In college and professional sports, there is something known as the sophomore slump. Essentially, it boils down to this idea: a freshmen or rookie who is relatively talented can be successful in their first year, partially due to the fact that their opponents haven’t played against them before. Their opponents might not focus on them defensively, and the rookie’s moves are new or different enough to make a bigger impact on the game than expected.
Of course, the sophomore season is much different. Opponents have had the opportunity to play against them, often multiple times. Now they know what to expect, they’ve adjusted their game plan. The sophomore, in turn, must make adjustments to the opponent that they did not expect.
A few weeks ago, I started my blog, hoping that a few people might read it. With the help of twitter and a few generous teachers, I received a few likes (not just from my parents) and retweets and, suddenly I was feeling pretty good about my writing. Maybe it is good. Maybe I’m better than I thought. Maybe I can be the next George Couros or AJ Juliani. Maybe this can turn into a book. I almost had 100 views on my page in a day.
One of the reasons I was so reluctant to join twitter in the first place was the addiction I had seen kids go through, worrying about their likes and retweets and other social media data that determined their success. I wouldn’t be that person. Black Mirror’s “Nosedive” episode made me even more unlikely to go down that route. Yet, after just a few likes and retweets for my blog, it was clear that my dopamine levels were soaring (see Simon Sinek’s take on this here).
And then I put out my last blog. It came to me quickly, words flowing, the confidence at an all time high. People are going to love this one, I thought. I posted it with high expectations. Late Friday night was probably not the best time to post one of my longest blogs, but I figured it was just a matter of time before a few people found it and shared it with the world. Then…
Nothing . . . . No responses at all . . . . Not even from my parents . . . . A few days later, I’d get a response or two saying they liked it, but I was truly let down. I had hit a slump.
Now, I’m here. My stats are down, visitor and view numbers are abysmal. Just like the rookie who, all of a sudden, can’t score. What is my adjustment to my mini-slump? Write. I’ll take the advice of AJ and George Couros and get back to the basics. Just write. Reflect. Share. Who cares if people read it? (I do. Bad question.) Stick with the system. Don’t let it fizzle out.
For three weeks, I’ve been feeling great about the connections I’ve made, positive about the direction I’m heading in, and closer to some of my education goals than I’ve ever been – even if it’s only a small step in that direction. One thing that surprised me most when I started this Innovative Teaching Academy was how many teachers in this group felt like they had nothing to say.
I tell my students all the time in reader’s workshop, it is almost impossible to read without thinking. Just write down what’s in your mind. They hold the same fear that what they want to say isn’t valuable. I would say the same thing to any teacher who doesn’t think they have anything to say. It is almost impossible to teach everyday without finding something to say. We see some of the most amazing moments every day: the moment a kid makes a friend, the moment the tough kid breaks down in tears and shows their softer side, the moment a student’s eyes and face light up because of the compliment you gave them. Allow those moments to empower you to share. Your ideas are valuable.
I’ll keep sharing mine, and I’m excited to keep reading yours.
P.S. The goal for this blog was to just write, since I had taken a couple days off. Because I stuck with the system, rather than worrying about the goal, it led me to what is probably a mediocre blog. It also generated, however, two new ideas for blogs that I didn’t even consider before writing this.