Why I gave up Facebook

One day, it all became too much.

I think on the continuum of Facebook users, I’m closer to the “I-only-look-at-Facebook-when-I-need-toilet-reading,” instead of the “This-is-what-I-ate-for-breakfast” user.

But one day, even my infrequent Facebook use became too much.

All I saw on my news feed were stories about how the state of education is irreparable, infighting among educators who are split along party lines, and all-around complaining. I’m sure I contributed my fair share to these negative voices.

In fact, only months earlier I spoke to my educator-mentor, a former professor, who asked me if I even liked teaching, after she saw my posts for the past year or so. I was absolutely floored. I defended myself by explaining that I loved my students but I hated the system. But then I realized that maybe those two things became inextricable, as I sometimes struggled to maintain a positive attitude in my classroom because of my involvement and worry over issues in the system.

But after a colleague from a different content area posted an article which ridiculed the work high school English teachers do, which was written by a young college professor, I decided enough was enough. My feelings were hurt and I already struggle with confidence in my teaching (and in all things, really). And I decided enough is enough. I knew that if I didn’t quit Facebook, at least for the summer, that I may not make it back to school in May. I knew that I needed a way to energize myself, instead of weighing myself down.

So on June 20th, I quit Facebook. Which, of course, I announced on Facebook. And then after a couple weeks hiatus, I checked to see what people had to say about my announcement. But I’ve only been on a total of three times since then. And my life is all the better for it. I deleted the app from my phone and now I find myself using my phone much less.

I’m now engaged in much more productive and inspiring networking with teachers around the world, on Twitter.  I find myself cataloging new things to try in my class next year and asking more questions.

Twitter is inspiring me to get back to what I love most about teaching, asking questions. And maybe that’s why I felt so burdened by the system. I felt like my questions about teaching and student growth no longer mattered, in a system that prizes one-dimensional test data. And now that I’ve chosen to silence voices via Facebook, those things don’t matter as much anymore. And I feel myself getting excited about returning to school again.

But as a leader in my school, I feel as if I am walking a fine line. I still need to be informed about these issues, in order to properly educate the teachers in my department, but I don’t want to become entrenched in the negativity anymore.

How can we, as teacher-leaders, walk this line without falling?

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Stayin’ alive! Stayin’ alive! Stayin’ alive!

Ah! ah! ah! ah! Stayin’ aliiiiiiiiiiive!

 

I bet you were singing that Bee Gees tune in your head!

And I’m staying alive! I made it through the school year in one piece. But maybe a little more burned out than I first realized.

My last post was in MARCH! About Ash Wednesday and giving things up for lent and procrastinating with distractors such as The Real Housewives of (anywhere in the country), trashy TV.

The blog nagged at me, after I lost momentum in March (apparently). But I spent all of my free time writing. Just not on the blog. Or on the novel/short story I’d like to someday begin writing. But on my National Boards for English Language Arts, Adolescence and Young Adulthood.

Holy crap. That was a lot of writing. And a lot of editing. And a lot of videoing myself teaching. And a lot of editing my videos of myself teaching. And a lot of writing about my videos of me teaching. And Holy crap. It was a lot.

But I submitted two days before it was due. And I took my written exam last Friday, before I left for our district’s last AVID Summer Institute.

I think I passed. I sure hope I passed. But I won’t know for sure until they release the scores in November. 5 months from now!

But I promise I won’t wait that long to post again.

I wish I really had written more last year. We did some amazing things at school and in class. Last year was my first year as Bilingual Co-Coordinator at school and the first year we had a PD committee, which I also sat on.  And those two things were certainly educational experiences and I wish I’d captured some of that. But nonetheless, there will be plenty to write about again this year!

I’m teaching AP Literature and Composition again at the 12th grade and I’ll also teach the AVID elective at 9th grade for the first time! This is the first time since I started teaching that I won’t have an English 11 class. It’s almost bittersweet. I love the curriculum and I’ll miss it but it seems like the last few years have largely focused on test preparation for the myriad standardized tests required for graduation. I feel like even if I had to struggle with test prep, I’ve tried to provide my English 11 students with enough strategies that they can be successful in 12th grade and hopefully college.

And this is the big question that I’m working out now: What level/strategies do my AP Lit and Comp students need to be successful in college?

In the past, I feel like I’ve focused more on content and composition, that I have on specific, applicable, reading and writing strategies. And I think that was a mistake. Yet, many of them are already efficient readers and writers. I just need to up the ante, so to speak.

I’m looking forward to starting the new school year and writing about the new school year. But first, I’ll be sure to finish and enjoy my summer vacation!

Ash Wednesday

I’ve decided to write a personal post.  About Ash Wednesday. I’m sitting at my dining room table, looking longly across the room at the cosy couch that I’ve given up for Lent and that’s all I can think about.

The couch.

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By the way, this picture is entirely staged.  I had to clear the table off before I took this snapshot.  Our table is the “drop zone” for everything that enters our house, it seems.

