While I have often considered myself a fairly progressive teacher, I will admit this semester's focus on becoming a connected educator is leaving me feeling old and overwhelmed. As a parent, wife, friend, and teacher, I increasingly find myself feeling stretched too thin on all accounts, and the thought of reaching out and connecting more makes me wonder where the time and energy will come and what will have to be sacrificed (and for what gain?). I don't mean to be a naysayer on the use of social media and networking because I regularly search and find information I need in the moment, so I am well aware of the wealth of knowledge available. I think my search will be, as always, to try to find balance in the insanity.
In embracing the transparency of blogging, I want to share a couple of my deep fears and concerns about becoming "connected". First, I (hard to believe, I know) tend to be a bit more private than those a generation younger than I. I don't seek nor care about "likes" or followers or contacts. I have no interest in living my life publically online, and I was raised in a generation of modesty where posting a "look what I am doing" feels very uncomfortable. I also have a hard time believing that anyone outside my department really cares what I am doing in my room. Secondly, I believe in disconnecting, heresy as it is. I worry that all these twitter chats, social networks, and extensions will bleed over and into the precious time I carve out to spend with my family. As an educator who already brings her work home every night, finding this time has been a career-long struggle and I am not going to give it up readily. Lastly, it's all pretty overwhelming. Many years ago I regularly visited an English Ning, and I even collaborated with a teacher in Ohio, but, it became information overload, and I couldn't see a path through it all. Twitter still feels like an ADHD conversation where I still have to link out to seven different places just to find the full story (versus a 144 character "sound byte"), and sorting through other feeds and blogs just to find a few nuggets makes me question the time spent for the gain.
But, despite the concerns, reservations, and the hives I am developing in anxiety, I will go forward with an open mind. I ask my students to work outside of their comfort zone every day, and I must do the same. I ask them to take risks because I can see the end goal that they cannot, so I put my trust in Jen Hegna (@jenhegna) to lead me to a new understanding and appreciation. I go on because I cannot dismiss something I have not given a fair chance simply because I am uncomfortable. I believe in transforming education, in creating a better learning experience, and if this is a path to that end, I must go down it. In the end, I will work to find a balance, to leverage a tool in a way that is meaningful and manageable for me. Because, truly, isn't that the whole belief of education-to empower people to create meaning as they see fit.