Yet Another Teacher Blog?

Originally posted on December 15, 2010 at yoteach

I’ve been reluctant to start a blog like this. The Internet seems brimming with teachers who are also bloggers & I don’t know that I belong among them. There are those who write with passion & eloquence about how they love their students, about the magic that happens in their classrooms just because they care, about their evil, heartless principals & coworkers. Their posts read like montages of their hopeful smiles, tearful eyes, & bowed backs in dimly lit, sparsely decorated kitchens, where they sit alone & plan & plan & plan. “Gangsta’s Paradise,” of course, plays in the background.

Then there are the blogs of those who came through Teach for America & New York City Teaching Fellows (of which I am a lanyard-carrying member – Cohort 12 holla back). These bright young things tend toward two themes: the I Just Want to Help (If Only These Kids Would Let Me) blogs & the Funny/Appalling/Ridiculous Shit My Kids Write blogs. The latter category can easily be renamed “These Kids Are Dumb.”

But there are great teacher blogs, as well. I have been moved, inspired, encouraged, & entertained on the bleakest of days by some of the brilliant writers (who are teachers who are bloggers) lighting up the Internet. In fact, I think it’s those well-written teacher blogs that have kept me away. I’m intimidated, questioning the value of my voice. What can I have to say that isn’t being said already, & by better writers?

This goes against everything I believe as a teacher of writing – that everyone has a story to tell, that the ease & accessibility of self-publishing today must be taken advantage of, that perspective transforms a piece no matter how often it’s been told – but that’s my constant struggle. I have to struggle to take my own advice, as if it will work for everyone except me.

It was a trip to Disney World that turned me. No mouse ears for me, though.  I was there for the 2010 Annual Convention of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), a conference I refer to as “English Teacher Spring Break” & that my students dubbed “Ms. T WordNerd Fest 2010.” Yeah, they’re cute.  Anyway, at NCTE, I had the opportunity to hear from Peter Cunningham, a representative of the US Department of Education & Arne Duncan.  I won’t go into detail on that event right now, because I’d need days to organize my thoughts & stop myself from writing pages upon pages of rage (directed toward Duncan & co.) & awe (of the amazing teachers that refuse to be trampled by the stampede of anti-teacher policy & sentiment rampaging across America).  Suffice it to say, the anger that left me shaking & squeezing my hands into fists as I approached the microphone, along with the goosebumps raised by the stories of these wonderful educators, reinforced that same old song I serenade my students with: every voice, every story, matters.

I can’t promise that this blog will be of the moving, inspiring, encouraging, entertaining variety.  Neither can I guarantee that it won’t be the saccharine tales of a martyr or the “students r dum lol” type (but I can hope).  I’m just going to give myself a voice, & see if it rings true.