Why I Blog
It's hard to believe, but I started this blog over four years ago. Even as I write that out, there's a part of me that thinks my math must be wrong. But it's not.
I started it because, as a fairly new school librarian at the time, I was, to put it bluntly, lonely. I'd been a classroom teacher for many years prior to jumping into the library, and although both professions can be somewhat isolating, I'd never in my career felt as lonely as I did those first few years in the library. It's not that I wasn't surrounded by nice people. because I surely was. What's more, as a classroom teacher, I'd certainly grown accustomed to spending most of my day talking to little (as opposed to big) people. None of that made me lonely.
What I was missing in the library was camaraderie - a team, a department, a group of other librarians with whom I could plan, scheme and grow. As close as I was with several teachers at my school at the time, it wasn't quite the same. I needed a network of other librarians. People who "got it." Who understood what I did and why I was so passionate about it.
So... I set out to find a tribe. And this blog was a first step.
Needless to say, in the last four years, much has changed: not the least of which being that the network I so needed back then has now grown and flourished in ways I could never have predicted. As a school librarian/educator on loan, I am far more connected now than I ever was as a classroom teacher. And as such, I don't think I've ever been so productive or so fulfilled. Now, I am the opposite of lonely. Both my personal and professional lives (as it is often difficult to separate the two) are teeming with dynamic, meaningful connections - and I could not be more grateful.
One thing that remains constant, however, is this space. No matter where my adventures take me, I continue to find my way back here. Why? Because education is a profession that cannot be accomplished by standing still. Because no matter how many years closer I am to retirement I creep, I cannot stop growing. And because through this blog, I am able to:
Connect: If there's one thing I know, education is definitely a team sport. My first year teaching one of the administrators on my staff told me that the best advice she could give me would be to "avoid the teacher's lounge and just shut your door and teach." I'm so glad I didn't listen to her. While the teacher's lounge is certainly not what I would call a hot bed of innovation, trying to go it alone is a mistake - one that both you and your students will suffer for. Whether in a traditional classroom, a lab or a library, teaching is hard, hard work. And for me, the only successful antidote has always been collaboration. That said, this space continues to provide me with a place to share my ideas, listen to the ideas of others and grow as a practitioner. People don't always agree with what I post here but the honest feedback I've received over the years has proven invaluable. I know that I am a much, much better educator today than I was four years ago, and this blog has certainly been instrumental in that growth.
Lead: I continue to believe that school librarians have an important leadership role to play in our buildings and communities. Whether we're talking about the Library at Alexandria, the Library of Congress or the school library around the corner, libraries have always been the cornerstone of knowledge creation in our society. What we do is important. What's more, in the school setting, we are in an incredibly unique position of working with every child, every teacher and every administrator in the building - and with everybody else in between too. Our fingers touch just about all of the learning materials that go into the hands of students and staff. We are often the only person in the building who understands every grade/every subject's curriculum. And we are both certified teachers as well as certified program administrators. If that doesn't spell leadership, I don't know what does! Over the years, this blog has provided me with a platform - a bully pulpit if you will - from which to expand the leadership role I play in our profession. In addition to being an instructional leader in my building and district, I've used this space to take others by the hand and kick still others in the hiney, when necessary, in order to move our profession forward (in my own small way). When I started this blog, I'd have never imagined that it would help me grow as a leader, but it has, and I take that responsibility very seriously.
Reflect: Not enough educators take the time to truly reflect on their work. And I understand why. Given the mountain of responsibilities we all shoulder, taking a few minutes to really reflect on what we do, ask important questions about why and how we do it and let the answers evolve our practice can seem like a luxury. But that is dangerous thinking. As an English teacher, I used to tell my students that writing was a process of vision and then revision (and then revision and revision and revision, etc). Good teaching is the same. We only get better by sharing what we do, examining the cracks in our work and then using what we learn in the process, and from each other, to strengthen it. This process is not a luxury. It is an absolute necessity. Of course, I am not saying that every educator should be required to blog. But I do think there should be mechanisms in place to not only allow but also nudge every educator towards frequent and meaningful reflection. For me, this blog has been my primary spot for doing that and I can't put into words what it has meant to me. I'm a better writer, a better teacher and, in some ways, a better person as a result. It's that big. It's that important.
So... that's why I blog. It's not about hits, comments or stats - although I would be lying if I didn't say that I wasn't a little excited by each new follower. It's about something much, much bigger. And while I certainly benefit as a result, the other teachers, librarians and students I work with each day benefit too - and that's far more important.
In the end, I have to admit that this post feels a little like a betrayal - like I'm about to uncover some closely guarded secret - because surely if EVERYONE knew how impactful having a blog could be EVERYONE would be doing it. But, really, this post is a thank you to everyone reading it and especially to those who have been here for all four years. Thanks for sticking with me. Here's to the next four!