In my weekly meeting with my cohort mentor leader Thursday, we went over my plan for the continuing practice of my craft, and this blog was officially approved! She said that she thought two blog posts a week may be a little much, that one would be fine. I said that she may right: I sat down to post here Thursday afternoon before our meeting and felt like I had nothing to say. I told her this, and her response was that I had plenty of things to say. It was so interesting to hear that, and it’s an argument I feel like I’ll end up having countless times with countless students.
It reminded me of an article we read last week that mentioned Douglas Barnes’ (1992) ideas about varying views of speech and writing. One view is final-draft speech, the idea that the only thoughts and writing acceptable to a person with this view of speech and writing are ones that have been refined and perfected, like a final draft. I realized that my attitude toward this blog, and well, most if not all of my writing is like that. Truth be told, I rarely write for fun or creatively. Any time I write, it is something formal for school. My views toward this blog were that way, that this blog would be high-quality and therefore only feature final-draft ideas and speech. While I hold these ideas for myself, I don’t want my students to feel that way in my classroom when they speak or present me their writing (with some exceptions of course, like formal speeches and papers). Instead, I want my teaching to embrace exploratory talk (and writing!). This is the idea that the process of talking and writing is what leads us to ideas. Through speech and writing, we can stumble through our ideas, clear our heads, and finally figure out what it is we are trying to say. And this is just as acceptable, if not more, than final-draft speech (in my opinion) because it fosters true creativity, freedom, and staying true to what’s in your head and heart. I’ve come to the conclusion that if my writing, talking, and blog posting is exploratory, that’s perfectly acceptable.
So now I’m free to write. To extend my thoughts on freedom: it’s scary. Yesterday I visited two good friends who just graduated with me from college and have moved to a new city to get jobs. The city is gorgeous, and as we walked around and I saw all it had to offer I was really impressed with it and added it to my mental list of places I could apply for teaching jobs in and move to. Just knowing that this time next year I will be certified to teach and can live anywhere I want provided that I can find a job is simultaneously exhilarating and terrifying. I’m not even sure what to do with so much freedom, and it’s scary because it leaves me so much room to fail. I feel like this is a common feeling among recent college graduates I’ve talked to. I can see myself in so many different towns, schools, and houses (well, apartments are probably more realistic at this point) that it’s hard to see myself in any one in particular so resolutely that I can make the decision with confidence.
Freedom’s a funny thing. When we have strict parameters for what we have to do, there is security, which can be reassuring, but we are also tied down to what is expected of us. Freedom provides limitless opportunities for success or failure. In the moments you can see yourself succeeding, you are on top of the world and excited about what’s to come. But those moments are often chased by visuals of failure. I guess it’s the balance that keeps our head in the sky but our feet on the ground.