A Personal Retreat

I am connected. I am out there. I blog. I tweet. I am part of a PLP (Powerful Learning Practice) cohort at school. I am connecting my students with other students and experts. I spent some time Friday evening following live tweets from Syria for my Middle East elective. I check email religiously, maybe even obsessively.

I am an extrovert. I naturally process best externally by talking things out. I have a noisy classroom where I encourage student voices. Most of the time, I have a hard time with silence.

Yet, sometimes I crave the silence, and the chance to focus on one thing. When my family cleared out of the house for a few hours today, I did not catch up on reading the blogs I have been meaning to read (my apologies to those folks). I did not catch up on my Twitter feed, where I know there were fabulous ideas and resources waiting. I even only checked email twice. It seems that nobody needed me desperately after all.

I read a book. Recommended by my friend Cristina, The Swerve took me back to the dawn of the Renaissance and then even further back to the world of the ancients, Greece and Rome. I found myself slowing down, reading every word and taking in a distant culture where manuscripts were copied by hand – a few steps removed from our digital culture of instant publishing.

Retreats have come to mean going off with a group of people to work on a specific task away from the crowd. Today I needed to take it a step further by retreating away from the digital crowd. I am emerging more centered and focused. Maybe next time I will even forgo email.

We owe it to ourselves and our students to model quiet spaces and focus. The world is awfully noisy. I love the connections as much as anyone, but sometimes we all need to unplug for a few hours. Can we help our students find these moments, even in our classes? I am all for collaboration, but maybe not all the time. An article reminding us of the introverts in the world gave me pause earlier this week. My Saturday reminded me of the value of introversion even for an extrovert, who feels the need to blog about it.

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4 thoughts on “A Personal Retreat

  1. I used to hold a “media fast” experiment in my 7th grade Media Literacy class. The students set up their own fast – decided what they would “give up” for a week, and then tried to find other ways to fill those spaces that were not media-related. Some climbed trees, some talked to their families more, some practiced neglected instruments, or drew, got more sleep, etc. The next week in class we talked about how we felt, what we missed, what we couldn’t live without and why, when we forgot we were supposed to be media-free, when we cheated, etc. We talked about balance – when is media a good thing, and when isn’t it? Here a great article from “Tricycle” magazine, about the mindful use of social media – I’m thinking of incorporating this into the class as well … http://www.tricycle.com/feature/ten-mindful-ways-use-social-media

    • I appreciate your ideas, Paula. I cannot help think that so much of what we teach is what we always did – balance – but that the things we are balancing are different. I will definitely check out that article. Thanks.

  2. I really enjoy your posts, Molly. They are always so thoughtful and reflective. Like you, I also teach history at an independent school, have children and a busy home life, process through immersion and discussion, and sometimes feel like I overload myself by diving into every media opportunity. Your last post was a great reminder of why I am beginning to blog and this one is a reminder to take breaks. I also appreciate Paula’s comments and am making a note to read the article she posted… tomorrow 🙂

    • Thank you so much for your comment. I sometimes wonder if anyone is reading what I write. I have found that writing the blog helps me to sort through the dizzying layers that are my life. It is always nice to know that others are juggling the same things. I am looking forward to reading your blog. Now – after having a relatively unplugged weekend, I am faced with trying to plug back in to see what needs to be done for today and this week!

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