But the days leading up to Ash Wednesday, I tried to figure out what I would give up this year.   And after my third straight hour of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills (my guiltiest, guilty pleasure) it dawned on me.  The TV and even more, my couch.

So I decided on Wednesday morning, on my way to school, that this is what I would give up.  And in its place I would add more prayer, and use my time more wisely so that I’m not President of the Procrastination Nation.

So all day I fasted, like I should.  And after getting up at 5 am that morning to do Zumba in my living room, and working like a madwoman all day, I thought I would pass out during mass, as I shut my eyes during prayer.  But I survived and received the blessing and reminder of our mortality in the ashes.

But after Mass, Hubbs and I went to dinner and we started talking about what we would give up for Lent.  And I joked that since my stomach really hurt after fasting all day, that I would give up fasting.  He looked surprised.  And then started to list all of the food he had eaten that day and said, “It would have been nice to have a little reminder that I should’ve fasted.”  To which I replied, “To each his own.”  And this seemed to make sense.  Not all Catholics fast.

But then I started thinking.  And I realized (after the gears in my head started to grease up with the wrap I was eating for dinner) that it really is my responsibility to remind him of these things.  Being still new to the Catholic church, it’s a lot to keep straight.

And I remembered the analogy our priest made at our wedding to a marriage being like climbing up a steep hill; in life, we will sometimes walk beside, drag behind, or push ahead our significant other.  And in this case, I probably should have reminded Hubbs to fast.

Can blogs have an identity crisis?

I feel as if this blog already has an identity crisis, in its early development stages.  And here’s my question, is a blog just born knowing if it’s personal or professional?  And how can you tell?   Are there signs?

Like today, I just want to write about Ash Wednesday and my husband.  But that’s not a professional topic.  So should I include that or just buy one of those fuzzy pink journals with a lock on it, like I had in middle school and scribbled all sorts of silly stuff.

Really?  Can someone tell me.

Procrastination Nation

The Avett Brothers are one of my favorite bands.  Most of their music (except the weird stuff they sprinkle in here and there) take me back to my time at UNC Chapel Hill, listening to them at Cat’s Cradle, the Great Hall, and various festivals and shows ‘round the state.

And as I’m writing this, I can’t but help think of one of their lyrics:

I haven’t finished a thing since I started my life,

Don’t feel much like starting now.

I couldn’t find a decent video but I suggest you listen to that dang song.  His voice is so low and mournful at the start.

And by searching for the song in vain, writing this post, dreaming up one hundred other things I’d like to be doing, RIGHT NOW, I’m procrastinating.  I’m not finishing my grading and instead I choose to tell myself I’m really just taking a break from Extreme Grading.  Because I need one.  Because I deserve one.

But what I really need to do is change my thinking about my thinking, as I should, according to this College Humor video about procrastination (which I cannot for the life of me directly embed) that I stumbled upon somewhere on the internets, while I was undoubtedly procrastinating.  (But should I really be following advice from College Humor?)

And after watching,  I realized that it’s a daily, hourly struggle to overcome my present bias.  I need to think of what Future Me will want (to hang out with friends this weekend), instead of what Now Me thinks it wants (to watch 100 straight hours of Real Housewives).

And Geez, that’s hard.

So, I’ve started integrating two things into my regular schedule.  The first is to make my weekly to do list to ensure I get everything done that I need to.  And people, let me tell you in my infinite martyrdom, it’s a lot! I am the Language Arts department chair and co-cordinate the Dual Language program at school, in addition to teaching AP and regular English classes.

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Making this weekly list has really helped.  I check it every day.  I mark my meetings each day, deadlines I may have, assignments I’m teaching, and assignments I’m collecting.  Then I make a list of all the materials I need to print and copy in order to get these things done.

But I also need to daily remind Future Me to kick Now Me’s butt. Because after I get all of the million-an-one other things done, it’s really easy to tell myself, “You’ve worked really hard. Grade tomorrow night instead.” So to squash these Now Me voices, I plan for the fun I want to have in the weekend with Future Me, in an attempt to motivate Now Me throughout the week. (This is starting to sound as if I have a bit of a personality disorder.) So I also make this calendar, emphasizing the weekend and I hang it up in front of my desk all week long:

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This is how I kick Now Me into gear; I illustrate the work I’ll need to do throughout the week, in order to get to the weekend with less grading, on a separate and less daunting calendar.

You see, I teach AP literature and WOAH that is a lot of grading throughout the week.  A lot.

And I’m not complaining because frankly I could just schedule fewer essays, to the detriment of my AP and regular students.  But in truth, I like grading.  I like to see what my students can do with the tools and texts I give them.

They’re brilliant!

And please excuse Now Me, as I need to get back to grading so that Future Me can have some fun this weekend!

Hubbs and I joined a monthly Adventure Club here, in which they email you a location, you meet, they tell you what the adventure is for the day and you do the adventure.  This weekend, our instructions are to dress warmly, wear comfortable athletic shoes and in layers.  Sounds like we’ll be outdoors.  I am so very excite! (As Hubbs/Borat so eloquently says.)  I’ll keep you posted!