The Hiatus (and if it will continue)

Oh my little blog...

At one point, I devoted so much time and effort into you. And now, you have sat silent for 8 months. Why? What changed?

Well I don't know for sure. But I'm going to "think out loud" in hopes that I come back to you on a regular basis.
Why did I choose to blog to begin with?

At first, it was a record for me to keep track of what I was doing- to look back on what I've done in my career.  It was also a great tool for reflection. I was able to process what I had done, what went well, what I would I do differently. It was very therapeutic actually.

Later, I found a great community of other teacher bloggers- people who understood my passion to create things and I just so happen decided to create mainly for my classroom. Other people, especially in my "real world" would sneer at what I did for my classroom, make negative comments about how much time I devoted to my work, and made me feel bad for the energy I put into my work. These people in "internet world" though got it. They understood. They inspired me. They motivated me. I could share not only for my own record (my blog has come to my rescue when I'm at school and forgot the wording or a chart idea from an activity from the previous year- so it served it's original purpose), but I could share with others and essentially get the positive feedback that was lacking in my real world. Let's face it- it feels good to get positive feedback (or really feedback of any kind that lights a fire under your butt and helps you improve). It feels good to hear from other people who do similar things validate what you've done, suggest things you could add/change, or make you question. I loved that about blogging and sharing what was happening in my small classroom. I loved also when others shared what was happening in their rooms and giving me inspiration or motivation to question and change some of my practices.

So what changed?

One thing I loved about blogging was making things look a certain way. I liked playing around with fonts and colors and design. It was a creative outlet for me. I began to spend a lot of time on this... and I liked spending the time. As I was working on this, I was also still working on creating resources for my own classroom. This interest of design also fell into this type of work too. As I created and shared things for my room based on my needs, people would ask for access to them as well. Which is fine and dandy! Until the requests for things to become editable all the time became common expectations. It takes a lot of extra time to make things editable for others, when you are using fonts and clip art. I'm all for sharing and want things to work well for others too, but the demand and expectations to make things perfect for everyone else started to take its toll on me. One piece of defensive I often used when people scoffed at my excessive work was this: "I do it because I like to do it. When I don't like doing it anymore, I'll stop." I unfortunately reached that point I think and that is one of the reasons I began to share less on the blog.  I used my blog as a way to share and since I was stepping away from creating for others temporarily, I had less content to share (or so I thought).

Which brings me to another possible reason for a lack of blogging: content. When I started to get into blogging, there was already a huge resource of blogs to follow. They had the most amazing content. It didn't always look "pinteresty" but it was great info and ideas, which is what I liked. What I really loved about blogging wasn't always the resources people created, but the ideas and pedagogy. The type of blogging (buy resources, please) started to consume my Bloglovin' feed. As this happened, I found fewer bloggers actually blogging, but rather posting on other social media about resources in their room and then having a blog post about the resource before it sent you to their TpT store. I missed the link-ups that people had, the weekly/monthly series people hosted, and the sharing of ideas. I started to read fewer blogs myself and I distanced myself from blogging since I felt defeated. I missed the "old" blogging. And since people didn't seem as interested in the "old" type of blogging, I didn't feel as inspired to blog myself.

Maybe it is my distance, but it appears that in general, blogs have become a less popular media choice for educators to connect and share with over the last 6 years. Facebook pages, Instagram accounts, and professional, actual, websites have replaced the "blog" that I joined at the beginning of my career. That may be what some people are looking for now- heck it must be because that is what people are choosing to devote their time to instead of their blogs- but personally, it's not what I prefer at this point. I miss sitting down and reading about other teachers and their experiences. Again, this could be a warped perception due to my removal and what I chose to look at.  I shut down all things teacher related on social media (with the exception of this blog) as a way to balance the demands of my job and also take care of myself. It was scary at first to delete and say goodbye to all of my posts on Instagram and my FB followers, but I also knew that if I was going to start it back up again, it would be different than what it had become. I don't regret it. Although sometimes I wish I saved some of the photos to reference. Again though, life goes on. I've slowly started to refollow teachers on my personal Instagram, but I'm not sure if I am ready to go back yet. I'm starting here.

Lastly, one other reason that maybe led towards stepping away, was my personal teaching journey. I've had a lot of things in my career that have stayed the same: same school, same classroom, many of the same colleagues, same curriculum. I've had a few changes: new grade level, new administration, new teammates, new students. I had been giving my whole life to teaching because it made me happy. This year, I've found myself just in more pits and valleys than peaks, both in my teaching career and personal life. I feel like the cards are stacked against teachers often. The large class size I have this year (31) is making me realize how amazing it was to have 21, 24, or even 26 students in a class. Looking back at a video I made for one of my classes two years ago, I realized all the fun things we did then as a class that I haven't done this year with this group. I asked myself why.

Class size often came into play. There's so many of them. Transitions take longer. The sheer number of bodies takes up too much room for other things. When I would buy things, it costs quite a bit more. Trying to manage that many kids in activities that are more hands-on has proven to be a challenge. Expectations to teach so many of them and meet them at their individual level and help them have adequate growth is constantly on my shoulders. Our school has beaten the odds and has won awards from the community for our amazing test scores, and that pressure to continue to climb and not stumble has put an immense amount of pressure on me. I know I put a lot of the pressure on myself. But when you see success and know it is possible, it is hard to accept anything less, even though we don't take into account the things that have changed that made that success tangible in the first place. As one of my colleagues said,  "Our students are coming to us with less and we are having to provide them more. They can't change. They often don't have the option to. But we as adults can change."

However, in education, we are often not given what we need to do that. It makes me sad that I've become so cynical about my profession.  I know though, that I am not alone in this feeling. I wonder if things will break while I'm still teaching and true change will come, or if I will let the broken system break me first. All I know is I want to love my job again. And there's been times this year where I haven't. And it's not because of my students or my team. It's because this work is hard and not getting easier.

There have been times when I wanted to return and share something, but I wouldn't. I'd like to share again, if for nothing else, myself. We are in the process of selling our home and moving closer to my husband's schools. Next year my team should all be back (One of my teammates was on maternity leave the whole year and I really miss having her around. Luckily we got along with the long term sub well and my other teammate and I got closer so I can only look forward to next year being back together). I'm in the same grade and this year, we piloted a new math version of our curriculum so I won't need to spend as much time learning the ropes like I did this year. I will have a class size in the 30s again, but now I will know a bit of what to expect after doing it this year. And if the stresses of this year subside, perhaps my husband and I will get to start the family we've been hoping and praying for, for over two years. I'm trying to get my anxiety under control, find a balance with work and life, build better, healthy habits, and find more joy in my work again. So short answer- I don't know where this blog will go next. If it brings me joy, I will do it. If it brings me stress, I won't.

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