Grounded in Reflective Blogging

2012 has been an interesting year so far, and that’s putting it mildly. It’s been full of incredible highs, but also a few unrelenting lows. I’ve been going through some difficult personal stuff: existential dilemma sort of stuff. In the last few months I’ve even heard myself say, “The only thing I’m sure of is that I’m not that sure of anything.” I felt like I had lost my groundedness. I’m happy to say that at least one foot has now secured itself to the earth.

As a teacher, this feeling just wasn’t cutting it. How could I teach when all I wanted to do was float away? A teacher is supposed to be sure. A teacher is supposed to be a tree her students can lean on: rooted.

I’d wonder, “How did I get here? Why am I letting my confidence slip away?”

Then I remembered my blog. Last year, I wrote a post a week. Monday was my day. I’d start writing in the afternoon and there was no way that post wasn’t going to be published before midnight. — And can you believe this was before I understood how to use Twitter? I only figured out the beauty of developing Twitter PLN (personal learning network) in October 2011! But that’s a story for another time.

I wrote about classroom moments that caught my attention during the week. Sometimes I’d write rigorous reflections à la ELC. Sometimes I’d simply share my thoughts on what a participant said or did. I loved organizing tags and categories, and I found playing with my blog’s layout quite meditative.

My blog was where I grounded myself. It was where I reflected. It was where I explored my beliefs and examined my actions. Via these reflections I was developing an understanding of my teaching and of myself. I was growing confidence.

2012 has not seen me blogging to this degree. For the most part, I’ve been neglecting my blog and tending to other matters.

Then it occurred to me: could it be that by not blogging I was creating more lows for myself? Was there a direct relation between my reflective blogging and the confidence I felt last year? I’ve been fascinated by this theory.

I’ve always said that my reflective practice helped me become a more confident teacher, but here I’ve been, barely writing. Of course, many other factors are surely connected to me losing my footing. But could I not be the subject of my own theory? If one gains confidence through habitual reflection, then wouldn’t the reverse be true?

Well, it’s Monday, and here’s my post. I’m not sure if I’m back like I was last year, but I’d like to try. I posted last Monday, and I’m grateful for the amazing feedback I got. This, and other friendly nudgings, definitely encouraged me to try again this Monday. I’m looking forward to testing out my theory, and seeing if I manage to ground myself again.

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24 thoughts on “Grounded in Reflective Blogging

  1. Josette, I’ll just jump in here quickly – the way you have made the professional personal on your blog, the way you have humanised it, is why I really enjoy it and also why it stands out for me. Please don’t stop! :)

  2. Sorry to hear about the “interestingness” of your year, I can’t imagine it’s great and perhaps losing your reflective outpouring intensified things. I hope that re-engaging in this habit helps clear your head. I know it helps me process my thoughts.
    Anyway, all the best and we’re all routing for you.

    1. Thank you so much for your empathy and support Chris. So far, “re-engaging” has helped me clear my head. It’s amazing how much simply acknowledging something brings great clarity.

      All the best in your own reflections Chris!

  3. Habits, effective and ineffective, play a huge role in how we feel and react to situations around us. Which is why it is always a good idea to cultivate habits that reinforce us. And I think, in that respect, reflective blogging gave you the opportunity to vent any frustrations, but also to put down the small victories we are so apt to let slip away, so that the next time you blogged, there they were, reminding you of what you were achieving. Keep it up, but don’t beat yourself up if you don’t make the deadline occasionally.

    1. Dear Leonie,

      Thank you so much, as ever, for taking the time to comment and share your insights. You brought up something I hadn’t made clear for myself, “reflective blogging gave you the opportunity to vent any frustrations, but also to put down the small victories we are so apt to let slip away, so that the next time you blogged, there they were, reminding you of what you were achieving.” Thank you for helping me see my process more clearly. :) There is no doubt that this venue serves as motivating reminder of the good work I have done.

      All the best!

  4. Hi Josette
    [ I couldn’t think of ‘motivational’ anything to say]

    but really wanted to express my support. As a teacher and blogger, I feel very close to my heart many of the things you’re saying here, and I think the fact that you were able to perceive these things, raise questions, and engage in self-discovery, is already remarkable. Whether you find the answers you’re looking for, the first step has been taken.

    all the best
    Willy

    1. Willy, I really appreciate you reaching out to me via this post. I’m happy to know that what I wrote connected to you. I’m also happy to meet another blogger/teacher who appreciates self-discovery and questioning. :)

      Happy exploring!
      Josette

  5. Josette,

    Sorry to hear about the recent “woes” (been having some myself of late – hence the “emergency trip” to the UK last week) – it happens to all of us. But, it was great to see how you use the blog to get back grounding you so clearly have ;-)

    We can never really separate the personal from the professional – not sure if we even should…that’s who we are, that’s what makes us “human” ;-)

    So, blog away – as you note, if it a tool for “habitual reflection”, use it ;-)

    Take care,

    T..

    1. Thank you so much for your support Tony. I was very grateful to read your words because, as I just mentioned in Alex’s (@breathyvowel) reply, it’s easy to feel alone sometimes. Knowing that you are there, wherever you are, enjoying my explorations is immense motivation.

      The more I teach, the more I spend time on Twitter and in the blogosphere, the more I connect to what you wrote, “We can never really separate the personal from the professional – not sure if we even should…that’s who we are, that’s what makes us “human” ;-)” I’m realizing the there is no division between the two. I think I’ve thought there *should be a division, but now I’m not convinced. Dividing these two would be like dividing our humanness. This impossible as you say.

      I hope you are bouncing back from your “emergency trip” in a gentle and loving way.

      All the best to you Tony.

