Saturday, November 9, 2013

Should I Be Less Connected?

Kung Fu Fighting
I'm thinking of becoming a less connected educator. Blasphemy, I know.

I have come to love social media. I enjoy discovering what Matt Gomez is doing with his kindergartners and what challenging thoughts Teacher Tom will bring me. I try to keep up with all the thoughts (and good natured ribbing) flying through #kinderchat and wonder again how John Spencer seems to be writing what I am thinking about (but much more coherently).

I gather ideas from a multitude of blogs and Twitter links. I lurk on Pinterest from time to time. (I still haven't joined - I'm afraid of what that will do to me.) I am so grateful for the inspiration and challenge and thoughts.

And that's the problem.

Multiflow Chart

I see all the great ways that teachers are engaging their students. All the wonderful activities that are tied to standards and creativity and the most up-to-date technology that I have just heard about. I drop info into my Evernote notebooks and create bookmarks to all kinds of things.

And I look at my class and my teaching. I see so much less.

Full Moon

I look back at this week. I think someone distilled the "full moon effect" and put it in the water of my students' neighborhoods. We were turned up a notch this week.

And I've been so tired. Working on lesson plans and working on stuff for my university class (that seems to be taking sooo much more time this semester). So my edge has been honed this week.

David Remix

I see the super teachers achieving and I see me...well...not so much. And I ponder and I wonder and I begin to think that, maybe, I'm not the teacher I think I am.

Time disappears. My kids don't seem to progress as they should. My class cannot compare to what I see  as a connected, online educator.

I love being connected to other teachers. I love learning new things and thinking new thoughts. But the temptation is to compare and come up short. Someone, I think it was Jon Acuff*, said to not compare your regular self to someone's (online) best self. Many times bloggers post what works and how it works. Their posts may not show an overall picture of their classes. (At least I'm hoping they have crazy days, too.)

So I'm thinking I may need to back off of reading 1,005 blog posts every week and comparing those ideas to my class. It's only my second year in a mid-life career change. And, two weeks after school started, I was moved to a new school and new grade level.

Best Teacher

My class is loud and rowdy. I'm working to keep us on track. I'm learning that a fast pace and some independent center work keeps things humming. And that losing control of my patience doesn't yield the best results.

So...I may not read every blog post and tweet. I may not comment or post as much as I may have in the past. I may love your idea and save it but not think about it again until year 3 or 4 or 5. (I'd like to think I'm in for the long haul.) If I'm not online, don't worry. I'm probably taking a nap.

Mr. Wiley

[[*Jon, if you read this and it is your quote, please let me know and I'll modify this post for proper attribution. And, if you're not Jon and this is your quote, let me know and I'll change it, too.]]


  1. I hear you loud and clear, Scott. I used to follow a lot of teacher blogs but have unfollowed most (some because their only reason for existing seemed to be to sell their units). I admire you for sharing your teaching experience so early in your career - I'm almost twenty years in and don't think I could do it.

    I like your quote about sharing your best parts online - so true! Unless someone is teaching in an idyllic utopia, I imagine that these teachers are having similar experiences -everything is relative. I think "being connected" has been great for sharing experiences with others - and learning from others - but I don't feel pressured to be what they are and I don't think any of us should feel that way.

  2. Thanks for the kind words.

    I've felt the same way, by the way. The comparison trap is tricky. I feel like I'm not a hotshot teacher. I'm behind on grading. I haven't done cool, collaborative projects. I'm stumbling around this year.

    But I'll say this much: I love reading your blog. I hope you keep it up.

  3. You have articulated what I too have been feeling. It is like the honeymoon period of the first flush and excitement is waning, and now I look to the relationships that have stuck and choose to cut back, go deeper with those who inspire me. Like you.

  4. When I read blogs from teachers I imagine they are sharing their top 10%. That seems to help me with this issue. The answer is yes, everyone has bad days and at least one weakness. We don't tend to share that and this is something I need to do more often. I wish I was as reflective as you on my blog. Keep up the great work and cut back a little online if it helps.

