Saturday, 23 February 2013

We have a dream

We have a dream for you, which is also something we wish for ourselves. Something we too are working toward as learners.  But still, we want it for you.  And we are here to help. Model. Push. Listen. Reassure. Learn. Inspire. Wait. And wait patiently.  

It's a dream that involves the long view. One that looks at fear in the face today.  Not to fight it or deny it. Not to be ruled or be defined by it.  Instead, acknowledge its existence and use it to make smart and creative decisions from the parts that make fear healthy. In fact, the dream involves a decision and work toward unlearning the default position of fearing the unknown. To expect it (the fear), deal with it, use it to our advantage. Not be paralyzed by it.  In the long view, you/we still take risks and go out on a limb even if you/we are afraid.  Because past the fear are epiphanies, redemption, growth, expression, thinking, new learning and perhaps, deeper understanding.  Beyond the fear is a chance to get to know the unknown in an intimate,  non-threatening, healthy way.  


Just like the world wide web.  


Yup. The internet can appear like an intimidating, public black hole of judgement.  And it can be mind numbing and scary.  But it doesn't have to be that way.  I mean, we do need to be careful while we traverse its virtual halls.  We need to think about what we say, do and write when we represent ourselves online.  We need to have a civilized way of being.  We need to know how to create, build, share, love, collaborate and connect and be ourselves as best we can, in the best way we know how.  Which is not so different from  how we need to work on that in our physical spaces and material lives.  Think UWCSEA profile, right?  To be the best people we can be on and  off line.  It's all part of digital citizenship.  

All of it is real.  

But to NOT engage with the conversations, ideas, connect with others' and see how their thoughts help yours and vice versa, not to be part of this sharing culture because it's scary...well, now, that's scary.  

Like I said, we have a dream and visually, through this  info-graphic, the dream (long view) looks like this...


the dream

Which brings me to a point...the blogging.  :)  I know I have been quiet about it for awhile.  And I did that on purpose.  I wanted you to know how serious I was about letting you take it where you will.  That even if I love assigning things for class on it, that it was YOUR space. A  space you could define, design and furnish as your possible online home that goes beyond English class.  That the stuff we assign there from time to time was just a small part of it.  

I know, it's been a complicated process. The creation of the spaces, the encouraging, the building, the things we posted as teachers, to the silence, to the intensity, to the lulls, to the waiting, to the figuring it out.  After much reflection, Mr. R and I re-realized that it's really about this dream and not really about the blogging. To us, as your teachers,  it is the creation of opportunities for you guys to be part of an education that's active, relevant, real world, effective, hands-on, networked, innovative, personal and transformative.  That's it.  That's what the blogs are for, in a nutshell, in the big picture, in the final analysis.  

Anyway, I noticed (with my classes) and you can also read this post by Mr. R to see what his kids think about writing/sharing for and to a wider audience, that many of you have embraced the space; invested in it like precious real estate, claiming it as a permanent address.  I've seen it as your primary go-to url on your Gmail, Instagram and Twitter accounts. I see that you use it because it's a space you are comfortable in.   Others are using it as a summer home, occasionally spending time to express this or that when inspiration hits.  Then taking weeks off at a time to do other things like log your reading (just kidding; but not really) or focusing on schoolwork that needs your undivided attention because those tasks are marked and assessed, unlike the blogs.  Then there's the bunch of you who want to write or share but don't know where to start or maybe need more structure or prompting from us (nothing wrong with that), some who want to write but don't have time, some who have a gazillion drafts of interesting posts but are too scared to 'put it out there' because of the dark voices in your head that tell you they are not good enough (um, please cast those thoughts away).  And then some who will use it and only use it when things are assigned, some who use it to improve writing, refine thinking, share thoughts you weren't able to at the table, some who thought it was supposed to be a certain way (like a space purely for bearing your heart and soul and things that make you vulnerable - um, where did that come from?), some who just want to read others' stuff but are not ready to write, some who hate it, and finally, some who are still figuring it out what it's for.  

And really, all of that is fine.  

Wherever you are in this blogging business/connected learning spectrum, we honor it. Respect it. See it. 

We hear you.  

We understand that these spaces of trust take time. That the dream, needs to have a long view.  That it has to have a lot of people who support it.  An authentic community that believes in and won't give up on it.  An acceptance that it's a complicated process of pushing and pulling and leaving things alone sometimes.  That we are all at different spots and stages in the journey toward connected learning.  And whatever spot is an okay spot to be in.  

I hope you hear us and believe us too.    

So, after all that 'research' and reflecting and reassessing and thinking and talking about it all with Mr. R, we thought it was important to keep on keeping on.  To softly encourage some, to leave some people alone, to build trust, to create some structure for others, to read and comment consistently on those blogs that are already permanent homes and well, to continue to provide opportunities for the dream to come true for everyone and in different ways.  That's what we can do.  

