Contemplating

bench

Image courtesy of Simon Powell

I woke up this morning and this was spinning in my head. As I write this, I have a feeling it should have stayed in there where it made more sense (at least to me). Oh well, I will give it a go.

17th May 2013. That was the day that I started this blog. I had bold ambitions to share my thoughts on issues that mattered to the ELT community and how they were being played out in my classroom. I never ever intended for this site to make me rich or famous (and for the record, neither of those actually happened anyway), but my hope has always been that it might help others to reflect on their own teaching and possibly start a conversation as I learned from those who read my posts.

In part, that has happened. People comment and discuss things on Twitter, but mostly I feel like I am not really adding anything to the general conversation. I read posts from other ELT professionals and I think to myself, “What am I doing? These people are smarter than me and much better writers. What could I possibly add that hasn’t already been said or discussed in depth by others? I must be arrogant to think that others even care about what I have to say.” There have been those who have commented or thanked me for my posts, but I can’t help thinking that they are just being polite and attempting to encourage me. I don’t want to diminish what they have said, but really, aren’t these the people who already know this stuff in depth? Am I just “preaching to the choir”?

Also, I can’t help feel a bit discouraged by the negative tone that is prevalent throughout the education community, and ELT is no exception, especially when it comes to blogging and other forms of social media such as Twitter and Facebook. There is a place for sparking some thoughts about how we do things, but I feel we have often tipped into the ‘nasty’ and ‘judging’ with a lack of ‘appreciation’ and ‘support’. I think this is just how I am feeling at the moment and if I really stopped and thought about it, I would realize how much support is going on. You could probably persuade me fairly easily that I am off base here, but I can’t help feeling like those who are the most ‘biting’ are also the ones who get the most support.

I am not giving up on this blog just yet, but I am wondering about walking away for a while and putting my energies into someplace or something else. I don’t know. This is tough for me. I try really hard not to worry to much about what others think and if anyone is actually listening, but my human nature takes over and I start to worry about if I am meeting other people’s expectations. I really do want to be the best teacher I can be for my students, but reading what others write and how others feel about the profession, it makes me think I am deceiving others into thinking I have something to share.

After reading over what I have just written, I am concerned that you think I am ‘getting my nose out of joint’ and wanting to ‘take my toys and go home’. Boy, I hope that isn’t what I just communicated. I am merely saying that there are a ton of great people out there who already do what I do, only much better. Follow them, learn from them, engage with them. Maybe it’s just time I sat on the bench for a while and learned from the pros. Holding the clipboard and being the water boy is probably not a bad thing for now.

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16 thoughts on “Contemplating

  1. When I started blogging, I also started reading blogs. I was looking for clear voices talking about what it is really like, intellectually, emotionally, viscerally, to be a language teacher. You do that. In fact, yours is one of the first blogs that I go to.

  2. Keep writing. There is a reflective quality to your writing that is not pretentious or whiny ans you stay focused on a topic. In the long run, you will be a better teacher for having this blog. – Amy

    1. I can’t believe I missed replying to your comment! Sorry for taking so long.

      Thank you so much for your kind words. I sincerely do not want to come across in a negative way. Your comment is very reassuring.

  3. Hi Nathan

    I read your post and just wanted to say hello, and to say that I really appreciate how honestly and openly you are sharing your feelings and thoughts about what blogging means (or does not?) for you right now. I am a very new blogger (started just last December) and I am learning so much from literally everyone. No exaggeration. I am also learning how important it is to be able to leave a comment in a timely manner (for example, I kept drafting it for your previous post about Portfolio and now you wrote this new one already) It would be weird to hear ‘keep writing’ from me, a beginner, so I will just say: ‘Listen to your heart, and if you need a break, take it. Your readers will be there for you when you decide to come back’
    Warmly,
    Zhenya

    1. I am so sorry for being so late in replying to your comment. I need to get better at replying right away so it doesn’t get missed.

