Second Anniversary of Blog! Thank You

Dear Readers,

This post marks my second anniversary as a blogger. I want to thank those readers who regularly read my twice-weekly posts, those who have dipped into them occasionally, those who have subscribed to the post, and finally those who have taken the time to write thoughtful comments. People from around the world have viewed the blog nearly 158,00 times since August 2009. Not exactly viral but, for me, most gratifying.

For the 245 posts I have written since August 2009, I have followed three rules:

1. Write less than 800 words.

2. Write clearly on school reform and classroom practice.

3. Take a position and back it up with evidence.

For anyone who blogs or writes often, they will know that sticking to these rules has been no easy task. Yet after two years, I must say that it has been very satisfying. I remain highly motivated to write about policymakers, administrators, teachers, and students–all who inhabit the policy-to-practice continuum–and all who in different ways, with varied ideas, seek to improve schooling.

To me, writing is a form of teaching and learning. The learning part comes from figuring out what I want to say on a topic, doing the research, drafting a post, and then revising sentences and paragraphs more times than I would ever admit so that the post says what I want it to say. Learning also has come from the surprises I have found in the 1300-plus comments readers have posted. From those comments, I have received ideas I had not considered, sources sending me off to explore other topics, and counter-arguments I had overlooked.

The teaching part comes from putting my ideas out there in a clearly expressed, logical argument, buttressed by evidence, for others who may agree or disagree about an issue I am deeply interested in. As in all teaching, planning enters the picture in how I frame the central question I want readers to consider and how I put the argument and evidence together in a clear, coherent, and crisp blog of 800 words or less.

Because of my background as a high school teacher, administrator, policymaker, and historian of education I often give a question or issue its context, both past and present. I do so since I believe that current school reform and practice are deeply rooted in the past. Learning from prior experiences in coping with policy complexities and how they impinge upon classroom practice, I believe, can inform current decision-makers about the complicated tasks they face. Contemporary reformers, equally well-intentioned as earlier ones, in too many instances have no knowledge about past efforts or ignore what has occurred previously and end up bashing teachers and principals for not executing properly their reform-driven policies.

Last year in expressing thanks to readers I said that I would begin writing posts drawing from a two-year study of a 1:1 laptop high school. I had not written about Las Montanas high school (a pseudonym) since 1998 when I and two graduate students did a study of computer use in that and a nearby high school in the Bay area of northern California. That study became Chapter 3 in Oversold and Underused: Computers in the Classroom (2001). In 2008, I returned to Las Montanas because it had become a fully equipped 1:1 laptop school and I wanted to find out what had changed in teacher and student use over the past decade. *

In the past year, I have written nine posts about Las Montanas that have looked at how the school’s three principals dealt with technological changes for over a decade, how teachers have used laptops in math and science, and how I have done the study. This Las Montanas study of high-tech will become part of a larger book on school reform that I am writing. The book’s working title is: “Inside the Black Box: Reforming Classroom Teaching and Integrating Technological Innovations into Daily Practice.”

So thanks again, dear readers, for reading my post and making comments.

________________

*In 1998, I, Heather Kirkpatrick, and Craig Peck (both graduate students) completed the study of Las Montanas and Flatland high schools. In 2008, Craig, now an assistant professor at the University of North Carolina (Greensboro) drafted a proposal to replicate the research we did earlier (he would be Principal Investigator). The foundation that had originally funded the earlier grant turned us down. We revised the proposal and tried again. Rejected a second time. Because of my curiosity about what changes had occurred in one of the two schools that had become a 1:1 laptop school, I asked Craig if I could do the study. So without funding and some help from Craig who came out for a week in 2010 to help with the 800-plus student surveys–at his own expense–I completed the study in June 2010.

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11 Comments

Filed under Reforming schools, technology use

11 responses to “Second Anniversary of Blog! Thank You

  1. Ava Arsaga

    Happy 2nd anniversary. Your blog post formula works.

  2. Sandy

    I thank you for writing accessible posts that clarify and enlighten my understanding of the motivations and practices of the current school reform movement. School policy has been a field in which I’ve always been keenly interested. When I finally retire from APS in two years, it is my intent to run for school board. I look forward to the publication of your book. If you know of any books that I should study so that I might better prepare myself for a school board position, I’d sincerely appreciate a point in that direction.

    • larrycuban

      Sandy,
      Thanks for your kind words. I appreciated what you said. There are a few books that I do recommend for folks interested in serving as school board members but they are not books or articles about school boards themselves. They are about change and stability in organizations, past and present efforts to plan change and what happens to organizations undergoing change, and, finally, books about the political and social purposes of schooling in a democracy. If you are interested, let’s talk further when you have the time (and energy) to do that kind of reading.

      • Sandy

        Your reply was not what I expected. But I certainly see why you would have me school myself on the subject of change and stability in organizations, and the political and social purposes of schooling. I feel like I need at least two years to be fully prepared to run for school board. I also need to see things from the perspective of the citizen/taxpayers as well as the parents. While I was working on my admin certification, I took a course in school policy, but it’s focus was on the school environment and implementation of policy, not on how school boards create policy. I am keenly interested in your recommendations. I’m ready, eager, and will make the time!

      • larrycuban

        Sandy,
        My first suggestion is a book called “Reframing Organizations” by Lee Bolman and Terence Deal. Look for third edition. While Amazon sells it, a PDF is available to read online. The book is about both organizations and leadership and, if you have not read it yet, I grant you that you will be applying one or more of their four frames as you reflect on your work in Arlington. if you are already familiar with it, I have other suggestions.

    • gary yee

      I’m a former student of Larry’s, former public school administrator, and a current school board member (third term). I surely am different now, than I was when I ran! Larry, thanks for two years of insightful postings.

      You asked about preparation for being a board member…. we just went through a very good retreat, with a former Houston School board member, Don McAdams. His book, “what school boards can do” helped us get through a big logjam of leftover beliefs and antagonisms. But what it can’t do, is predict for you how the board in the district you where you want to run as a whole will operate. That interpersonal dynamic can be powerful and difficult and debilitating, and what most of us aren’t really prepared for, because it operates in public view. But to operate with integrity and purpose, and humility and respect for others, and unlikely success once in a while, is what I live for.

  3. muffet trout

    I am one of your regular readers and, like Sandy, appreciate the clarify with which you discuss your views on the current school reform movement. My suspicion is that it is precisely your attention to history that keeps me reading your posts. Thank you for keeping me informed!

  4. Hi Larry, I am grateful for your contributions to the educational landscape and am always struck by the synergy with eductional issues on this side of the pond. I am hopeful of convincing you of the value of twitter soon :)

  5. Cal

    I missed this post the last time I visited your blog, and just wanted to congratulate you for two years. I really enjoy your perspective.

  6. gary yee

    Larry, thanks for two years of insightful postings. In the middle of all the decisions I help to make as a board member in the Oakland schools, it’s a pleasure to know that I can always scan through your past postings and find something to clip and paste (always out of context, but who really knows but us?) that makes the point I need to make.

    You must know that I miss you alot, but I thank you for giving me the confidence and knowledge and humility to continue to serve in strange and sometimes surprising ways.

    I’d be interested in your take on our pretty radical new strategic plan:
    “community schools-thriving students.”

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