Some might say that the distinction between the "real" world and the "digital" world is not worth making. I'm not there yet. Not even close. In fact, I'm nurturing the distinction on purpose because when I engage with the digital world, I'm doing what comes most naturally to me. That is, I'm thinking, typing, chasing ideas, connecting texts . . . all while sitting behind a desk. For me, these actions are strengths, but I don't want to become, in the words of Gill Corkindale, "blind to the shadow sides of these strengths."
The shadow side of my strenghts, played out, will lead me to drive my professional life like a video game: shooting off emails, watching trends rise and fall in digital dashboards, tweeting out links to blogs that reference other blogs. There's something unsettling to me about the fact that I might someday exist as little more than a series of well constructed emails, tweets, or blog posts. I work with honest, witty, tough-minded educators. When I'm in a room with them, they laugh with me and at me. Sometimes they gasp, guffaw, or grunt when I speak my mind. Sometimes they pat me on the back or shake my hand. They cheer for me and call me out and make me better every day. We have a great time together, on behalf of the students we teach, even when the times are not so great. Incidentally, I also work with a terrific group of students -- this hasn't changed in a decade.
When I sit in my office and think too much, I miss too much. When I'm writing an email to a colleague, I'm not mixing with the community or picking up on what the community really needs. Much of my success or lack thereof has to do with my ability to be truly present with another individual or a group of individuals. Blogs and tweets are great, but they can't challenge me or even channel me the way a group of teachers or students can. They can't answer the direct need of a particular student living through moment by awkward-and-alive moment of high school.