I am a teacher. Whether I currently have an assigned group of students that I “own” or whether I’m working in education or not, the role of “teacher” has always defined a large portion of my personal identity. And like most great ideas, the one to write a blog, to share my thinking through writing, began with students.
Last year, I was working as a high school English teacher. As I observed what was happening in my school community, in my hometown, and across my state, I remarked that I wish I had a forum to be a truth-teller… a place where I could express some of what was rattling around in my brain.
“Dugan, you should just blog about it” was the response. And yet, as a public school employee, I didn’t feel safe enough to do that. One brilliant student, and another IT savvy neighbor, went as far as to share ways that I could write anonymously… you know like protesters in China and Syria were doing to stay alive. But this didn’t feel appropriate. I wasn’t blogging anonymously to protect my life, but to protect my status in my school community. And what kind of hypocrite would I have been? Telling students that writing was “thinking out loud” and to be truthful, when I was going to hide behind hidden IP addresses and dummy accounts?
So I waited. And I did more thinking.
Then, I decided to leave my post as a classroom teacher and begin a new role. Surprisingly, this has allowed me to reevaluate the purpose I have in writing, and as always, those same students have challenged me to “Just do it already.”
My Facebook group page with my former students from AP Literature even had a role in the title of this new endeavor. I asked for suggestions, an industrious student created a poll, and the title was born. “Chiaroscuro in Real Life” was a close second, for the record.
The reason behind the title will be coming soon. As will continued musings about teaching, education reform, school communities, growing teacher leaders, and of course, books. After all, I’m an English teacher.