Thursday, January 14, 2016

From Musings to Tidbits

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As the Bob Dylan song goes, "The Times They Are A-Changing.”

I first heard this song back in 2003 while I was teaching at Alleghany High School in Sparta, North Carolina. My principal at the time appointed me as chair of the high school graduation planning committee, and the class leaders selected it as their theme song. I can't say it is a favorite, but I like using the phrase whenever I feel a necessity for some sort of change.

Change is inevitable. Change is growth, and if we don't grow, we die. Small changes or massive changes. Some people fear change, and so they avoid it. Others, like me, thrive in it and embrace the newness and the challenges it brings.  Even tiny changes that may seem somewhat insignificant can be refreshing and stimulating.

No,  I'm not leaving my school district or moving into a new role.  My students and my schools are stuck with me, at least until the end of the year. We are no longer tenured in North Carolina, so we only have job security for a year, although I do expect to be invited back for next year and many more to come.

Here's my change: I'm renaming my blog!

As I've stated on many occasions, I initially joined Twitter to connect with other ESL educators, which I consequently found and also encountered so much more. In fact, my PLN spans a broad spectrum of education professionals. Furthermore, my professional interests include numerous topics, in addition to English language acquisition.

Last December, as I was reflecting on 2015 and planning ahead for 2016, I stumbled upon, "How to Build Your Teacher Brand" by Kerry Gallagher (@kerryhawk02).  As she stated in her post, I, like most teachers, never associated branding with teaching, but more with a business or a product line. However, I do believe that as we grow, we evolve.  And as a result of becoming a globally connected educator, my focus, and my interests have evolved.  As I pondered on this idea of branding myself, I thought I would begin by renaming my blog; after all, my musings are about so much more than ESL.

And so ESL Musings became "Teaching Tidbits."  Why tidbits?  Because it's the tidbits that make it all grand. That delicious cookie is so much more enjoyable when we take small bites and savor each morsel.  Same goes with our journey of learning: we take our time, enjoying every moment, celebrating even the most insignificant gains, focusing on our goals and aspirations, but never losing sight of what we may discover along the way - discoveries that can either generate momentum or lead us to new avenues.

I'm a hopeless optimist who believes (and preaches) that we need to celebrate the tidbits.  It is in those little morsels that we find the real treats - the tiny sparks that can light up a forest.

So where am I going with this? I've lived long enough to learn that curve balls and blessings come out of nowhere.  So I'm keeping my options open. Forever learning and growing. Celebrating the minute as well as the grandiose. Living every moment to the fullest and sharing my reflections as I travel on this journey of teaching and learning, in the hopes that I may offer a tidbit of inspiration to those who read my pages.


Saturday, January 2, 2016

Reap with Careful Thought

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At the end of December 2014, I learned of the One Word movement and was quickly won over.  Like many folks, I used to make my list of New Year's resolutions from weight loss to exercising to financial management and quickly lost momentum once the new year was well underway and I returned to the daily grind.

"Prioritize" became my word for 2015 as I attempted to improve on time management, in order to spend more quality time with those so close, but often so far.  In early January, I put myself on a 21-day social media time-out, as I was prioritizing my time in order to meet my "one word" resolution. During this time, I not only became closer to my loved ones, but I also had time to reflect and learn about myself. I found it refreshing and liberating to stay away from social media, especially Facebook. However, I also learned that I need to give careful thought to choices and decisions, whether serious or casual.  You see, no sooner had I decided on that word than numerous other words came to mind causing me to second guess myself and lose focus.
As 2016 was fast approaching, I found myself again pondering on my word and perusing through #oneword tweets.  The more I read, the more unsettled I was about the word. I thought and I prayed long and hard. I also read scripture and these verses shown here popped out at me as if there was a message being conveyed.
Yet still no "one word."

So on New Year's Eve, I sat down and wrote a reflective post about 2015 and published it.  As I've done many times, I reread and edited my post a few times after sharing it out. As much as I try to scrutinize my posts before publishing, there are always a few errors that I (or a friend) will catch after they're published.  And it was during this process of rereading and editing that the phrase "give careful thought" and the word "reap" seemed to speak to me.

As I stated in my last post, last year was a time of planting, of sowing, of cultivating - a time of preparation for growth.  I feel that 2016 will be a time to reap the harvest and produce.  However, I also know that I must "give careful thought" to my choices and decisions, whether they are pivotal or seemingly insignificant.

I still have no idea what the future holds and how that growth will play out, but I am looking forward to carefully considering and reaping the harvest, whatever that may be.