Saturday, May 16, 2015

What's My Thing?

This post was written weeks ago... 
I didn't want to post it on my professional blog, then realized it belongs here.

Possible titles for the rambling here…
I’m in a funk.
Emotional Roller Coaster
Silly Thoughts
Why are you reading this post?
I should’ve just put this in a journal.

An editor at Stenhouse contacted me with the possibility of writing a book for them. I sent the email to my love, and he wrote back, “It was only a matter of time.”

Stop. No. We’ve talked about this before. I won’t ever write a book because everything is already written, and I just steal ideas and use them in my classroom. I don’t create anything new. I have no ‘grand idea’ to share. I’m a curator. I collect great ideas, try them in the classroom, and then share out.

But why not? Why not talk to this woman and see what she has to say? There are plenty of teachers out there who haven’t seen any of the ideas I’ve seen. A week later, I was on the phone with her, letting her know what I thought I could write about. She asked me to create an outline. I wrote one, she tweaked it, and I got started writing a book. I was writing a book. This idea totally went to my head, although I didn’t realize it until a few weeks later.

I told my parents. I told two confidantes at work. I told my students. I thought it was a great mini lesson when I told them that the editor made myriad comments to my first chapter that I revised diligently. When I went to visit Paul Solarz’s class on March 13th, I decided to not tell him. (It wasn’t a sure bet anyway...) He was going to be publishing his own book in a week or so! He showed me the cover and I was so very excited for him!

One week later, I received an email. My first rejection letter, I suppose. I wrote about it for my reflection for my 7th graders, and I shared the fact that I was not going to stop. I had already written five chapters. I was going to continue writing! Even if I don’t find a publisher, I can say, “I wrote a book.” How many other people can say that? Isn’t this something everyone dreams of at some point or other? Isn’t it what so many of my Twitter pals are doing - successfully??

Paul’s book came out. Of course I ordered it. It’s been sitting on my stack of books for a few days now. I want to learn from it. I want to take his ideas and run with them in my classroom. Why haven’t I picked it up? Well, it could be because I was reading a fantastic young adult novel (I’ll Give You the Sun, by Jandy Nelson) or it could be because my next professional book is supposed to be Assessment 3.0 (and I’m on chapter 4 of that one). But here’s the real reason: I’d want to write what Paul wrote. I’d want to put it in “my book.” A thought came to me: I suddenly don’t want to continue writing my book. Too many other people have so many stellar ideas. I want to just learn more from others.

Another discussion with my husband today helped me once again. I won’t lose what I’ve written. No one is taking that away from me. I just don’t want to continue down that road at this moment. I’m much more comfortable learning from others. So maybe I won’t ever write a book. Is that so terrible? As Bob loves to say, “Hell no.” Realizing this, I entered a new phase. I wondered, “If I’m not going to write a book, what’s my thing?” I was feeling like a failure for giving up.

All of this happened within the span of five weeks. Just five weeks of my life, and suddenly I think of myself as a failure. Aw, forget Carol Dweck’s Mindset ideas and research. What do I do well? I dabble in everything. Photography. Blogging. Baking. DIYs. Crayon art. I mean, really. What do I do that impacts others? How will I be remembered? What’s my THING? I don’t think I have one.

Gotta get out of this funk. Do I need a "thing" to be remembered by? I remember when I first got on Twitter. It became about getting followers. Then I decided I had to blog like everyone else did. Now I feel as if I need to write a book - just because "everyone else" has? I consider myself a writer, but I’m going to drop this book idea (for now). I’ve GOT to read Paul’s book - this week! It’s calling out to me. Before I do, however, I have to figure out - What do I do well? What’s my thing? I need to write about this so I can move on. It’s silly of me to stay too long in this funk, so I’m realizing what talents or skills I’m grateful for. I’m taking Angela Maiers’s advice - I’m going to realize my genius and do something with it.

I curate ideas. I’ve created many documents that are now crowdsourced, so we can learn from each other. The LiveBinder is currently my “claim to fame” regarding Genius Hour. Need an inspirational quote? I’ve got quite a few. Want some writing prompts? You’ve come to the right place. I collect - virtually. Thank goodness I have a small house, or I might collect more physical items - other than books! Ask me for something, and if I don’t already have it, I will try to find it for you (and then add it to my collection)! It's been suggested I make this site subscription based, so I can earn something from it, but then many people would not be accessing it, and it was meant to be shared.

I try new things. In the classroom, my students help me with this. They are my inspiration, as it should be. Even if we fail, I know we’ll learn from it. Online, my Twitter PLN helps me with this. I began blogging because of them. Writing a book is still a possibility because of them (remember our conversation at #EdCamp302, Avra??). At home, my family helps. I hear a lot of “Sure. Why not?” which I hear myself saying every day at school.

I look on the bright side. If it’s difficult, I do things like writing this post - or talking it out - or singing at the top of my lungs - so I can get out of any silly funk I’m in! I wake up optimistic. Every new day is a blank slate, and anything could happen! I steer away from complaints and encourage and share the positives instead.

I stick with ideas that work, and ditch ideas that don’t. I’ve been making a day-by-day calendar for my husband since we’ve met. He knows what he’s getting each Christmas - a gift of blood and sweat! My brownies and cupcakes will always be from a box. When I purchase a piece of clothing, a piece must go to Goodwill. I will keep a care bag in each vehicle at all times. The book idea isn’t working for me right now, so it will be kept in my Google Docs sleeping, and I will stick with blog posts. The Easter bunny cake I created last year took WAY too long, so this year I went back to chocolate-covered strawberries. I do what works, until it’s time for a change.

I love. I love my husband more than anything. My students and family are second. I don’t hold back when it comes to letting them know how much they matter. (I need to get better at this with more staff at my school.) I enjoy sharing how much I appreciate the little things in life. “Gratitude” is still my “one word.” I was reminded of this today when I was in this funk. I’m an emotional girl - I let myself feel. Thank you to my loved ones for letting me be who I am, and accepting me as such the fool - especially on days like this when I’m on an emotional roller coaster and too focused on myself.

Update - July, 2018
Shift This was published by DBC Inc. in May of 2017. It has since sold over 6,000 copies. I guess i stuck with an idea I thought might work, even though I didn't think it would ever be published. I just went for it and asked them what they thought. This is still a crazy ride I'm on, and I'm still very blessed and thankful to be living this life.