@ddmeyer 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? Whatâ€™s changed?
— Michael Fenton (@mjfenton) February 27, 2014
I’m reposting Michael Fenton’s question here, less because I’m interested in you seeing my answers and more because I’m interested in seeing yours. Ignore his five-year qualification. If your motivations for blogging have changed over any stretch of time at all, let us know why.
In 2009, I blogged because:
- I wanted a record of what I taught and believed about teaching that I could reflect on and laugh at later in my career.
- I needed a community. I taught in a rural district with five other math teachers (two of them married). Fine educators, but they were in different stages of their career and had answered a lot of questions I was just starting to ask. I needed people.
In 2014, I blog because:
- I want more interesting questions. In 2009, I was asking questions about worksheet design, PowerPoint slides, and classroom management. By articulating my questions and noticing which of them created vibrant discussions and which of them fell with a thud on the bottom of an empty comments page, over five years I have moved on to some questions that make my work a joy to wake up to every day. eg. What do computers buy us in curriculum design? What does good online professional development look like? What does it mean for students to think like mathematicians and how do we scaffold that development? What is the “real world” anyway and what does it buy us in math class?
- I need to stay connected to classroom teachers. I’m fast approaching the date where I’ll have been out of the classroom for longer than I was in it. Which scares the hell out of me and keeps me asking for advice from real life classroom teachers on this blog and reading, like, five hundred thousand teacher blogs every day.
A readership is more essential to my goals now than it was then. If you guys aren’t tuning in and pushing back at my ideas and offering your own, those ideas get a lot dumber. (In 2009, by contrast, I had 120 students to let me know when my ideas were dumb.)
So a lot of what I do in my blogging lately is try to send you signals that I read and value and act on your responses. (See: the recent confabs; featured comments; putting the word out on Twitter that there’s an interesting conversation brewing, etc.)
Perfect encapsulation of all of the above: this week’s circle-square confab, which featured 62 comments from a pack of great teachers, creative task designers, and math education researchers.
That’s why I blog now. Why do you?
I started blogging way back in 2012 because I needed a way to reflect. I was in a very, um, rough patch in my teaching career and needed a way to get some thoughts out there. I was reading all kinds of other blogs and seeing what others were doing, stealing material from people left and right. Therefore, my blog was a way to thank people for giving me cool stuff.
Fast forward to 2014 and things have changed. Iâ€™m still reading blogs and stealing left and right, but Iâ€™m also trying to give back a little. As information kept pouring in, I started to get some ideas of my own. Sure, some of them are awful, but Iâ€™m proud of Barbie Zipline and some others. At this point, itâ€™s still a 70/30 take/receive deal, but Iâ€™m all for it.
I feel like Iâ€™m currently struggling to answer this question â€“ which is probably why my blogging rate has been downwards of around once a month these days.
So many of the good teacher moves are invisible, and as I begin to blog I aim to capture some of the techniques that I have used to engage students. I often pass along worksheets and activities for teachers to use, but sometimes what I really want to pass along are the questioning techniques used throughout the lesson, along with a structure to ensure that students are discussing mathematics instead of working in isolation. Blogging allows for this extra commentary.
When I started blogging, I desperately needed to validate my experiences. I was teaching in big olâ€™ NYC, but at a private school with just one other math teacher. I needed to know: Was my teaching weird? Was I actually figuring things out about teaching, or just headed down my own idiosyncratic path? I wanted to say things that made sense to other people, so that I could be really sure that they made sense to me.
My blog is for figuring things out, so that someday Iâ€™ll be able to help teachers and kids out in a real way.
I used to blog because I felt like I was coming up with some innovative lessons and I was learning some new approaches.
Recently I havenâ€™t blogged because Iâ€™ve been handicapped into traditional direct instruction lessons (through resources and student culture). Maybe when Iâ€™m not in a different school every year (or when Iâ€™m excited about the school where I teach) Iâ€™ll start blogging again.