  6. Hey Josette (and Kevin, and Rachael),

    Funny, Kevin’s sentiments also mirror mine, I’ve had a huge workload recently and haven’t been in a particularly good mood about it. I said a while ago that I think what’s often missed about reflection is how motivating it is for a teacher. It feels good to be exploring what you’re doing, and trying to improve, such that when you don;t have time for it, teaching can feel somewhat empty. At least to me.

    I also think you’ve perhaps answered your own questions in some way within your post, namely that you’ve been on Twitter much more. Not that this is a bad thing in any way, just that from my experience it tends to make your reflections more grounded in a community than in yourself as an individual. I think that people reflect in different ways, either internally or externally, individually or in a group, and on blogs or more ‘networky’ social networks. What I have found is that the more interactive your reflection, the more reflection is done through helping others. While this is good, sometimes the individual reflective side just needs indulging. I’ve been felling this a lot over the last few weeks, hence I’ve been a bit withdrawn. Perhaps you’re feeling the same thing.

    One solution that might help you keep the best of both worlds is, again, something you’ve already done here, namely using your blog as the source of community reflection. This is something that I think Alex W does superbly. Again, maybe this could be of help.

    OK, that’s pretty much my study break over. I’m off to the coffee shop in the company of Messrs. Lakoff and Tannen.

    Alex

    1. Dear Alex,

      I imagine you would tell me not to apologize for taking so long to reply to your comments, but I have a need to. :) So I apologize. When I read your reply a few weeks ago, a wave of relief and gratitude came over me. In writing such posts I always wonder if I’m lamenting something that others could care less about. Your reflective reply gave me the comfort I needed to realize I’m not alone.

      I really liked what you wrote here, “it tends to make your reflections more grounded in a community than in yourself as an individual.” What an insightful way of putting it. It makes a lot of sense to me. I have often talked about how in order to help others, you first need to help yourself. In a way this seems to be a bit of what you’re saying. I think the “individual reflective side” needs indulging because this is one way to care for ourselves. When we care for ourselves we have more space to care for each other.

      And in this interchange, your next point comes up: using the blog as a source of community reflection. There is no doubt in my mind now that this is the new twist that my blog will be taking.

      Thank you so much for helping me clear away the cobwebs.

      Gratefully,
      Josette

  7. Hi Josette,

    What a timely post. I’ve been feeling a little blue, what with 3 TESOL papers waiting to be written and test week grinding on at my school. It’s one of those, ‘What-am-I-doing’ kind of moments. Well, weeks, really. And I haven’t been blogging as much as I would like, or tweeting, or much of anything really. I’m just looking at my stack of grammar books and my list of ‘tasks’ and fretting as I grade papers. So it’s probably no wonder I’m at a loss about what I’m doing. All the things that make the doing fun (blogging, touching base with my PLN) have been laid by the wayside. That wicked trickster almost had me convinced that I’m not where I want to be.

    Thanks for the post and thanks to you Rachel for the extra dose of insight.

    Kevin

    1. Kevin,

      Your comment really meant a lot to me, and I regret taking so long to reply. It reminded me of one big reason why I blog: to satisfy my need for a shared reality. As your comment demonstrates, it can be easy for teachers – especially teachers who are also students as you are – to feel isolated. This isolation is prime territory for the trickster (Rachael thank you so much for that term. It works so well.) to grow. When I blog, when I interact with my PLN, I realize I’m not alone. I realize that other teachers share similar feelings and thoughts. This is perfect trickster repellant. T

      Thank you for sharing your reality with me. :)

  8. Oh and btw, I also find it extremely relaxing to sit and tinker with my blog! I think I see it a my little part of the world where I can be creative and shared my thoughts with the few people who are interested. Everyone needs their own little space in one form or another!

    1. Alex, I really appreciated you connecting with me in the way that you did. When I read this, “it’s often more that I just need to get things off my chest!” and “…my little part of the world where I can be creative and shared my thoughts with the few people who are interested.” there was some major nodding going on at my computer. The combination of ‘release’ and ‘creativity’ are what make blogging such a pleasure and a reward. For anyone who forgot (me), thank you for bringing this back to our attention.

      And I’m sure you already got the answer, but you absolutely can use this for your assignment. Thank you for asking, and please feel free to use any of my posts in future assignments. :)

  9. Josette, would you mind if I use this for my M.A assignment?

    I agree and understand, without my blog I would really struggle to deal with some of the professional and sometimes personal issues I face. Although it is nice to get a lot of readers for me it’s often more that I just need to get things off my chest! I think some people need an outlet to express their feelings, and once they are expressed they can start to really think about ways past problems, or ways to appreciate successes.

    Also, it is your blog, I really feel you should write whatever you need/want to write, the passion that comes through will keep people coming back, and if they don’t, do you really care if they read your blog?

    I’m looking forward to some super regular blog posts :-)

  10. Thanks for this, Josette. This ties in very nicely for me with my belief that whatever really works for a person in terms of self development (be it personal or work-related), there is that sneaky part of ourselves (the Ego, the trickster, call it what you will!) that will therefore decide to sabotage it. So, well spotted and looking forward to more of your blog posts now!

    1. Yes! I totally agree with you Rachael. This ego/trickster has been raging to be heard, and in it’s rampage for attention, it sabotaged my blogging. All very fascinating. Fun to be able to explore this with you. Thanks for connecting in this way. We speak the same language. :)

        1. I like that, “which feels right”. This is the bottom line when it comes to writing isn’t it? It has to feel right or then it just becomes a chore.

          Of course, I also question my writing. Sometimes I wonder if I’m being too personal, and in some way overshadowing the professional side of my blog. However, then I realize that this is where I am now. If this is what feels right, then this is what I need to write.

          Thank you for the inspiration Rachael. Here’s to mixing the professional with the personal!

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