Thursday, May 27, 2010

A Time To Reflect Upon Receiving Email

Alright, I will tell you upfront that is going to be a long post (you probably know that already by glancing at your screen). As we draw close to ending another school year here at our awesome middle school it is inevitable to not do some reflecting. I have been meaning to reflect on several things, but with the chaos that life has been lately I just have not had time. Today, time stopped and my “A-HA” or confirmation moment happened. I received an email today that confirmed my belief in the super awesomeness of middle school kids at a time when they are absolutely crazy. Before I get to the email and post the request of this student, I want to share with you my thought process as time stood still for me and allowed to stop and reflect on who I am, what I do, and the decision on whether not my actions are worth it.

I started this blog last year as a way for my social studies classes to communicate with students from Australia. We did some other basic things like watch Greek Olympics through Lego stop animation, but nothing more than that. It was simply a test run. On August 11, 2009 when we started this school year I decided to post book reviews. This was going to be my connection with students that I was missing in my new job as talented and gifted teacher without a set class. Over the course of the school year leading up to today (5/28/10) I have made 389 posts (this one would be 390), made 79 YouTube videos, created a Dailybooth account, held an online book club discussion with Jennifer Brown of the powerful novel Hate List, worked online with the super cool and amazing author Jacquelyn Wheeler (and had my name mentioned in the book), and created and had fun with multiple bloggers and students through challenges and various activities. I don’t state all this to toot my own horn, but I state it because I had no idea that so much would happen over the course of one school year. I have had over 30,000 visitors to my blog with almost 20,000 of these visitors/hits coming from outside of my school (I would think it would be opposite). I have 54 followers and people have accessed my blog from the following locations(the numbers represent different cities within the country):

United States (US)1,856 Canada (CA)62 United Kingdom (GB)60 Australia (AU)33 Philippines (PH)13 Sweden (SE)12 New Zealand (NZ)12 India (IN)11 Germany (DE)10 Spain (ES)7 Netherlands (NL)7 Malaysia (MY)7 Brazil (BR)7 Mexico (MX)7 Turkey (TR)6 France (FR)6 Russian Federation (RU)6 Ireland (IE)5 Hong Kong (HK)4 Europe (EU)4 Trinidad and Tobago (TT)3 Norway (NO)3 Indonesia (ID)3 Jamaica (JM)3 Portugal (PT)3 Thailand (TH)3 Romania (RO)3 Argentina (AR)3 South Africa (ZA)3 United Arab Emirates (AE)3 Serbia (RS)2 Italy (IT)2 Japan (JP)2 Denmark (DK)2 Sudan (SD)2 Taiwan (TW)2 Israel (IL)2 Poland (PL)1 Switzerland (CH)1 Lithuania (LT)1 Ukraine (UA)1 Austria (AT)1 Slovakia (SK)1 Czech Republic (CZ)1 Belgium (BE)1 Hungary (HU)1 Morocco (MA)1 El Salvador (SV)1 Puerto Rico (PR)1 Saudi Arabia (SA)1 Sri Lanka (LK)1 Singapore (SG)1 Chile (CL)1 Kenya (KE)1 Bahamas (BS)1 Bahrain (BH)1 Bulgaria (BG)1 Slovenia (SI)1 Greece (GR)1 Korea, Republic of (KR)1 Pakistan (PK)1 Tunisia (TN)1 Croatia (HR)1

I look at all of this data in my reflection for one reason. Why do I do this? What is my purpose? I don’t do it for fame or recognition (although it would be nice to be famous for my thoughts and posts). I do it because I need an outlet. This is my release. This blog, my videos, my random things I do don’t feel like a job. I feel like this is my platform to release my geeky, nerdy, chaotic thoughts that roam my head. There are times when I thought about just shutting it all down because I wasn’t sure that this was what I should do or had time for. However, I could not stay away. It was and is my addiction, my passion. I look to the summer and I have many goals and changes that I want to bring to this blog and my online world to prepare for the next school year, but I also have times where I think about just not doing it all until next fall. That is until I received my email today from Frankie. Frankie is a sixth grader. Frankie leaves comments to my posts. Frankie corresponds with me via the blog. Frankie is a faithful nerd clansmen to the blog. Frankie has taken everything I have spent time writing about here and washed it all away to showcase the real reason that I do this. I do it for that one person who notices, who likes it, and hopefully finds a connection. Maybe I am making this out to be larger than what it is meant to be, but I cannot express how proud I am of a student coming forward to share this email and passion for writing when nobody asked or offered any incentive. Here is the email and yes I have approval to post this.

Dear Mr. Maurer,

This is Frankie, a sixth grader at the school you teach at. I was wondering - do you know of anyone who loves to write and is looking for a good challenge? There are these (I wouldn't call them competitions, but they are sort of like that) things called WriMos, which is short for Writing Months. Such as the base foundation for many of the WriMos, NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). They are all about writing a set goal for yourself (the automatic one is 50,000) and write that much in one month. I did one in January (JanNoWriMo) and, since it was my first, set a goal for 30,000 words in 31 days. I did it, and had an immense sense of achievement for myself as a person with my perseverance and myself as a writer for getting a decent plot to go along with.
The basic thing is to get a daily goal and get it each day. It is difficult, and I lost some sleep for it, but it was all really fun. There are forums on each site (links at the bottom) that people can speak on about their writing and get encouragement from others. Also, not all of the WriMos are for writing novels. There is one called Screnzy (Script Frenzy) where you can write things like stage plays and screenplays.
Anywho, I found it fun and was wondering if you would pass it on. I follow your blog, so I was wondering if you could write something about it there.

Frankie ] ] ] ]


"I love talking about nothing. It's the only thing I know about." - Oscar Wilder

Speechless!!!!!!!!!! Yes, a sixth grader who set a goal to write 30,000 words, accomplished the goal and for what? A grade? Money? Any extrinsic reward which we all know does not work long term (just read Drive by Daniel Pink). No, none of these things except for pure intrinsic motivation and sense of achievement. How wonderful? To work towards something on her own time, her own goals, private and away from school. Who knew about it? Not I. No, but Frankie has filled me with hope that there are so many amazing kids who walk the hallways full of amazingness. Could I pass this information on about writing for Frankie? YES!!!! She beat me! I could not complete my goal when I was writing for NANOWRIMO, but I have been working on my book so in the end it worked out. Frankie, this post is for you and all the other amazing kids who have talent and intrinsic motivation to push themselves to a new level in whatever avenue they are pursuing.

So, who else is interested? If you like to write, then please leave a comment or email me. It would be cool to form a communication among everyone and maybe create a writing circle/group. I have offered for Frankie to write a post for the blog for me. Who knows if she will or not and in the end what does it matter either way? I hope someone responds and maybe you will begin to write without ever letting us know. That too is okay. That is why I write this because all along I have had people like Frankie following my blog (thank you, thank you) without me thinking much of it. I hope I have made an impact in some way. And in the end it is all worth it because we have the power as humans to affect others.

To wrap all of this up into two sentences I would say this – My motivation to keep this blog going is due to that one person, that one Frankie in the world who likes it and takes something away from it even if it is just a laugh to start the day off on the right foot. And please let Frankie (via my blog or email) know if you are interested in writing because it takes courage to come forward and share a passion like writing at the middle school level. Good night and good luck.
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