Blogging has raised the standards I have for myself. I don't want to just teach the way I was taught. I don't want to lecture at students who really aren't listening. I don't want to be content with the way I taught something before. It has opened my eyes to the various tricks I was taught in school that do a disservice to my students.
Blogging connects me. I get e-mails and comments and messages from people, sharing a wealth of knowledge. I'm the only Algebra 2 teacher in my school district. But, I am not alone. I am not alone in this quest to make math fun and exciting and doable. I am not alone in my struggles. I am inspired by others. I am inspired to be better. I am inspired to do more. I am inspired to focus on what is truly important.
The more I take from this community, the more I want to give back. I give because others have already given so much to me. I give because I don't feel like any of this is 100% mine. I read the ideas of others. And, my subconscious rearranges the ideas into something that I *think* might work for my students. Sometimes, it does. Sometimes, it doesn't. When I think I do have an original idea, I usually later find something somewhere on the Internet that I hadn't realized had inspired me. So, I share what I create, and I try to link back to those who inspired me (when I remember who they are.)
I take pictures of everything. My students (except for maybe three or four) still don't know about my blog. I'm not quite sure what they think when they see me snapping pictures of activities with my camera. Okay. I guess that's why I always try to take my pictures when nobody else is around. I've been known to shut the door of my classroom when I'm working in there after school so no one notices the flash of my camera. I only made it public knowledge to my facebook friends that I have a blog a couple of weeks ago. It's just not something that I go around telling people. I don't introduce myself as "Sarah Hagan, high school math blogger." I'm definitely the only teacher in my district who blogs.
One of my students did find me on twitter the other day, though. "Ms. Hagan! You're on twitter?!?!? How in the world do you have 695 followers? I'm an officer in a national organization, and I don't even have that many followers!" I just laughed and said, "What? You didn't know I'm famous?"
A few months ago, I was driving down the road on my way home. I take the same way home 99.9998% of the time. One day, I noticed something new: an American flag sculpture made out of some type of bark or driftwood. After driving past it five days a week for several weeks, I decided I needed to take a picture of it. My sister is an art major, and I thought I would share the picture with her. Now, deciding to take a picture and actually doing it are different things. You see, this beautiful piece of artwork is at the corner of an intersection. So, I would need to sort of stop my car in the intersection to take the picture. I do live in a small, small town, so that's not that big of a deal. But, then I started thinking, "What will people think if they see me taking a picture of this?" I didn't want people to think I was crazy. (That's kinda funny because I don't care if my students think I'm crazy. In fact, if my students don't think I'm crazy, I haven't done my job!) So, I would make sure I had my camera out and ready. If I saw anybody nearby, I would chicken out. Finally, I decided the coast was clear one day, and I took this picture.
|American Flag Yard Art|
This picture is a reflection of my blogging journey. I used to fear putting myself out there for the world to see. I feared that I wasn't good enough. I feared my inadequacy. After all, I'm only part way through my second year of teaching. I'm still figuring things out. I am a work in progress. And, there are days when blogging isn't so fun. There are the comments that are cruel. There are the blog posts that I have ran across that criticize my approach to teaching. But, I've decided I don't care. I'm not blogging for you. I'm blogging for me. I'm blogging because I feel like I need to give something back. If you choose to use something in your classroom, that's great. I'd love to hear about it. If you disagree with what you read, that's okay, too. I have still achieved my purpose. I have shared. And, I have been changed in the process.