I haven’t touched these keys in a while and it seems strange and slightly foreign to try and type these words… like I’ve forgotten a piece of me, like my voice is gone.
Tonight I am slightly left of center, I’ve tripped and woken up in a muddy puddle. So I do what I have always done when I am a bit lost, I create.
I create art, I create stories, I create books, I create curriculum, I create blogs.
Now there are those who tell you that personal blogging is dead, that ‘true’ blogging remains in the unemotional context of dry educational pontification, foodie reviews and travel recommendations. All cleverly ribboned with marketing and advertisements for the digital consumer.
But just as I find in the classroom, it seems so in life- without a little love, no one really gives a damn.
Believe me, I hear your collective sigh, "Oh, here we go again, Tosca’s writing about love." But hold up.. gimme a bit.
You know, the act of creation is simply the ability to represent a problem, a thought, or an idea in a new genre and have others connect with it, feel it, and understand it in a way that matters. True creativity is sparked when emotional investment meets intent.
But what’s love got to do with it?
In my blog post The Heart of Teaching I wrote about how children in this dualistically globalized yet insular modern world need as much reassurance as possible. They depend on teachers to show them feelings are valid, real and important. In 14 years of teaching experience I have found that children do not want to engage in our adult world in which we obsess over our emotional misgivings and rules. They simply want to love.
So how do we enable that love?
Today for my Primary Years Programme Coordinator I quickly threw together some research and wrote up a provocation to get our teachers thinking about student blogs. My provocation read:
“A blog for students is a transdisciplinary way for kids to become empowered learners and connected, empathetic global citizens. It is a vehicle for sharing students’ unique learning journeys by providing an archive of experiences. It communicates their ideas whilst enabling them to find their student voice. It is a forum to extend literacy skills and a place to being to leave a positive digital footprint. It is a step forward towards students having greater agency in their learning.”
But in my haste I had forgotten something. Stupidly, without thinking, I forgot the love.
Blogging is a way for us to connect emotionally with our subject and trigger creativity and learning. This process is not just for students but should be modeled by teachers. Without our emotional investment in the teaching and learning happening within our classrooms, we will never inspire the creativity we desire to take place. But when students observe teachers who are able to be vulnerable, self-motivated and reflective learners, their willingness to take ownership of their own learning journey beings to flourish.
But is it just about our students?
I have often been accused of loving too much and trusting too soon. I have even been told it is an unattractive quality that is weak. The truth is, long ago I stopped seeing my self worth only in the reflection of the eyes of others. Now I see my value when I focus on what’s going on internally within my heart and mind.
My love is something that is mindfully given. It is a choice.
I choose to love my students and tell them so. I choose to love my friends and let them feel it. I choose to love my work, my calling, my purpose. I choose to sometimes be foolish and invest in risky things along my journey. I choose to share that sometimes my love leads to failure, to pain- but each of those are worth the immense reward of creativity and life-long learning.
And I reflect on my messy journey through my blog.
I think if we stripped down education and discarded policy, curriculum and expectations- if we turned our minds-eye intently to the very center of what we want our learners to FEEL and BECOME, we could not only change education but the world. We can pretend that student blogging is about higher order thinking, metacognition, global citizenship and literacy- and that’s somewhat true- but when we dig deep in that muddy puddle, down through to the clay, it becomes refreshingly clear that what we really want is for our students to fall in love with themselves, with others and with learning.
Tonight, my call to action extends beyond the classroom. It is for each of us to mindfully love our students and all those we interact with tomorrow. To love them as they are, and not for whom we want them to be. To give them opportunities to embrace their failures, to give them the chance to reflect and create, and to view them as valued, important and perfect at where they are in their journey. And beyond that, to go home at the end of our day and reflect on what we feel and who we have become. That's right, I challenge you to blog.
Because look at me, just like that, I’ve found my voice again.