So, for now, here is a first step for us to differentiate and respect how you have chosen to respond to this online space.  

Are you a regular blogger who enjoys reading and writing posts, but feel that you are limited because there are only three or four people in your class who actively blog? Do you wish you knew who the other bloggers are? The ones in other classes? Well, we have an idea...

We discovered that there is an existing community of bloggers amidst you and  by subscribing to Blogging Beyond Class  from Mr. R's class and this bundle, Blogging Begets Blogging  you can can see who these students are across our classes.  Simply click on subscribe and your RSS feed will be full of posts from students who have taken blogging in and beyond English class. You might find your name on that list, you might not.  The only criteria we had was to see who blogged beyond English class at one point or another...and look like they are comfortable with sharing more.  Correct us if we are wrong, okay.  

Oh and you do not have to be a blogger yourself to subscribe. Maybe you just want to see what people are sharing for now.

And, the second step -- wondering how you can be added to the list?  Simple:


Start blogging! Read, write, comment, share, connect! 


We'll be here either way.  

So, thoughts?  Would love to hear from you. Comments welcome below, as always.  
Have a great Sunday.  

42 comments:

  1. Dear Mrs Paula,
    I just read this inspiring blog after some chinese homework and you inspire me so much, your writing, your poetic advice. I love it. I wish I could write like that...... Maybe someday.... I need to practice..... Anyway, with the blogs, I use it quite often, write about food, make people jealous... :) or write about my trips to Cambodia or New Zealand. It's fantastic, your space, like your own world, everyone can see. You just have to merge yourself into a bubble far beyond the 'outside' world. Thank you so much for this uplifting post. Have a great Sunday and see you tomorrow!! :)
    Love Celia

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    1. Thanks for your comment, Celia. Means a lot to me.

      Yes, I love that you have designed and defined what your online space can be to you and nobody else. Love it. It's so wonderful to read about your thoughts and adventures in and beyond English class. Thanks for sharing and for being open and positive. And the writing, yes, that comes with heart, commitment and time. Glad we are working on it together. I really believe in you and your voice and your heart, I see it. Keep on writing. :)

      Ms. P

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  2. It's interesting that you mention blogging. I've just realized how little I have blogged over the last few weeks! In a way, this post sort of epitomizes everything that I've felt has been put out there to us this year in English.

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    1. Shantanu,

      I was thinking about you when I thought of the blogger who has a lot to say, has a lot of drafts but is waiting for it to be a certain way before posting. So my advice...just do it. Press publish. You have a great mind and a distinct voice. Would love to hear more from you more often...really. Not just through your amazing work at the table but also through your online space. :) Go for it.

      Ms. P

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    2. thanks :) I'll try writing a new post now. See where it gets me

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    3. Love your attitude. Keep on keeping on. :)

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  3. WOW! very inspirational blog post, and some great information for us. I really like the dreams image, really cool. Going to start to blog some more!

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    1. Rohaan,

      You have no idea how you and your blog also inspire me. Your post on stress and the black holes -- both warmed my heart. It showed me that you were getting it. That as much as you are an amazing and determined student, you also have a lot to say, share, think aloud about. Yes, keep on writing. :) Would love to see how your blog will continue to evolve.

      Ms. P

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  4. Dear,

    I just want to ask for advice from you about the dream. Before I had a really specific goal, but nowadays, I feel so confuse, I have a lot of things come to my mind, and it makes me confuse about what is my real goals. What can I do when I am in this situation?
    Anyway, I also want to ask for some advice for the blog post, sometimes I really want to write something for the blog post, but I do not know where to start and how to start it. Thanks

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    1. Hi Danit,

      Thank you for your comment and your openness. Wow. Let's see...why not combine both of these things -- your goals and what to write about? Sometimes, writing about what is confusing you is a great place to start. The writing might help refine what you are thinking or feeling. I find this works for me a lot. Writing helps me put what is bothering me on 'paper' and after having done so, helps me realize a few things, clarify what I am feeling, helps me decide what to do next. Sometimes, the writing just makes me feel better. Like I put what I was thinking and feeling some place safe and sacred.

      Come see me tomorrow. Maybe during the Monday 'Helping Hand' lunch session in Mr. Raisdana's room so I can see where you might want to begin and help you move along...what do you think?

      In the meantime, turn your computer on. Click New Post and just start writing about all these things you are thinking about...I can check your draft tomorrow so we have a place to start. :)

      Ms. P

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  5. I love how you compared dreams and the internet. It was a very interesting way to think about both in a completely different perspective. As I read this I actually found myself nodding slightly, especially in the first parts, because I could really relate to what you were saying. It's very true, I do find the whole idea very intimidating and whenever someone asks me about my dreams, my future, silence drops on me as I don't know what to say. But thinking about the internet and how I go on it everyday, digging deep into things that interests, I realized that it really is exactly the same as finding your passion and dreams.
    Thank you, Ms Paula,
    That post has really drawn a whole new picture for me. :)

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    1. Dear Molly,

      Thanks for your comment.

