Regular readers of this blog will have perhaps noticed the complete silence in this space since around January of this year. This particular post is an attempt to dissect why a reasonably regular, once-a-month edublogger would drop off the face of the blogosphere and Twittersphere.
Let me start by saying that I’m not the only one. I’ve seen a decent number of Tweets and posts that basically have the same message: where is everyone? By “everyone” we are referring to those educator friends that we’ve connected with online. We just don’t connect as much anymore. Twitter has become a place to promote your particular brand or organization or to sell your latest book. The rapid-fire exchange of ideas between educators is still there, but the signal-to-noise ratio is tipping in an unfavorable direction. Maybe it’s also because I found other things to do and other communities (looking at you XBox and Destiny) but I haven’t spent nearly as much time in meaningful Twitter chats as I used to.
But if I get honest with myself, I think the real reason that I’m not on Twitter or blogging about my life as an educator is that I don’t have anything new to promote. My use of student blogs and digital portfolios is a steady presence in my classroom, a comfortable and effective way to gather student work. My system of standards-based grading is quirky, but reasonably mature, having been tried and tested since 2010. I’m feeling like my classroom MacBooks look these days: mostly functional, but old and grimy, with a few missing keys. Nothing special to see here, move along.
So what is there to write about? What new wisdom do I have to pass on to you, dear reader? Is what I do as an educator worth writing any more about?
At this point, if you find this blog valuable at all, you (and I) need to thank a few folks for nudging me to pick up the proverbial pen once again, even if I don’t have any shiny new educational initiatives to sell you.
First, I noticed that people still read my blog, and even assign it as part of student projects. My blog stats led me to these teachers, who have assigned my internet famous SBG is (not) a Fad blog post as a resource for their students’ final Honors English project. It’s super rad to see teachers involve students in the debate around whether to switch to SBG. Great stuff, and I’m glad to continue to be a part of the discussion around grade reforms.
Next, just yesterday I got to build a robot with fellow teachers from some nearby school districts as part of a training for a robotics competition that I’ll be mentoring in the fall. Right at the start of the day, one my team members whom I had not met before mentioned that he reads my blog. Dang, an IRL person reads my stuff. I’d best get to updating the blog then. Thanks, Chip!
Finally, today I woke up to this amazing comment from a former student, Jeremy. Educators love to hear back from former students, which is especially true in this case since Jeremy spent a lot of time struggling to keep up with blogs and portfolios in my classes even though he is flipping brilliant. A short version of the comment would be something like this: keep doing what you are doing, it’s working. Or that’s my interpretation, anyway. But you should really read the comment for yourself, so click on it now.
I’ll leave you (for the moment) with a final thought: sometimes what we do as educators can feel trendy and hip and on the cutting edge, but that Edge will move away from us as new technologies and techniques arise. Deal with it. Take a close look at what is really working for your students and what isn’t. Wade through the shiny stuff to find that old, grimy core set of truths that got you into teaching in the first place, and see if you can carry those truths on to the next school year and the next.