..because I’m not really restarting the blog.
Hello out there to anyone who ever read this blog. I want to apologize for abandoning it and explain why.
In moving from teaching high school to teaching community college, I had to go through the grueling process of tenure and promotion. As a professor, your work is divided into three compartments–teaching, service, scholarship–each of which is evaluated by a jury of your peers from your college. This evaluation determines your annual reappointment for six years, and in the seventh year you go up for tenure and promotion from assistant professor to associate professor. Tenure is like legal marriage–it’s a contract of long-term employment between you and the college/university–and this is most faculty members’ goal: to achieve tenure so that you can do your work without worries/fear of employment loss every year.
[It is actually more complicated than this, but suffice to say this is the gist of it.]
Every year an assistant professor submits a packet of their work in teaching, service, and scholarship to a committee for evaluation. Every November/December you get a letter from the college president telling you if you have been reappointed. In December of 2014, I received a letter that deviated from the normal form letter. It stated that I needed to stop writing for The Huffington Post and my own blog and focus my energies on peer-reviewed publications in academic journals or else I might not be reappointed the following year. The writing I was doing was not considered legit “scholarship.” I was upset, terrified, confused, and frustrated by this letter. It felt like a stab in the back after I had spent the first three years of my career as a professor building a new college with no guidance from anyone because all the faculty at the time in my college were junior, untenured faculty.
Needless to say, I abandoned this blog. I was already in breakup mode with Huff Post b/c it had changed hands and was getting a little disorganized, but I was sad to stop writing here. This space was how I processed my transition from high school teacher to college professor: it allowed me to think about my years of teaching high school, to reflect on the work I had done, to celebrate my students and how we learned together. As I read the posts today, I see how I was also able to process my early years of parenting with my own kids in the public schools and my victories and struggles–now my own kids are both in middle school and we have different challenges. When I read my posts I like them, but they also don’t sound like me anymore. I have changed in so many ways.
Thankfully, too, I received tenure and promotion in 2017. After abandoning this blog, I did focus on peer-reviewed publications and was successful. In looking back, I did need that nudge to push myself out of my comfort zone (this space), but I did not need it in the form of a punitive letter that belittled the work I had done. I fought to get that letter removed from my file for years with my union. The college–with my input–has since decided no advice should be given in written form to faculty on the tenure track in the annual reappointment letter as it goes in your permanent file. Instead feedback is delivered in person by selected faculty as a peer-to-peer review/mentoring/support. But, as founding faculty for a brand new college, we pay the price in many ways and this letter still remains in my file.
That explained, I am not sure what to do with this blog. I have kept it live for years, but I think I will possibly kill it next fall when I have to pay to renew the domain. I’ll let some new, upcoming educator have the readwriteteach name. I’m starting a professional website under my name–Lori Ungemah–which might have a blogging component someday. It’s still under construction and is one of my goals while I am on sabbatical this year. But, as I am sure many of you can relate, during my sabbatical I am also supervising two middle school kids’ online schooling, parenting a new puppy, and working in the same room with my husband who talks in loud-man-at-work-voice all day, so the my sabbatical work is a very slow trickle of productivity.
Thank you to all who read and commented way back in the twentyteens. Those seemed like easier times in many ways, even with their dramas, now.
Here’s to the 2020s doing a 180 and surprising us with how wonderful they can be. Yours, xo. lori