      Let me first say this here again that I really love how you use your blog and always look forward to reading about your thoughts and ideas on life and your learning. Your online home is coming along nicely. Thanks for inviting us in and letting us hang out.

      Also, it's sincerely what we want for you guys. To be able to explore, traverse and connect in our classrooms - both physical and virtual - without/beyond/past the fear of being judged. To have spaces where you are unafraid to be yourselves as you go out and find your voice, your passion and the fulfillment of your dreams. This is our dream for all our students. I guess, it's up to everyone to see if this is the medium for them to do it or at least try it out.

      Like I said, either way, we are here. We already believe in you. We are listening.

      Finally, if I haven't told you this in person, it's been great having you in class. I have seen so much growth. So much passion for learning. So much openness. Thanks for that. I am really proud of you and your class on so many levels.

      So with that, keep on writing, sharing, thinking aloud. Let me know how else I can help.

      Happy Sunday.

      Ms. P


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  6. It is so interesting and very deeply mention.

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    1. Thank you for your comment, Namleng. Let me know how I can help with your own vision for your blog, okay.

      Love,
      Ms. P

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  7. I love this post, it is very interesting and has been deeply thought out!! I agree with you when you say that when we write in our blog it doesn't have to be deep and emotional (and not to mention make someone elses heart break and have them on the floor crying). I love how you compared dreams to blogging, it really made it so insightful and helped me to understand that beyond fear there is unexplored places which we can express and enjoy; the same as the internet. I really enjoyed how you write so poetically and although your posts are always humorous, they send a really inspiring message that always gets me thinking, and improving. This is really going to help me to start righting some more, and maybe even come out of my comfort zone a little bit. Thanks :)

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    1. Rom!

      So glad you liked it. And yes...the space doesn't have to be anything but what you want it to be. It can be personal, it can be literary, it can be your daily musings, it can be all of that. The trick is to make it YOURS. Let me know how else I can help you with that. Help with leaving your comfort zone a little. Great things happen when we take even a few steps from what's comfortable and familiar. I know this from experience. Haha. Yes, teachers have fears too .

      Also, I would so love to see what else you write. You have such great ideas and insights and stories. Would love to see how you use the space to share these.

      Thanks for your comment. You are a lovely soul with a big heart. Keep on writing. Looking forward to seeing your voice take shape and grow. :)

      Ms. P

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    2. Thank you!! :) This will definitely going to help me write more on my blog!

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  8. I really like this post, Its got alot of thought into it and it is very very inspiring, you made it really insightfull and had some really valid points that I agreed with. I really liked how you said that we didnt have to write something meaning full and deep. I especially liked when you talked about using the space in a manner that we can create ours. "A space you could define, design and furnish as your possible online home" that made me feel confident in my blogging .I do try to blog frequently, but from now on may the speed be doubled!
    Thank you :D

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    1. Zoe,

      Thanks for leaving a comment. I really appreciate it.

      And yes. I have seen your Tumblr account and your posts. You have so many things to say; such unique world view and I would love to hear, read, see more of it when you are ready. I am glad your find this inspiring because it is from the heart. So, keep on writing, sharing, connecting. Looking forward to it. :)

      Ms. P

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  9. Wow, I thought nothing could have made this sparkling post shine even more, but I was wrong. To hear these comments and see your passion come through is truly inspirational. Thanks to Ms. G and all of you who took the time to comment.

    Remember we are all here together, those of us who believe in the dream of a more connected and artistic world.

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    1. Yay, right!
      Thanks, Mr. R. You are inspiration to all of us.

      Pau

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  10. Hi Ms. Paula,
    I loved your blog post, it inspired and motivated me to be thinking about life and the world and also to try and share my thoughts more often. I live a pretty hectic and busy life and I do not blog as much as I used to, I think that it is a shame because it is a great space for us to learn, write and share everything and anything that we think that someone else would like to hear. I should make more of an effort to blog but life just goes by too quickly (: Promise that I will write soon though ...!

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    1. Hi Ella,

      Thanks for your comment. Glad the post made you think and reflect and reconsider reigniting your online space again. I loved reading your thoughts and ideas, and looked forward to seeing your photos. Maybe you can carve some time to write beyond English class again. :)

      Ms. P

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  11. I think that's it's a great idea to have this setup because this will now also motivate people to go there and when people subscribe to these blog posts, when they read them, they will all realise how easy it is to write an amazing blog post because i've realised that to write a good blog post, all one needs is an idea and motivation and inspiration. The blogging begets that has been setup will give all of these to people who want to blog. I really think that our blog is a blank piece of paper, waiting to be a great drawing and now we just got more colours to make our piece of art.

