Based on my Twitter feed, one may not catch on to the fact that I am a Spanish teacher. In fact, I have been teaching Spanish consecutively since 1996. Prior to that, I taught Spanish from 1987 to 1989, at which point I took a seven-year hiatus to work in college admissions recruitment, followed by two years working part-time for a social service agency while I attended graduate school full-time in order to earn my M.Ed. in curriculum.
When I began blogging back in December of 2006, the majority of my blog posts focused on teaching in general, and teaching Spanish in particular. From 2008 to 2010, I created a secondary blog, which has since been disbanded, as a blog focused on all things Spanish and foreign language teaching and learning. However, the ordeal of maintaining two blogs – one discipline-specific, and one more social commentary-oriented, became too much.
There are plenty of blogs currently in existence which focus exclusively on the teaching of foreign language in general, and on the teaching of Spanish in particular, and I am grateful for and appreciative of those blogs, for I receive ideas and inspiration from them. And, I decided almost eight years ago when I began to blog that I would never be able to blog exclusively about Spanish, or foreign language teaching and learning. For me, teaching and learning have become so much bigger than my discipline: what I am striving for at this stage of my career is good teaching, grounded in culturally responsive pedagogy, and creating a learning environment of compassion and empathy. This is not to suggest that I have no interest in my discipline because I don’t blog or tweet about it with any degree of regularity, or, that I am any less of an “expert” in my field as a result of the aforementioned. Quite the contrary: I think about and reflect upon and read about and conduct research into my discipline, my classroom, my students, my teaching, and my students’ learning as a foreign language teacher and as a Spanish teacher daily.
And, perhaps this is the critical dilemma for me as an African American teacher: My mind, time, and energy are so often devoted to and spread incredibly and dangerously thin across so many educational interests, it’s any wonder that I am as vibrant in the classroom as I am. However, I am not just about my discipline. As a matter of human and educational survival, I cannot be just about my discipline. Sometimes, honestly, I wish I could; combining teaching Spanish and social activism is so very physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausting. On the other hand, I would not be the educator, or the person, I am and am striving to become, without doing both.