Once again, Dan Meyer has me thinking. This time the blame can be passed along to Michael Fenton. Michael raised a question on twitter. His question to Dan was
Could you have written a list of 5 reasons you blog 5 years ago? And a list of 5 reasons you blog now? Lists match? What’s changed?
As usual, Dan’s page is generating some great responses. You can jump to that page here.
As I write, I am on my first day of spring break. It is a quiet, beautiful morning on my mom’s back porch with everyone else sleeping. Let’s see if I can make sense of this question.
I am a relative newbie to this blogging business. My first post was in the first week of July 2013. This is my 58th post. I started reading blogs with some regularity and subscribing to them a few years ago. The first one I subscribed to for regular delivery was either Dan’s blog or Sam Shah’s. My memory is not sharp enough to recall which was first ( Edit – A little research shows that I subscribed to Sam’s blog in Oct 2010 shortly after relocating to NE PA). I was living in NJ where I moved after leaving FLA. While I was in FLA I was enrolled in a program to earn a doctorate in education. I was taking night and weekend classes while teaching full-time and raising a little boy. I even took a year off from the classroom to be a grad assistant and full-time student. I worked on a super cool research project looking at arts integration in schools and was feeling super energized by the reading I was doing, by my classmates, and by my professors. We headed off to NJ where I was going to carry out my dissertation research (where I was lucky enough to work with this guy as one of my research participants) and I worked with a really inspiring Associate Head/Director of Studies and some other good colleagues there. But, once I was back in the classroom walls, I started realizing how much I missed the level of conversation from my graduate classes. As most of you reading this know, we spend TOO much of our time in our four walls closed off to our colleagues. As many of you have probably experienced, there is not much in the way of structured time during the day where we can have meaningful conversations about what goes on in those walls. As a math teacher, I get too much semi-snarky jokes when I try to talk about my class at the lunch table or in the faculty lounge. There is something about the pace and structure of our days that seems to work against built-in reflection time. So, I found that time and space out on the internet. For a few years I read blogs and occasionally commented on them. I finally took the plunge last July and started my own. In the fall when the MTBoS blogging initiative kicked in for its second year, I was all in. I even took the plunge into twitter based on one of the challenges presented there. That must have been in October. Since then I have sent out almost 1300 tweets. All but about 50 of them have been to people I know only through my math experiences or through their blogs and tweets. The majority of them have been sent to people I’ve never met. Through these experiences, I have had the pleasure of being invited to my first EdCamp – with another on the way. I have been invited by the amazing Tina Cardone to take part in a workshop presentation at this summer’s Twitter Math Camp, I have received tweets as answers to questions from Ketih Devlin and Steven Strogatz, I have shared amazing lessons from people I’ve never met, I have pestered my colleagues with emails and document attachments that I have gathered from the web. I spend the first 45 minutes or so of each morning (after I feed the cats and start some coffee) reading my email alerts from the previous night, scanning what might have happened on twitter after I fell asleep, and checking my wordpress reader. I go to school every morning thinking about something that I might not have thought of on my own. I look forward to this quiet time in the morning before my family wakes up as a time to wake my brain up and recharge it. It’s a way to improve the lives of my students and to help ensure that I don’t feel stale and bored. I am in my 27th year in the classroom and I feel as energized about it as ever and I think that much of the credit belongs to a world of people I’ve never met.
So, I realize that most of what i have just said explains why I read blogs and prowl twitter. Why do I write my blog? A much simpler answer. I think that there are two reasons.
- I want to give back – at least a little – to this rich world of ideas.
- I want feedback on my ideas as they develop.
Not profound, but it feels good to chime in. Now, I’m off to breakfast.
Great post. I think the question in the title is an excellent one. I have conversations with people often about “why blog?” or “why use social media?” and I think it’s the interactions like the ones you describe which are the real answers. I think writing, taking time to think your way through your ideas, putting them down on (virtual) paper, and offering them to the world is really important. For too long teachers have been on their own little islands, disconnected from their professional peers. We are starting to figure out how we can join together. It’s awesome!
A wonderful post, it has me thinking of my last year in the classroom, where I was feeling a little cut off from my colleagues in a group I had worked for through the county office of ed. We had finished the year before and I was missing those conversations, which in turn fueled my passion and creativity. When I took my current position, it has exposed me to the K12 spectrum and I have learned more about education and teaching than I ever could have staying where I was at. It’s amazing how energized you can become when you surround yourself with people who care about education, about students, and about being the best you can be. I, for one, am glad you decided to take the plunge, I enjoy reading what you have to say and the occasional comment as well. Have a wonderful Friday.