What a whirlwind of a summer! In the last few months, I’ve driven a few thousand miles and flown a few thousand more. I kayaked under a full moon and listened for the “shot heard round the world.” I watched a water moccasin climb a creek bank and ate lobster before watching fireworks explode over a northeastern lake for almost three solid hours. And now, I prepare to board another plane – to Buenos Aires. I still say I’ll believe it when I’m on the plane, because international travel is a bit too complicated for my life and feels like something other people do and not me (case in point: my daughter currently has a fever and my son has pneumonia). But there it is: for our tenth anniversary, my husband is taking me to fulfill a lifelong dream of seeing Iguazú Falls.
Also let me tell you what I didn’t do this summer.
You know I didn’t blog but also (almost) didn’t work on blog drafts at all. It was on my to-do list, but it didn’t get done.
I didn’t conduct a workshop or conference or attend one, though I caught some helpful reflection on CI workshops from Courtney, Maris, and Laura. I didn’t follow one on social media. I didn’t receive a single Bloglovin’ update, but I did read a few blogs that arrive in my email or were shared in the brief moments I had to be on Facebook for work.
I didn’t receive Twitter notifications or Facebook notifications. I didn’t compose a single (personal) tweet or Facebook update – which means I didn’t have an argument, watch a dramatic exchange, cry over a misunderstanding, or have to apologize for 140 hastily composed characters that didn’t come across as intended.
Through it all, I realized something very, very important that’s been creeping in the back of my mind, in a rather terrifying way, for quite some time:
I’m not the blogger I used to be. I’m not the teacher I used to be. And the primary reason is that I’m not the person I used to be. I’ve been trying the last few years to fit a new round peg into an old square hole, to squeeze my new identity into my old boxes, and it’s been a cancer I couldn’t even identify.
My 2008 self sat on a couch in a world where I could gush to my husband over all the discoveries I was making in my classroom but who gushed on the internet? What was Twitter? Who but college students used Facebook? What was a blog, anyway? My husband knew and he said, “Hey, you should start one.” And so we did.
My 2017 self has three young children who need me to drive to the barn, doctor visits, the zoo, park, swimming pool, gymnastics. My new self plays the piano at church and trains teachers to teach ESL to refugees in our city. My new self manages the finances and sometimes more for a mother with dementia. One day this summer, on a trip to Texas to help my sister-in-law after the birth of her third baby, I got up and prepared breakfast for 7, organized 3 loads of laundry, got dinner in the oven, changed my mother’s wet bed sheets and gave her a shower, and got my son out the door to take him to urgent care to find out he had pneumonia (and to find out on the way that our rental car had been invaded by ants).
My 2017 self looks back on nearly seven years of worldwide professional collaboration through #Langchat and follows scores of language teacher blogs on Bloglovin’ – there are new ones every day, it seems. I get regular updates from the Ñandutí listserv, the ACTFL Teacher Development SIG, and the CASLS InterCom.
And so, I’m back, but only sort of. After my two months off of social media and all the bully culture, compare-yourself-to-everyone mentality it fosters, I’m feeling pretty reluctant to start back. In fact, I’ve decided that one change I’m making is I’m going to leave my Bloglovin’ notifications off and unfollow every language teaching site I have on my Facebook, because the best stuff comes through on the InterCom and Maris’s Brillante Viernes. Also, after FLANC and ACTFL in October and November, I won’t be attending any workshops until September 2018.
It’s not the world it was in 2008. Now there are hundreds of language teacher voices offering you whatever it is you’re looking for on the internet. With a little discernment, you’ll find a treasure trove of help and ideas and support, if you haven’t already. I wish you well!
But that doesn’t mean I quit! Quickly, here are a few things I do know I have planned for this year, in case my sharing can help you:
- A couple of new charts you can use as handouts or for a bulletin board to show the highest-frequency words in Spanish, categorized, with English translations, and their actual frequency.
- A reflection on the question of using learner resources vs. authentic resources, followed by…
- A return to #AuthresAugust where I’ll share with you my favorite #authres blog, YouTube channel, and the episode of Radio Ambulante I cannot wait to develop into a full-blown Spanish 4 / AP unit.
- At long last, my performance assessment rubric updated in a version for students reaching Intermediate Mid.
- Also at long last, I expect to actually complete my ebook for Esperanza renace this year. (In the meantime, you can check out my previous ebook reader guides for Cajas de cartón and La ciudad de las bestias.)
Everyone from Staples to the principal is telling you this, and I’ll join the voices: Welcome back!