Tuesday, January 4, 2011

A Me of Multiple Identities

The last two months have been absolutely crazy.  It began with a jam-packed November which included my first trip to the National Writing Project's Annual Meeting, held this year in Orlando and continued through Thanksgiving, the blur that was early December and finally the merriment and mayhem of Christmas and Winter Break.

Because Digital Writing Matters: Improving Student Writing in Online and Multimedia Environments (National Writing Project)I've decorated; shopped; wrapped; baked (to the detriment of my family); nurtured sick children, a sick husband, and a sick self; assessed students on a semester's worth of work; and spent way too much time on my new phone (LOVE that I can play Words with Friends anytime, anywhere).  But through the cloud of all this activity and chaos, my mind keeps returning to an idea I happened upon while in one of my sessions at the NWP Annual Meeting.  The session focused on the new book, Because Digital Writing Matters and the concept that struck me was that of multiple identities and how students today need guidance and instruction in terms of how those identities are formed and conveyed.  In the past, we had our various roles -- mother, teacher, church-goer, poet, friend, wife, and so on -- but to some degree we could control which of those identities others had access to and how each of these identities was presented.  Today, those multiple identities bump up on each other, overlap each other, become almost indistinguishable at times.  When I write a blog, its public nature means that my mom can read it, my brother, my husband, my pastor, my student, my student's mother, my aunt, my principal, my long-lost boyfriend from kindergarten -- and strangers by the thousands (or the dozens anyway!).  How do I acknowledge and respect all of these pieces of myself and still be transparent and sincere in what I share here?  When my audience is so broad, yet so potentially personal, how do I share my heart without crossing the line?

I don't have a clear answer, but I believe the best way to discover how to balance these multiple identities is to face the challenge they present as directly as I can.  I need to keep writing.  I need to keep asking myself how these readers of many sorts might respond to what I share, but I also need to remember that ultimately, I have to honor all of who I am.  I tell you, it certainly provides motivation to be a person of worth and integrity.  When each identity has its own space and expectations, we can rationalize the inconsistency of our attitudes or behaviors. When all of our identities are exposed at once, hypocrisies and weaknesses are much easier to see.

The multiple identities of Lucas: good, bad...you know the rest!
The Big Idea in my AP English Literature class this year is "Somebody Worth Being" and while I certainly intend for my students to grow in their reading and writing skills over the course of the year, I believe the most important learning will be in relation to that concept.  How do we become people of value and substance? Maybe it begins with all the parts of who we are making peace with each other so that we can approach the world with confidence and courage.  Writing is the way I make that peace.  How do you make yours?


Katie M said...

I can't tell you how much I relate to this post and how you feel conflicted about how to write and express yourself and your emotions without corssing the line. I love to blog myself and even when I write poetry and songs I worry about exposing too much of my personal life.
I love how you cleverly inserted your one little word which I will try to do throughout my writing as well!
Katie M.

brianna said...

The line between revealing your self to the world, and still having a little mystery to your life is one that people of all ages have a difficult time distinguishing. Too many times, especially in recent years as my high school experience has progressed, I find that too many people reveal details about themselves, little secrets that may seem harmful, spread across the school and end up hurting these people and destroying their lives (at least the ones they have currently). Where is the line drawn? I believe everyone should be able and has a certain duty to express their story, yet at what point is the helpfulness gone and the details too vivid? Yet, satying closed up is not the answer. I guess all there is to do is to TRUST that man kind can handle what there is you have to bestow upon it, because "We only have one shot at life, and it's a shame to spend it unhappy".

Kool-Aid Brigade said...

when i think of multiple personalities, to me it means a wider ranging audience. that's the beauty of everyone being multifaceted. who knows? maybe your long lost boyfriend from kindergarten is reading with approval? :]
when i have so much emotions going on at once, i like to write too. i like to sit with my lap top and go crazy all over microsoft word; the emotions just flow through my fingers and create words on their own. and when the lasts drops of my bottled up emotions drip out, i read what i wrote a few times before i erase everything (which now seems like a bad idea when i see your blog; i feel somewhat ashamed of not being confident in my multiple personalities)

my point is, if anyone should honor all of who they are it should be you. clearly you have something to say to the world so say it with confidence!

-brenda, period 4

p.s.- your son has the best grumpy face!

Kool-Aid Brigade said...

period 2! my bad x]