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.