1) I've been applying for jobs. By "jobs" I mean work that I care about and like and that is paying. When I decided to take a break from the classroom to write, I gave myself a few years to study and be an apprentice of sorts. That time is up and, shockingly, I have received no offers to come be a master writer. I will certainly remain a writer and that will mean being a perpetual student of writing, but the apprenticeship is done. Unless I am doing it for my own edification or for someone or a publication that also does not make any money, I will not work for free or near-free. It just doesn't feel good and won't help sustain the profession for anyone.
Anyhoo, this all means I've been tweaking resumes, getting people who barely remember or know me to write me recommendations (sounds like a winning strategy, no?), struggling to write professional but not boring cover letters, and filling out the same information over and over again. This all takes time, especially when the process is punctured by rejections. Then I have to get through those and resolve to just work harder and to shut down the discouraged voice in my head.
2) For both my husband, and our families, education is akin to religion. This past school year, we navigated as parents for the first time high-stakes testing. I hope to write more eloquently and in more detail about this at a later time but for now I'll say we felt powerless, helpless, and angry as we watched our children feel angry, anxious, and wiped out from the testing experience (despite everything their school and teachers did to make it as humane and positive an experience as possible), for the first time counting the days until the end of school. It's worse than what I remember experiencing as a teacher, though this may be because I have taught mostly high school and high school students are more equipped to deal with the long, boring, stressful tests than are eight-year-olds. Needless to say, I am more convinced than ever that high-stakes testing must go. I'm done with being nuanced here. High stakes testing is awful and it stinks and it's making my kids hate school. It's awful for the teachers, it's awful for the students, and it's awful for students' parents. The only people it's not awful for are those in the testing industry, those in the testing-as-education-reform industry, and those politicians who rely upon one or both of those industries . My husband and I both see great value in assessment and testing and tell our children that part of life is being bored and anxious sometimes and doing things you'd rather not. We believe that for the right reasons, that anxiety and stress can be productive. But McTests are not one of those reasons. Our children are smarter than those tests, are more curious than those tests, love knowledge more than those tests, and they deserve better than those tests, and so does every other child who is having their education ruined because of them.
3) People close to you die, they get hurt, they end relationships, they move, they have celebrations. In light of those, your little old education blog and happenings that seem unrelated to your life become much less important.
4) Victoria Young once made the comment on a post of mine that:
To have a conversation about how to "fix" what is broken with the education system, we actually have to put ourselves in position to have real dialogue. That doesn't happen when it takes place online only.....I don't think she meant for me to, but I really took that personally, and it helped give me a good kick in the direction of re-prioritizing.
I took me a few months but I realize that I have grown tired of hearing myself talk and talk about the same things over and over again. I feel like I need to read more and to listen more and absorb more and think more and to do more. At a certain point all of this talk about education and education reform gets too meta, like I'm just talking above all of what's actually happening while it's happening without really knowing what's actually happening. Deep thoughts, I know. I love to think, talk, write education, but I'm not sure what or how much I'm helping any more. I'm trying to do a lot more reading and reflecting.
This is not to say I will not be blogging any longer. I have at least few more things to say, which I am working on, but I want to spend more time being useful, doing education rather than just talking education, and also perhaps find some time to focus on a bit more again on some of this writing and some of that writing.