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Branding…or how to fit myself on a business card

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I attended a business networking event today. Not because I have a business to market, but to hear a friend speak.

The networking part of the seminar encouraged business card trading, and when we entered, we placed business cards in a fishbowl for prize drawings. Only one problem with this – I have no business card.

How does one narrow an identity down to 3.5 by 2inches. What do you include or leave out? I have many jobs or identities. The only one I get paid for is teaching. Does that make teaching my business and therefore should go on my business card? (I don’t see many teachers exchanging business cards.)

But many facets of my life or identity are not professional like: mom, pastor’s wife, writer, singer, and so on. These are just as much a part of who I am.

So the question really boils down to branding. What is it about myself that I am trying to market?

To keep it strictly professional, I could say Teacher/Writer. But then I feel the need to qualify…English Teacher? Writing Teacher? Blog Writer? Aspiring Writer? Despairing Writer? (Just kidding on the last one)

(Incidentally my husband often accuses me of overthinking things)

Attending the seminar today made me realize that I needed branding. And if I was serious about being a writer, I needed to claim it and not qualify. I am a literature teacher. I also teach writing which means I study and practice the craft with my students, and write on a regular basis outside the classroom, therefore I am a writer.

Maybe I can fit everything else in fine print around the border, just to be completely honest about who I am.

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Posted by on November 11, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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It’s “Go Time” for Teachers

I sit here anticipating a new school year with a stack of books beside me and a spirit full of conflicting emotions. The prospect of a new class of eager young minds excites even the most jaded teacher, but the reality of classroom management and apathetic students is what creates the jaded teacher in the first place.  

The start of the school year has always been exciting to me. As a child, I remember having all of my school supplies laid out and sorted on my desk the night before school started. A brand new notebook to fill with knowledge, inspiration, and doodles seemed almost as wonderful as any new toy. In high school and college, the new year or semester generated a clean start when I could once again strive for that 4.0. (Didn’t reach it very often, but it was the possibility that drove me.)

In one way or another, my life has always been punctuated by the school calendar. When my children were too young for school, I was still drawn to the back-to-school sales to buy notebooks, pens, crayons, paper, binders, organizing supplies, calendars, and whatever else struck me – oh yeah – like post it notes. Everybody does this, Right? Probably not. School, learning, and teaching are in my blood. No matter how hard I try to do something else, I always end up back in the classroom. 

So, here I sit: reading, writing, planning, preparing. Knowing that when I walk through the doors on Monday and face my students for the year, there is no turning back. There will be days I feel I nailed it and the students loved learning, and days the students would love to be anywhere else but in class talking about The Iliad, and nights of prep work and grading when my kids are clamoring for attention. There will be self-doubt and discouragement when the students aren’t as excited about Shakespeare as I am, and frustration when the MLA format that I have taught every.single.time I assign a paper still seems to escape their grasp. 

But at the end of the year, when I look back on all we have learned together; when I compare a student’s writing from the first paper to the last; and when I see just a spark of appreciation for great literature ignite under my students, I know I am where I’m supposed to be, teaching what I most enjoy, and passing that down to the next generation. 

Now back to the stack of books…

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Posted by on August 19, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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I make no resolutions

I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions. I haven’t always felt this way, but anything that involves me “resolving” to do something that I have been unable to discipline myself to do the many years I have been alive, seems to be a set-up for failure. There have been some years that I have purchased the obligatory gym membership in January, and other years I have bought a new journal vowing to write everyday of the year. We all know how this goes… By May the gym barely knows I exist, and the journal is buried under a stack of books and magazines with the last entry dated March 3rd and the entry before that is probably February 13th with the first line being, “sorry I haven’t written in a while.” (Who am I apologizing to anyway?)

The nature of my job and the fact that I have four children means our year revolves around the school calendar. Our “new year” really starts in September. I like to picture our year as a mountain with a lush valley and lake on the other side (not that different from our natural habitat). We start up the mountain in September and it is a grueling climb fraught with promise. School and sports schedules control us with the trifecta of holidays looming ever closer. The powers that be might want to revisit the idea of having Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas all within two months of each other.

In the course of our climb we lose sleep,  get cranky, and want to give up, but we keep going because with each week and holiday we pass, we are that much closer to the top of the mountain. November and December pass quickly filled with food and fun times with family. By the end of December we feel almost comatose. Then we reach January. January is the top of our mountain. The routine is set, the rest of the year is downhill, and sometimes we can even see the plush valley below that I like to call summer – ah, summer!! The most refreshing word in a teacher or child’s vocabulary.

With the fall behind us and the holidays over we can take a deep breath and prepare for the downhill climb – which in the nature of the school calendar includes several relaxing breaks.

The downhill climb is much more conducive to breathing and thinking. Having time to breath and think enables me to put my priorities in order and make positive changes in my life. I usually have time once again to exercise, get my house in order, and even read for pleasure. But, don’t get me wrong. These positive changes are in no way “resolutions.” I make no resolutions except to arrive at that lush green meadow in one piece and bask in the sunshine while trying not to think about the next mountain that looms on the other side of the valley.

 
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Posted by on January 14, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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