A million things are floating around in my head, and on my to-do list right now. But in the midst of all of it, I take a look at my “Archives” sidebar and see 12 months listed. Been blogging for a year. For real.
My actual Blogiversary is Aug 31, roughly three weeks from now, but still. New Teacher Orientation is August 11-12, less than a week away.
This is a good time to look back and think about what I’ve learned.
You know, Reflective Practitioner and all.
#1: Blogging is more for me than for anyone else (good thing)
I made a commitment to myself last school year that I would begin blogging. I was beginning my 13th year of teaching, had been actively reading some great math and teaching blogs for more than half of than time, and definitely saw value in the practice. First, as we tell our kids, writing things down helps to cement the learning. I’m a mid-career teacher and I am committed to learning something every day. When I made a rookie mistake on a set of activity cards I made for a class, I included it in my recap. When a lesson bombed, I owned it. Some of my favorite bloggers out there strongly recommend that blog posts are not just the “greatest hits” of glorious lessons and light bulbs going off, but included the hows and whys of the disasters. Especially the whys.
I’m a numbers guy, and let’s be honest, in the age of social media, if you aren’t keeping at least a passing glance on numbers (followers, likes/favs, RTs, blog hits) you are either a liar or super-human in your humility. Our kids gain at least a little of their self-worth by thumbs-ups. Hell, I overheard my youngest son practically begging for comments on his youtube page late last school year. I feel at least a little bit like everyone who sits at a keyboard is probably seeking an audience they aren’t getting in real life.
In a little under a year of blogging, I think I’ve posted 40 times, and the Class of 2017 at my new school will have more graduates than I’ve had blog hits. But that’s OK. Because…
#2: Its good to have a place for thoughts to spill out
There’s a lot of crazy stuff in there that needs a landing place. Especially one that almost nobody is gonna see.
My desk at work is best described as “organized chaos”. There’s a place for everything, and everything’s in its place, but the average person walking by would look at it and go “Man, what a mess!”
Thing is, I know where everything is. And, I have a routine in place at the end of the day. Everything I need for the morning is set out the night before. It’s kind of a personal motto: You Can’t Leave The Building On Friday Till Everything Is Prepped For Monday. John Stevens and Matt Vaudrey, authors of The Classroom Chef, would call it “mise en place“.
Kind of the same thing with reflecting and blogging. Writing it down here gives the clutter of my day, my lesson, my brief flash of inspiration, a place to stay. And, I know where to find it when I need it.
#3: It gives me some legit goals for the new school year
Looking back on 40 posts, I’m pretty pleased at how things turned out, without a plan. Mostly, the events of the week would coalesce into A Theme, which would float around in my head for a bit until it became A Post.
For the 2016-2017 school year, I’m thinking seriously about starting to drop some events of the day at One Good Thing (subtitle: “every day may not be good, but there is one good thing in every day”). Quite a few of the #MTBoS crew post there on the regular. And as much fleeting personal satisfaction comes from a good bitch session, sharing out the good is much more beneficial, long-term.
Also, hoping to post more materials and post-mortems. To the extent that my fellow teachers do find and read this blog, part of the reason we all do this is to share what we’ve made, done, and learned, so others can critique, and improve upon. I’m down.
Speaking of #MTBoS people, I’m teaching Algebra 2 this year for the first time in about 6 years. Realistically, I’m teaching it for the first time since I started this quest to get better. I’m really learning to teach it all over again. Julie Reulbach of I Speak Math has organized a willing group of teachers to share their thoughts at the #Alg2Chat hashtag, and I get the feeling I’ll be spending some time there. Because sharing is caring.
Two turntables and a microphone. Here we go…