Thursday, March 30, 2017

I'm having an identity crisis, Part II

In struggling with finding a "niche" with My Bucket of Parts, I've had conversations with a fellow blogger that has a strong niche.

He's a daddy blogger. There's a crazy market out there for mommy and daddy bloggers. I even follow a daddy blogger on Facebook -- not for parenting advice, though. His niche is super-specific: He's a single dad. I'm sure his parenting advice and stories are on fleek, but I just use him for his memes.

So, wallowing in my self pity one day about not having readers, my daddy-blogger-friend told me that I already had a niche, that I'm a teacher -- there's my built in audience! I'm a journalism adviser that works with writing and design and photography and the First Amendment. And while this is all nice and true, that's not my only outlet.

I was a writer long before I stepped foot in the classroom. That's where my identity goes to first.

But he made a good point and the seed was planted.

I do have a niche!

While battling with finding readers for My Bucket of Parts, I've been saying to Wifefriend that I want to become the Middle School Journalism Guru!

There are plenty of high school journalism advisers out there that do crazy-amazing things, but, when I look for resources, they're all aimed at high school. Nothing is really out there for junior high or middle school journalism programs.

The reason is: those programs don't really exist.

If anything, they are after school clubs that create the yearbook and work on broadcast projects.

So, if I need anything aimed at middle school, I have to create it myself -- or take high-school oriented content and adapt it.

To take the "I create it myself" one step further, one summer, I sat down and created an entire workbook/textbook that I had printed and handed out to my students. I looked up and down for the best name I could find for it. It needed to be something special, something other.

"The Journalism Manual" wasn't going to cut it.

Somehow I stumbled upon the Latin phrase: vade mecum. It's pronounced vade-y mee-come. It means "a book of ready reference" or "a handbook or guide constantly kept around for consultation."

YES!

And so The Vade Mecum was born, and I've used the book in my classroom for four years now.

Then, it mutated. I started to work in professional development on my own. I started to experiment more in my classroom. I removed the desks and chairs from my room. I started to speak at more conferences.

I realized that the Vade Mecum didn't just have to be the manual I printed.

The Vade Mecum was, for lack of better words, me.

But that sounds amazing! Why should that cause you anxiety?
It's another feather in my identity hat.

I'm not just My Bucket of Parts. I'm also The Vade Mecum, and they can't be combined. One is my teaching personality that can be followed by my school district. The other is my author side.

Some day they may be combined, but not right now.

And so I continue with two identities. This should be fun, right? This should be a place for me to jump back and forth, to switch it up!

But alas, most days I think about both identities and get a bit panicked.

As The Vade Mecum, I could sell some of what I create online for Teachers Pay Teachers. I should be blogging more about teaching, and not just teaching in general, but teaching journalism to middle school students. I should create an Instagram account that's only for my teaching persona and try to show off and be amazing!

The Vade Mecum, like My Bucket of Parts, has accidentally become a brand.

So, I bought a web address for it: www.vademecum.pw.

What's a .pw?

Originally, it was the web address country code for the Pacific island nation of Palau, but for some reason, it was taken away and rebranded to "the professional web."

For $9 a year, I thought it was a cheaper and unique ending to my Vade Mecum experiment.

Now that some money has been put toward it -- like the cost of two Frappuccinos -- I want it to become something.

My daddy blogger friends was right, I do have a niche, and I could do much with it.

It's just...well, how much do I do with it?