      It doesn’t matter if you are a new blogger or someone who has been doing this a long time, I appreciate the comments. Thank you for your support and good luck with the blog!

  4. Hey, it’s sort of a catch-22 to leave a supportive comment now. Then again, I’ll risk it since I’m not one of the smarter betters. I have to say that I feel the same way sometimes myself. I’d go so far as to say that sometimes I think I’m just tolerated in the blogosphere. I roll with a crowd that is pretty darn amazing. I hope to learn as much as I can offline and online – from bloggers like you. That said, I want to echo what Zhenya said about taking a break if you want to (even though I’d miss your posts). It’s up to you.

    1. I am so sorry for taking so long to reply. This post was one of those that I just walked away from for a while and when I finally came back, I neglected to thank those who commented.

      I am still not entirely sure where this blog will go. I do enjoy it, but I also stress sometimes about how I am being perceived by others in the ELT community. It’s hard. I try to not let it get to me, but my human nature takes over and things just snowball. Ugh.

      Thank you for blogging, sharing, and being a part of the community. If there is one thing I am learning for sure, it is that we all need each other probably more than we realize. Keep it up.

  5. Hi Nathan,
    As others have said here, you should listen to what feels write for you. If blogging feels forced, then it’s not worth it. Write when you feel you need to get something off your chest (or out of your head in this case), and don’t write when you don’t feel like you need to. It’s your blog, and it’s your choice what you put on here.
    Having said that, I really like the way that you are so open about teaching, and about your questions about it. I’ve only recently discovered your blog, and it’s already made me think a lot. Every blogger has a different take on things, and everyone expresses it in different ways. Even if you think someone else has already said the same thing, the way you say it will be different, and catch the attention of a different group of people.
    Whatever you decide, good luck!
    Sandy

    1. I really appreciate the comments, Sandy. Sorry for taking so long to reply.

      Writing for me is a new(ish) thing for me and I guess I feel a bit self-conscious about it and I am always second guessing what I am doing. This post was one of those days of frustration I had and I guess it just finally came out in a post. I am so worried that I am going to come across in the wrong way and that misunderstanding will linger. I guess it is one of the dangers of “putting yourself out there” for others to read and critique. It’s a scary thing indeed.

      Thank you for taking time out of your schedule not only to read my posts, but to comment and share with others. It is very kind of you.

  6. Thank you for posting this! I share a lot of the same beliefs and thoughts (and fears) about my own blog. I’ve only just started blogging in March so I’m still pretty green. I often feel like I’m in way over my head when I read posts by bloggers who are much more creative than me and much better writers. I sometimes wonder if anyone really reads my posts and if they find them useful. I’d like to say I’m making a positive contribution to the blogosphere but I’m not really sure that’s true. At the very least, I’m organizing my own thoughts and reflections. I’m also gaining practice in writing (a weakness of mine) and learning to find my own voice. I don’t think blogging is for everyone but I do think that everyone can take something from it, whether it’s adding to the general discussion or gains that are more personal.

    1. Hi Micaela,
      When I started blogging I had no idea about writing. It has taught me so much. I had the same feeling of being in over my head as you when I first started, but that goes away as you improve your confidence. Good luck as you continue!

    2. First things first. Thank you very much for taking time to comment. I love hearing from fellow teachers.

      Secondly, kudos for stepping out there and blogging. It is a scary thing sometimes knowing your peers are out there reading your work and you are not always sure what they are thinking. Keep going. You can be assured you have at least one reader in myself. :)

      Lastly, I think Sandy says it well. You will continue to grow in your writing in each post you struggle through and share with the rest of the world.

      Keep it up!

      1. Hi Nathan,

        Thanks so much for your optimism and support. I really appreciate it.

        I’m looking forward to reading more of your posts as well. The best part about blogging is feeling that connection with other teachers.

        ‘See’ you soon. :-)

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