the language yet to know how to say it. Especially for students who have been in a pull-out or remedial class and fed into the idea that even if they did have something interesting to say, they couldn’t possibly be expected to say it correctly.

I have seen these kids in my room. They are the ones who will draw and erase the circles and lines on their page until their web is graphically perfect, but never actually put anything in it. They are the ones who throw out ten sheets of paper in one class, because they can’t get their opening sentence just right and are in a constant state of starting over. They are the ones who sharpen their pencil down to a nub only to have it break again and again.

These avoiders bug me. Or I should say bugged me. I admit, while sometimes I have been merciful, other times I have become frustrated and said things like, “just write something…anything.” But here I am, one of them. Just writing something isn’t always easy not because of ability, but because of emotions. They aren’t refusing to work; they are refusing to take a risk. If I have something important to say, and others don’t find it important, what does that say about me?

If I, as a person confident in my writing, can’t put something out their without stress, without worry, how can I expect my students to?

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10 Comments

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10 responses to “If It’s Hard for Me…

  1. The first time I know of a teacher who admits that. To this I take off my hat for you and I *claps* for you too.

    I know I’m not a good writer, writing has never been my thing, I’m a number and science person. That’s why I started my blog, worth a try right? I may not become a better writter, but at least I’m happy that I’m putting my thoughts out there. I’m trying =).

    Thank you for your wonderful post!

    -Casper

  2. You make a really good point about the risk involved with both writing and publishing. I think another good question is: how can we help our students overcome their fears? BTW, I’ve spent hours playing around with the set-up and trying to figure out all of the features of my blog. I’m still not happy with it, but I have definitely found that it is a great way to procrastinate.

  3. Dear Teacher In Transition – Keep up the struggle.

    There are times I experience a great deal of anxiety whenever I think about tweeting, let along blogging. When that happens, I try to set for myself a discrete audience – a trusted colleague, a suppoortive member of my extended learning community out there on the Net. Managing my perception of audience helps assuage my self-consciousness.

    I think sometime we adults, parents, NBCTs live in a spread out and atomized world looking for the big picture, the day all benchmarks are met – in our minds and in reality – and so we have a hard time picking out a trusted face in the crowd of the Web.

    I try to teach students to start writing for an audience they know – friends, mostly – and then teach widening the audience as a revision skill after positive feedback from their chosen audiences.

    Keep sharing – maybe the teacher and communicator you want to be is right here in the struggle.

  4. mrsfollis2

    I think that was a great post! So true how intimidating it can be to put stuff “out there”. For me, while I was reading, though, I kept thinking about what it means for us and students in terms of audience. When you are writing a paper just to finish it and you know that only the teacher will see it, sometimes… we slack. They slack. Sometimes they don’t even bother to click spell check. Sad.

    But when students are putting their work out there for peers and maybe even beyond, maybe they will care about what they say and how they say it. The flip side is that having an authentic audience helps us do better work.

    I, too, sometimes tell my kids to write something-anything. but I remind them that it’s because staring at a blank page is the hardest thing to do. Even if it’s not your best work, having something mediocre written can always be edited.

    Anyway, I’m on a tangent now. Thanks for sharing! I’m enjoying your blog!
    -Candace

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