This is a project that I have been thinking about for a while, and frankly, I’ve been too chicken to get started. No, I don’t mean blogging in and of itself; I’ve long posted my thoughts online, back before it was even called “blogging” and it was just “journaling.” The difference between then and now is that I am opening up these thoughts to complete strangers who will also see me twice a week: my students.
Colleagues of mine have been doing this for awhile, this blogging and having their students also blog and follow them, but the idea always made me cringe. Not because I am shy about expressing myself; those who know me really well often wish would shut up already and I’ve never been one to hold back on my opinions (whether asked or not). But these people know me well. When it comes to people who don’t really know me, I’m the kind of gal who values her privacy. I’m a people person to be sure, and for the past 8 years “going to work” meant interacting with people I hardly knew: first as a server for the many years I was in school, as a writing tutor in grad school, and then as a college instructor. And while doing these jobs, I’ve always kept much of my identity private: didn’t tell tables I waited on my life story like other girls I worked with, don’t tell my students much about my personal life, my likes and dislikes, that sort of thing. I’ve always adopted a sort of professional persona.
And I believe that we all do in many circumstances. Adopt personae, that is. I think it is part of being human, part of how we interact with one another, and a part of social conventions that we’ve just grown to expect. I definitely have my “professor persona,” where I dress more formally and conservatively, I watch my language, try not to say “like” so much, try to hide my opinions, let students think that I am the kind of person who spends Saturday nights reading (the irony of that is that I did do just that last night, but that doesn’t mean that I am always and only such a bore!).And I do so with good reason: when I teach, it is all about the students, not me. I know some instructors who love to talk about themselves with the class, and while I admire their openness, I also don’t want to create that kind of atmosphere in my classes. My classes are not The Rachel Show.
Still, it seems kind of strange, knowing that I am acting as a more mature, professional version of myself when I know that students are jumping to their own conclusions about me. And it seems unfair that I often ask students to write about themselves, to put themselves into their writing, when I try to keep as much of myself out of my classrooms.
So here comes my blog. All of my students are also keeping blogs as part of the semester grade. Don’t expect any kind of juicy-tell-all-behind-the-scenes-all-access kind of BS; for one, my life isn’t that exciting, and when it is, that’s only for the people experiencing it along with me to know. I will be using this space to share observations, musings, frustrations, questions, reviews, funny stories, and the like. That’s what I expect from my students, and so it is only fair that I do it too.
That’s another thing, my purpose behind this whole blog. I always tell my students that the only way to become a better writer is to keep writing. It is something that I preach until I am blue in the face, but not something that I practice. So while my aim is to inspire my students to write outside the classroom about their experiences, my hidden agenda is to force myself to write more.
I guess you could say that we’re all in this together.