Will I "Sink or Swim"?
At some point in your life you have been on the brink of something terrifying. One that sticks out in my mind, that you may be able to relate to, is the first time you stood on a diving board at the deep end of the pool and were expected to dive in. Growing up on a farm in Iowa, with a family of 10 kids, swimming lessons were never a priority. You can see in the picture, the closest we got was crowding as many of us as possible into a kiddie pool.
I made it a goal of mine at the age of 30 to learn how to swim. I signed up at the local YMCA in the adult swim course, and learned just barely enough to "survive". One of our final classes included us diving off of the diving board and swimming to the side. Standing up there, with all eyes on me, can be compared to other times in my life where I need to take a leap, but I'm unsure of the result. Will I "sink or swim" is always on my mind. It can be a major event like deciding to get married, have a kid, buy a puppy (yes, that is major), or something as small as writing a blog.
I Fear the Critics
I've been toying with the idea of writing a blog for quite a while, but something kept me from making the final leap. I recently read, "Uncommon Learning" by Eric Sheninger, and he talks about how, "true leaders do not expect others to do what they are not willing to do". I teach a graduate course for an Instructional Technology Leadership program and my assignments include the students blogging based on the essential questions of our units to reflect on the learning. I ask them to synthesize their readings, discussions, and learnings and make connections to their life as an educator or to real world examples. I talk to them about how blogging allows them to reflect on their profession and make deeper connections as they produce it for an authentic audience. Yet, I as the instructor have never posted a blog entry myself! Why? A.J. Juliani hit the nail on the head in this post "Fighting the Fear and Anxiety of Sharing Your Work with the World". I feared the critics. I let that fear overshadow the value blogging could bring to myself personally and professionally. How do I know it brings value? In my course reflections, I asked the students to share, "What surprised me about this course?" Below are a few examples with names not included for privacy:
"My best learning experience was writing the blogs. This was also one of the hardest things for me to complete. I have never thought of myself as a writer, it was not something I enjoyed doing. However, I found a real satisfaction in writing these blogs. It helped to reflect upon my learning and it forced me to think about things I was doing but in a much broader perspective."
"Blogging: I was very reluctant because I am not comfortable putting myself out there in writing to the public. I can write to individuals with ease but knowing that anyone could or might be able to access my thoughts made me uncomfortable, exposed. After submitting my first blog I was more at ease and I was surprised that I enjoyed blogging."
"The thing that surprised me during this course was how much I enjoyed writing the blog entries. I have never blogged nor even considered it before. I plan to continue to blog about teaching and things that I am learning in the future."
Fear or Action
I was recently asked what my #oneword2017 would be as a New Year was upon us. I had been thinking about this as I saw others posting to Twitter their ideas. I chose the word, "action". This word carries a lot of weight in my mind as I have been sitting back the last few years as a part of my Twitter PLN happily consuming great ideas, articles, quotes, blogs, etc. from educators around the world. However, as my brain filled, I felt like I was missing something for never contributing to the PLN further than retweeting great finds and showcasing what was happening in the classrooms in our district.
My fear: Do I have anything of value to contribute?
I'm not sure of that answer. However, I need to take "action" to find out. For every article or blog I read, I find something of value, but maybe it isn't about bringing value to others. I thought of reasons that writing a blog might bring value to me:
Can you empathize with what I have felt? Are you a new or seasoned blogger that could share some ideas with me? Perhaps you have the same fears keeping you from making the dive. Check out the resources below. I'm ready to take #action...
Mother, wife, teacher, learner, information seeker, outdoor lover, & I guess now a novice blogger.