Sunday, October 18, 2015

Thoughts on Blogging and Retirement.

In what seems a lifetime ago now, I taught high school English and English as a Second Language.  I loved teaching English.  I especially loved teaching English as a Second Language.  Towards the end of my career as a classroom teacher, an opportunity came along that allowed me to expand my professional experience by going to the local University to create a program to train teachers to become ESL teachers.  While this meant that I would have to leave the secondary classroom, a place where I dearly loved being, I changed the course of my professional life  and left the classroom. 
Sally teaching high school English
at Centennial High School
Pueblo, Colorado
At the Colorado State University-Pueblo, I wrote curriculum  and developed a program that would lead to an endorsement in Linguistically Diverse Education.  I loved the diversity of my new position.  I researched. I wrote. I recruited students. I taught classes.  I became a part of the larger community of others across the state who worked in the Linguistically Diverse Education field.  It was all a wonderful experience.  

Then, I retired.

I began this blog as a way to keep me writing as I began retirement.  I had no idea what direction the blog would go.  I even had a hard time naming my blog because at the time the only identity I could come up with was that of a retired English teacher. 

I had visions of using the blog as a place to record my thoughts as I launched into a new phase of my life.  I had established a consulting business and began to do a bit of professional development in the area of helping content area teachers teach English language learners.  That was my passion at the time.  Even in retirement, I did not think I would ever want to give up working with teachers who wanted to learn how to best serve their linguistically diverse students.  I hoped my blog would reflect my passion for my field of professional experience and expertise that I hoped to continue throughout my years of retirement.

A funny thing happened on my way to working after retirement.  After a few years of doing that, I didn't want to do it anymore.  I wanted to spend more time with family.  I didn't want commitments.  I wanted to read, to write, to garden, and I wanted to do all of that in my own way on my own time schedule.

My blog became a place where I wrote about random thoughts, memories, and experiences.  It had no focus.  That seemed to be just fine with me.

Now, having been retired nearly ten years, I have thought of renaming my blog.  I question how much my writing reflects the persona of  "retired English teacher."  I sometimes wonder if the title puts a lot of pressure on me when I write in a more public format.  After all, I really have to focus on my grammar, my punctuation, my sentence structure and all of that. Sometimes, I groan out loud when I see the mistakes I didn't catch before I published a post.   

When I began this blog, I had no idea how my world would expand as I began to read blogs and to make blogging friends.  Blogging opened up a new world that many of us never knew was out there before we started blogging.  I love reading the posts of my other blogging friends.  They keep me interested because they are all so  interesting.  

At times, I wax and wane as a blogger due to family demands, health issues, and other interests, but as I don't plan on abandoning blogging anytime soon.

Perhaps, blogging, as one form of writing, is important to me because of the reflective piece that goes with it.  As teachers, as learners, as writers, we find that we are most effective when we practice reflection.  I recently came across Peter Pappas' work on what he calls the Taxonomy of Reflection
His model really speaks to me as I think about blogging and retirement.

… to reflectively experience is to make connections within the details of the work of the problem, to see it through the lens of abstraction or theory, to generate one’s own questions about it, to take more active and conscious control over understanding. ~ "From Teaching With Your Mouth Shut
by Donald Finkel

 Certainly, retirement is an ongoing field of exploration for me.  One way that I make sense of my journey through retirement is by writing as a reflective practice. 

Most of my writing takes place in my journal, but I also appreciate that I can reflect upon, write about, and read about retirement though blogging.  This blog continues to serve as a place where I explore the public expression of my private writing.

I can't imagine my retirement life without blogging in it.