Over the weekend, I noticed the Challenge Within a Challenge post and started strong. I commented on 10 blogs right away because I know how much I look forward to the feedback from other writers. Then, Sunday was crazy busy and I was barely able to post, and the same holds true for the past couple of days.
This got me thinking about the goals and purposes of this challenge. For me, it’s almost a test of will, of commitment to stay focused and disciplined to write for the duration of the month. Last year, was the toughest for me by far – and I think it’s because I forgot to link-up on something like March 2nd or March 4th. Knowing that I had “missed it” already was just about enough to make me throw in the towel. But I kept at it, sporadically, and all was well – there were posts I loved and those I didn’t.
Over the years though, there has been a shift for me, and I’m curious to know if I’m alone or not. I am absolutely, 100% committed to the idea of sharing and spreading the love for reading, writing, blogging, and slicing. I have shared the success that both my students and I felt during this month-long challenge in countless conversations with friends and colleagues, as well as during professional development sessions I’ve presented on blogging.
It’s funny because, I originally started this post with the feeling that somehow, there were so many more participants now, and how we used to have more comments on our blogs. But then, I looked back. I read through some of my old posts with maybe 2 or 3 comments, sometimes 1. Then, I visited the archives of the same year at Two Writing Teachers – and I was shocked that there were 170 comments on one post, and maybe 163 on another. In my mind, that first year I sliced, there were maybe 30 or 40. Time has a funny way of changing your memory of things.
As this challenge grows, just as things sometime happen in our classrooms – projects taken on lives on their own and they become much bigger than we can comment on and actively participate in given 100+ students. What do we do? How do we go adjust and adapt to the new “big-ness” of the project or challenge? How do we encourage those who are ready to rise up into leadership positions? How do we make learning more than “an assignment given to students, but a mindset held by a community of learners?”
It got me thinking about how technology is changing the way we interact with one another. On the one hand, without the technology, this challenge wouldn’t be as possible on this broad a spectrum. On the other hand, is it possible to connect meaningfully with such a large number of people? I think yes, but I think it might require a change. The greatest slicing experiences I had were those when I was reading and commenting on a certain handful of blogs for the duration of the challenge. We would converse through comments and follow-up emails. And the greatest moment was meeting for breakfast in Chicago at the NWP Annual Meeting. Putting faces with names and real people behind their blogs was amazing.
Is anyone else equally ecstatic and simultaneously overwhelmed to think about connecting with so many other slicers? All too often, when I feel that tension, it practically paralyzes me. So, what are you doing to make connections within this reading, writing, blogging community?