I've rediscovered, in 2010, the community of concerned English teachers that I had connected with in the mid-nineties, when I needed lots of support to change my classroom style and method. The same discussion groups were still working posting and sharing, but after the mid-nineties I didn't need them so much, and I let my involvement drift away. I was pursuing other dreams, after all, using a bass guitar and music that was new to me. My time was eaten up in other ways. In fact, I became a support for other teachers who wanted to try new things. I've been re-discovering, as I compose my curriculum vitae during the past few days, that I presented at conferences in Albany, Cortland, and the Southern Tier quite often in the late nineties and early zeros. I gave a keynote speech! I hadn't exactly forgotten, but seeing it all listed on a page brings it to life for me again. I had ideas worth sharing, and I was sharing them with other English teachers.
Now that I've left my public school classroom, I have had time to rediscover the communities at the National Council of Teachers of English and to become involved again. I still need to spend more time in the English teacher Ning begun by Jim Burke and now expanded to rival the NCTE as a going concern. I will probably ask my students (pre-service teachers) to become involved in that Ning in January. Web 2.0 at its most productive, I think.
In 2011, I want to expand my professional communities to include teacher-educators, to gather ideas and sift theories about how best to prepare English teachers before they are teaching in classrooms. I also want to continue to read blogs by teachers of all content areas who do interesting, provocative activities in their classrooms with all age groups. I have learned much from those who think and write about teaching math, science, social studies, and the arts. It is almost like a game, seeing if I can apply what they say about their field of study to the work in reading and writing, speaking and listening, that students do in an English class.
Other communities? I'm not sure I can handle any more connections than that. I already spend so much time, or want to, on Facebook, where I have met up with childhood friends again, found former students who still have provocative things to say, college friends who have had marvelous and interesting lives (since we are all "of a certain age," "un age d'or," as someone expressed it on the wall of a woman celebrating a birthday yesterday). Keeping up with all of these communities will keep me busy in 2011, I think.