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Re-finding my blogger’s voice

This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.

This school year has been off to a challenging start and I have not been able to keep up with my routine blogging. In some ways I have been re-finding my blogger’s voice.

I have taken on a new role at my school, Beeber Middle School, as the School Based Instructional Specialist (SBIS). This position was created through the School District’s Empowerment School Initiative to provide additional support for schools struggling to meet AYP targets. SBISes serve as school level instructional leaders providing peer coaching, delivering professional development, and modeling best practices.

Leaving my traditional classroom has been bittersweet for me. Similar to being a classroom teacher, the role of the SBIS is all consuming. But now I am wondering how my new role will impact what I blog about. Will I be able to talk about the strategies and struggles of working with teachers? Will I be able to blog about ways to creatively comply with the District’s “Empowerment” mandates? Will I be able to blog about the under belly of school operations -and keep my job-?

My previous blog posts, although not all situated in my classroom, were informed through my passion as a classroom teacher, innovative educator, and parent advocate. In looking back at some of my posts, the most authentic ones were often about the exciting classroom projects I did with my students. As an SBIS will I be able to convey an authentic voice in a new way, as a peer coach and facilitator of school-wide reform?

In my introductory Notebook blog post, I indicated that teaching and blogging in particular portrays me as a small “p” public figure. I am hoping to continue sharing my passion for arts in education, media literacy, and the challenges of working in a complex urban school district. However, in addition to representing my own voice, I hope to represent the authentic voices of seasoned and novice classroom teachers. Maybe I will even have a few brave teachers guest blog with me about our professional collaborations.

In my old classroom I used to have the quote “know thy self” boldly displayed on the front bulletin board. This quote reminded me and my students that we needed to constantly ask questions and take an inquiry stance in the classroom. As I explore my new role as a SBIS, I am bound to uncover some things that will challenge me to become a more reflective teacher and learner.

Stay tuned to future blog posts. I am sure I will re-find my voice along the way.

If the topic “Finding Your Bloggers Voice” interests you, plan to attend a panel sponsored by the Notebook during the Philadelphia Writing Project’s Celebration of Writing and Literacy on November 6th at the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education. Dale Mezzacappa will serve as the panel moderator.

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