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    1. Hi Pallav,

      Exactly. You totally see it and get it. :) So good luck on this blogging journey. You sure are on an awesome track.

      Ms. P

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  12. I think blog is a space that we share something to the others,but sometime I don't know what can I share or what to write in to my blog.Sometime when you gave me a topic to write a blog post,I don't really have any idea to write and my writing is always lost direction.It is a big problem to me.
    Thank you for your compassion to me,Miss Paula.
    Namleng

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    1. Hi Namleng,

      Thanks again for your comment. Why not come see me on Monday during ' Helping Hand'. We can talk about different options and ways you can get over your writer's block. Let me know, okay.

      Ms. P

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  13. Dear Mrs.Paula

    I really loved the idea of blogging begets, but i just wanted to ask one thing. Can we see who has subscribed to this? I know that many people have liked the idea and that people have subscribed, but can we maybe see who has subscribed?

    thanks
    Pallav

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    1. Good question. I am actually not sure how to trace who follows which blogs on their reader. We can do a survey maybe after some time. Or you will just see more activity as people read more posts and get into the habit of commenting on each others' spaces. Let's wait and see. In the meantime, keep on writing, okay.

      Ms. P

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  14. I found this a very interesting blogpost Miss Paula. The fact that you were talking about dreams was very helpful to some of us 8th graders who are moving into high school and deciding about what we want to pursue in our life. One thing that I learned from this blog is that peer culture can effect your dreams and hopes in life. Thank you for the great blogpost!

    Harjot Deol 8GUp

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    1. Hi Harjot,

      You're welcome and thank you too. Glad the post made you think. And yes in a few months you guys will be on a new journey. How exciting. In the meantime, reflect and see how else you can prepare, reach out and learn. Nurturing your online space just might surprise you. :)

      Ms. P

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  15. Ms. Paula,

    I think that out of the other blogposts I saw, this was THE most inspiring post I ever read. I just can't take my eyes off of it; I noticed as well that what if there is not much bloggers on my list that are being active? I always imagine about the things you say.

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    1. Hi Nathalie,

      Thanks for your comment. And I am glad you have been inspired by it. Are you interested in writing more on your blog? Let me know how I can help you with that. :) Thanks again.


      Ms. P

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  16. I really enjoyed your blog post very inspirational. Not many people blogging but would love to keep writing more

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  17. I found this a very well written blog post. It was deep at heart from which you were writing. I loved the image of the spider diagram because it was creative and informational. Thank you for adding me to your bundle but I have not written in a while.

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    1. Hi Court,

      Thanks and let me know if you start writing again, if you'd like to be put back on the bundle. It's also okay to subscribe to the set so you can read what people are writing about too. :)

      Ms. P

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  18. After reading this blog post I have understood the bigger picture about using our blog. Everyday. Every hour. Every minute and almost every second a thought pops up in my mind, and some of it I find really interesting that I want to express to everyone. But whenever I think of a way to share my thoughts nothing comes up in my mind. It just goes numb. But after reading this blog post I have remembered that our blogs are the tools that are used for connecting everyone's thoughts. So I can go ahead, right?

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    1. Karitkay,

      Yes! Of course. Go ahead. Use the space as you know how. :) It is YOURS to build, furnish and nurture. Looking forward to your future posts.

      Ms. P

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  19. Wow, Ms. Paula, great post! You and your posts have always inspired me since I joined UWC about 2 months ago. I love reading your posts as they always give me a second perspective on things. Recently, I have been obsessed with adding gadgets to my blog and designing it. But when I read this post, I realized how useful this blog could become, in terms of the actual blogging part. I am really excited to start using my blog more often! I can't wait to share my feelings and thoughts in my own personal space, I can design and carve as you said. I hope i am ready, and I can't wait till my blogs will inspire people as much as yours does!

    Tahlia

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    1. Thank so much, Tahlia. Really appreciate you dropping a few lines. :) I am so so happy that you are excited about curating and designing your own space. Go for it! Let me know if you would like to be part of the "active" bloggers bundle and I'll be happy to add you to the list. Also, no pressure. Tell me when you are ready. I am very excited to see what you will share. Not only because I will get to know you better but because you are giving yourself a chance to develop voice. How wonderful is that!?!?!?

      Anyway, I am really stoked you are in my English class. Your energy is awesome and you have been such a great sport about keeping mum about some details of The Book Thief. I hope you are also getting a lot out of re-reading it.

      Keep on keeping on, okay. And what are you waiting for? Write! Share! Love!

      Thanks again, Tahlia!

      Ms. P

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