I have been blogging regularly for nearly 14 years now, and until recently, I’ve never had a hiatus or break in blogging. Even when my mother was terminally ill, even when I was transitioning from the library back to the classroom, and even during times when so many fantastic things were happening in my library or classroom that I could barely keep my head above water…I blogged and reflected. My blog has first and foremost been my space for me—to think and reflect, and it that has helped others, that is icing on the cake.
Though the pandemic has been underway for a year now, I really began to feel the stress of it all and trying to teach face to face in the midst of it in January. In addition, I have been going deep with writing mini-units with my 8th graders, and I have just been too tired at the end of the day to write and share all the things we’ve been doing with you. I have never felt the teacher tired feeling like I have this year, and I know many of you can relate whether you are teaching virtually, face to face, or some kind of crazy hybrid model.
In addition, the cost of maintaining my current space quota has become a bit ridiculous in the last few months; while WordPress was very reasonable with their pricing for years, they have been jacking up price plans for the last two years now at a rate that is not terribly appealing to my budget. Because I just could not justify paying what they charging for my humble plan, I terminated it, and now I’m out of space and cannot incorporate any multimedia into my posts. At some point, I will probably bite the bullet and pay the ransom to resume my site because I’ve invested so much time and care into it, but it pains me to do so.
What I HAVE been doing is posting to my Instagram stories. Sometimes those can tell the story of learning and show you in ways that I can’t quite capture on the blog. I love reading posts from other educators on their blogs because I like the DETAILS, but I also love the immediacy and excitement of those glimpses I get into classrooms or people’s thinking through Instagram stories. The downside to Instagram stories is that they disappear after 24 hours unless someone curates highlights and collections of those stories; even if they do, there is no way to search and organize them (my inner librarian talking to you here!).
WordPress now has a new stories feature, but it looks like it is not yet available on the Apple app yet for WordPress. When it is available, I do want to give it a try.
In addition to my ever burgeoning appreciation for the value of time, I have also been thinking about how finite any given web-hosting or publishing space is now and has been for the last few years. So many of my favorite Web 2.0 tools have come and gone; one that I especially miss even though it was not that robust is Wikispaces because my students used it for portfolios. Now that archive is gone forever though I suppose a determined person could probably find an archive hosted somewhere. I look at how much I have published with WordPress and worry what would happen to it if they went of business; I am starting to think about what is a feasible and permanent way to archive all I have written over the last 14 years. I am also thinking about Plan B for archiving all my photos on my personal Flickr account as well as that I still have for the The Unquiet Library.
The fleeting nature of content publishing as well as questions of ownership have also weighed heavily on my mind in the last few years as all of the prolific content I created as a librarian on LibGuides sites has either been wiped out by those who followed me, lost because a school decided to discontinue using LibGuides, or is still out there but the credit for it is given to someone else because I’m not a user in the system anymore, and with LibGuides, your work now defaults the credit to an active user.
These things might not matter to some, but they do to me because it’s a living personal and professional history that captures moments in time you can never get back but that you can relive and appreciate through these digital histories. I’m an archivist at heart, and if you’ve ever had the privilege to do any archival research or work with a phenomenal archivist like I did, then you have a deeper appreciation for the stories that live through photographs, documents, and now web-based platforms. So much of our world is now operating in a 24/7 sort of cycle, and it seems like very few people have any regard for dwelling in things—past or present—very deeply.
Like many of you, I’m living in a time of uncertainty. The positive aspect is that uncertainty can disrupt our lives and make room for better things to come forth. On the flip side, this ambiguity and uncertainty in life—both personal and professional—creates tremendous anxiety and at least for me, has been a huge energy drain. In the past, I would feel pretty fearless about many major life changes because they had always worked out successfully. In recent years, that has not been the case, and the choices/options don’t seem as unlimited as they once did. I’m also not sure that being transparent and reflective in your work carries much weight, respect, or meaning outside of yourself these days.
Life also looks a little different when you are nearing the end of your current career—I could retire from public schools in Georgia in 18 months if I choose to do so—and you realize the choices and decisions you make now carry much more weight and will have more long term consequences as opposed to when you are in your 20s and 30s. Of course, it is exciting to contemplate new chapters of life whether you continue on your current path or decide to go in a totally different direction when time and opportunity present themselves.
This was not a post I had planned to write today; I’ve been receiving inquiries via email and social media lately as to why I haven’t blogged in months, so I felt it would be appropriate to address that. Obviously, I have a lot weighing on my mind and heart these days. Maybe you are wrestling with some of these issues and thoughts as well. There is much I don’t know moving ahead in life, but in the last year, what I don’t want has crystallized for me, and I’m keeping that at the center as I think about short term and long term choices. Sometimes it is difficult to maintain the optimism I felt just even five or ten years ago, but I try to maintain faith that all things work transpire for a purpose.
This last year has been difficult for everyone, and I know for me, the anxiety I’ve felt my for my personal safety and that of my father have been a huge energy suck. I am thankful spring is upon us and that my best coping strategies—gardening, relaxing on my porch, bird-watching, and spending time outside with my dog—can be enjoyed again as longer and lighter days come upon us; I am also incredibly thankful to have received both of my Covid-19 vaccine shots. I hope that as we look forward, we can learn and grow from what we have experienced in this last year and forge a new path to a better and brighter day. If you are feeling any of the same struggles I am, I hope it helps to know you are not alone and that sometimes sharing that burden–even if you are introverted like me—can be a meaningful way to exhale and gain perspective.
Whether here or in some other space, I hope to resume writing and share what it has been like teaching in the pandemic in recent months in my little corner of the world and how I’ve adjusted to try and help my students at their point of need. In the meantime, take care of yourselves and take things a day at a time without letting yourself become adrift in the past or the what-ifs of the future. Lastly, I leave you a poem that has given me great solace in the last year even on the most difficult days; I hope you draw comfort and strength from it as well.