I wanted to use this blog to share the link to an earlier blog that fulfills one of my resolutions for the grand old year of 2014: my resolution to chronicle through a Year of Words. The resolution started out as a daily commitment to read and blog my reflections on something I was reading that day. It ended up being something slightly more sporadic and less defined than that, but, ultimately, I consider my resolution kept. The spirit of the resolution found its substance in my desire to develop and model a deep pursuit and love of reading in my own, daily life. I wanted to have an honest way to show my students how reading can be meaningfully integrated into our day-to-day.
This idea initially came to mind for me after reading Kelly Gallagher's book, Readicide: How Schools Are Killing Reading and What You Can Do About it. Gallagher values a genuine interest in and enjoyment of reading over many of the traditional ELA classroom pedagogical goals.
“To become a lifelong reader, one has to do a lot of varied and interesting reading.” ― Kelly Gallagher
He feels that one of the best ways he knows of to teach students about reading and writing is simply to model how he approaches those disciplines. This blog was my attempt to model active, interested reading for my students. I reflected on poems that connected with what I was going through that day, works I had written back in college, excerpts from books I was reading at the time, and a variety of other compositions that made their ways into my day. I strove to model real, critical thought on the texts, demonstrating confusion, ambiguity, uncertainty, personal enjoyment, and contextual research in response to different things I read.
Overall, I consider the blog to be a success and a resolution I am glad to have kept. I was able to share the blog with many of my students. We had some great conversations about why I wanted to undertake this resolution, what some of my experiences had been, and about some of the specific texts I had blogged about. In retrospect, I find that the following quote from psychiatrist Karl Menninger captures what I hoped to achieve in my Year of Words.
“What the teacher is, is more important than what he teaches.” ― Karl A. Menninger
I want to be a teacher who can model good practice with my unfiltered and organic life habits. I want to be a teacher who follows their own advice and isn't afraid to share that undertaking with her students. If I plan to tell students that it is worth their while to make room in their hectic and ever-shifting lives to read and write a wide variety of interesting and exciting things every day, I had better be able to say that I speak from my own experience.
So feel free to take a look (My Year of Words) ! This blog is, at points, a little old, outdated, and most definitely features some things that I would currently say differently; however, what fun is documenting your reading and critical thinking if not to go back and look at how much smarter you are now :) ?
While I see the Year of Words blog as a fun and overall positive experience, looking back on it, I definitely can identify many things that I would do differently. Primarily and unintentionally, my blog heavily privileges traditional, printed compositions. Just the title, "A Year of Words," sort of suggests that compositions that are not comprised of words are not necessarily worth interacting with critically. This blog was started well before I began my interest and study into multimodal compositions and texts. Despite the fact that many of my posts feature photography, oral presentations, or multimodal videos, my reflections on these works demonstrate no real thought on the role of digital writing or multi modality in modern day composition and reading which is, honestly, totally uncool of me.
On a secondary note, I think, despite my efforts to demonstrate genuine confusion in wrestling with different works, there were times where I sort of subconsciously made my confusion sound smarter than it was. It's still tough for me to let my students see me flounder or not know who an author is or not be totally sure what a reference means. This, again, is totally uncool. If I'm going to ask students to wrestle with uncertainty and to be comfortable with having unanswered questions in their reading, it's pretty important that I show them that even teachers do that kind of thing. My efforts at appearing almighty in my mastery over English Literature are helping absolutely no one.
I am 100% judging my 2014 self.