This is a day on which all I seem to want to do is read and write. Read and write, read and write. But I’m at school and the kids won’t let me be. “Watch me!” they cry. They are starving for my attention and I see that there is no way I can possibly feed them all. They are feeling so hungry and so am I. We’re all hungry, only for different things.
This is a day when I feel useless to them, worse than my own sub. I can’t even claim that I am a stand-in for my best intentions. No, I am not. I want to be somewhere else where it is quiet and peaceful and the wireless is functional. I am desperate to be reading and writing. Because of my peek-in reading this morning I had to immediately track down a new book in the elementary library. One read that leads to more reading and I feel a moment of relief.
My students hardly know how badly I need to write. They can’t tell. But maybe their parents will when they read the report comments that I have penned (electronically, of course) with such love and care. Comments are where my love of writing and the love for my students meld. Every comment is unique because every student is unique. Sometimes a comment can become a remarkable vignette of this child in this moment in my eyes. It is a joy and challenge to paint a picture of each child in the context of my busy gym space over the course of 9 or so weeks. When I describe their antics, struggles and idiosyncrasies, I try to make extra space for their strengths to light up the paragraph, even when I have a hard time coping with a difficult behavior pattern or two.
I just finished the first round of comments and so feel like a kid let out for recess. But then there are all these other demands: More curriculum documentation, new equipment that I have to integrate into my planning and lessons, tech tools that still need experimenting with. These tasks make me cranky. Because I’m like a kid in that I don’t really want to do the stuff I’m not really good at. I’m convinced that too much learning and growing isn’t good for you. It can make you tired and feel depleted and make you forget that you’ve already come so far. I’m not Lot’s wife. I won’t become a pillar of salt if I turn around and look at where I’ve been and take in the incredible traces I have left, am leaving. I’m not Lot’s wife, but I feel like I might be. Because, you know, continuous improvement means never standing still, always looking ahead, in order to be a part of ‘the next big thing,’ right?
It’s rare that my need to vent reaches the outside edges of this blog. But perhaps it’s high time to let off some steam, to throw off some of those public allures.
I read a post this morning about getting more traffic on your blog and I thought it both ridiculous and very revealing.
Here’s a taste of what I found:
According to Danny Iny, successful blogger and owner of Firepole Marketing, if you have a new blog that’s getting fewer than 200 page views per day, your focus should be on gaining more traffic. Okay, but how?
And I get that there’s a whole world out there in the giant attention economy filled with bloggers of every stripe who are literally “in it to win it.” They want, crave and pursue traffic because that’s what marketing experts like Iny say you should do. It made me think about the sound of that term: “traffic.” No, no, that’s not my point in being here. My interest, my purpose is in cultivating and caring for audience, which I understand to be quite distinct from traffic. 200 page views per day? Here? No, that is clearly not the party I am hosting. But for those who arrive here through one channel or another should feel welcomed, at ease, free to comment and share. That is what I am here for. It is the pay off for all the reading and writing I do and look forward to doing.
Meanwhile, I feel better now that I’ve got some writing out of my system. Sometimes there has to be room for this too: the unvarnished, the meandering, and even loopy post.
There, I’m done. Thanks.
4 thoughts on “When all I want to do is read and write”
Yes, the infernal rhythm which we impose on ourselves is self-defeating madness. I have been fortunate in being able to make space for myself in and out of the classroom to write or not to write just to feel the space necessary to feel. I am reminded of a post I wrote just over a month ago:
I have found new vigor simply by accepting the need for lying low and listening to myself and the world around. How can we become good listeners for others if we can’t find it to listen to ourselves?
Thanks so much for sharing your post. Yes, fallow. Those moments become rarer and I become crankier. And you are right, listening to ourselves is a sort of first station for being able and in position to listen to others.
Having acknowledged my needs here certainly helped. I dared to breathe. In public.
Wow! What a piece! I’m going to start out by listing some of my favorite lines. Those ‘killer lines’ that punctuated my skull/heart.
-“They are starving for my attention and I see that there is no way I can possibly feed them all. They are feeling so hungry and so am I. We’re all hungry, only for different things.”
Love the notion of hunger and desire here. I wonder if we want different things, different versions of the same thing, or somewhere in between?
-“This is a day when I feel useless to them, worse than my own sub. I can’t even claim that I am a stand-in for my best intentions.”
This is just a jaw-dropper. What a way to describe the inadequacies that seem to be part and parcel of an authentic, meaningful pedagogical career.
Your commitment to capturing the whole child through the comments is fantastic. I know many teachers see them as mere boxes to check, places to fill with bromides to keep families off our backs. You’ve set the bar for how powerful these sorts of comments could be for everyone involved. Thanks for sharing this great piece.
P.S. 200 views a day? Yowza! I’m rocking a solid 10 a day average. 🙂
P.P.S. Did your thoughts/emotions change at all while you wrote the post? Just curious!
Thank you, Peter, for your generous feedback! It warmed my heart and let me release some of my funk. Funny you should ask about any changes while I was writing the post. Yes, I did feel different as I was writing. There was a certain ‘devil-may-care’ feeling that arose, allowing me to just put down what I felt like saying and not worrying about how I or my words might be perceived. And when I finished, just in time to meet my running club kids, I felt relieved, less grumpy. Seems like a win-win. Thanks again for commenting and for your support. It means a lot.