  5. I was just talking about this with someone yesterday. Teachers are only sharing the successes in their rooms and need to be sharing all: the good, the bad, what worked, and what didn't work. I think that if we share the "failures" in our class that is TRUE self-reflection. We can learn from it. Perhaps other teachers can share solutions that could help with those "failures" or just offer support that we're not's happened to all of us. Others will see us as being more human and not being some amazing educator on a pedestal. It can give those of us who read these blogs the idea that maybe we can be amazing too because these teachers have kids "just like mine". Maybe I am an amazing teacher too.

  6. I had to chuckle when I read your post, Scott. As a 21-year veteran educator with experience in grades K-3, 5 and 6, I have had many days when I feel inadequate, and coming home to see the newest post or product from tPt's top-seller doesn't help my flagging self-esteem after a long and trying day in my 2nd grade classroom. Thanks for reminding me again to keep it all in a clear and common-sense perspective!

    P.S. Keep your stash of "I LOVE MY TEACHER" notes in a handy place so that even on the worst school days, you can read them over and over as I reminder that the work you are doing with young children is important and appreciated!

    Continue to make a difference!
    Jennifer Reynolds

  7. My whole goal this year is to simplify. If I find an idea that simplifies my teaching time, I consider it. If I find something that makes me pale in comparison, I think about whether or not the time it takes is worth it. Will my kids really benefit much more? I have to let stuff go as well.

    I have always loved your comments. I hope you will stay connected, but treat it like a 12 step program…take what you love and leave the rest. :)

    First in Maine

  8. Hi Scott,
    I appreciate your openness. This is my twenty-first year and I continue to be overwhelmed with the responsibilities of my profession -

    1. intervention/differentiated instruction
    2. data teams
    3. parent communication
    4. completing progress reports 3 times a year (I have 31 kiddos so far.)
    5. attending after-school district & site meetings (teacher-lead, makeover
    cluster, k-committee, etc.)
    6. lesson planning
    7. preparing materials (photocopying, creating charts, getting centers
    ready, etc.)
    8. filing
    9. staying current by visiting blogs & googling
    10. and so on and on and on . . .

    Thank you so much for sharing. I certainly can relate to your post.

  9. What a great post. Thank you for your honesty. I completely understand about feeling overwhelmed. I tried narrowing down to 2 ways I wanted to improve that I saw in others' posts. Has made it easier. Keep fighting the good make a difference!

  10. What else can I say, you nailed it Scott. I see nothing less of an amazing teacher, reflecting on your practice and doing the best you can.

  11. This is exactly how I am feeling. I spend so much time reading, searching, downloading, pinning! I'm so unfocused. 20 years in the classroom and most days I'm feeling tired and inadequate. Deep down I know I'm a good teacher, it's just hard when you see what everyone else is doing out there. 16 boys and 5 girls... most of my day is spent on classroom management, transitions and 'getting along'. Hopefully by January we will be learning... 'sigh'.

  12. I think that anyone who becomes a connected educator has moments when they feel overwhelmed, inadequate, and maybe even unappreciated. While there is definitely inspiration in the blogs, tweets, pins, tumblrs (on and on), there is also the very human tendency to compare ourselves to others when it really isn't a fair thing to do. Everyone has a different set of challenges and circumstances. We just do what we can do. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with us.

  13. Very sensible. We all need to keep fine-tuning our balance between our virtual and real world lives. I've often had to cut back on my reading (novels) when I found that I was neglecting my day-to-day. And sometimes, I decide to spend more time online or try to find more books to read since I find myself too mired in the here and now. I also have to adjust my TV consumption time. I've recently made an effort to increase it so that I had some idea what everyone else was talking about.

  14. Scott, check out this post. I ran across it four months ago when I was having some of the same feelings. It helped put things in perspective.