This post marks my 11th 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. Also to the growing number of international readers, I am grateful for your attention to one American’s viewpoint on school reform and classroom practice.
As with all things, there is a history to writing this blog. My daughter Janice who is a writer in marketing communication urged me to begin a blog in 2009. She guided me through the fits-and-starts of working on this platform. After 11 years, I thank her for getting me started on this writing adventure.
For the nearly 1400 posts I have written since 2009, I have followed three rules:
1. Write about 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, I want to say that sticking to these rules has been no easy task. Yet after eleven years, 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. Even amid the past five months of the Covid pandemic.
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, researching it, drafting a post, and then revising it 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 suggestions and comments readers post—“Did I really say that?” “Wow! that is an unexpected view on what I said,” or “I had never considered that point.”
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 about 800 words.
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, and here I put my teacher hat on, since I believe that current school reform and practice are deeply rooted in the past. Learning from earlier generations of reformers’ experiences in coping with the complexities of improving how teachers taught, and how they tried to change schools and districts, I believe, can inform current reformers about the tasks they face. Contemporary reformers, equally well-intentioned as their predecessors, in too many instances ignore what has occurred previously and end up bashing teachers and principals for not executing properly their reform-driven policies.
Expressing my sincere gratitude toward readers for the blogging I have done over the past 11 years is a preface to what I will begin writing during my 12th year of posts. Obviously, I will describe and analyze the effects of the pandemic on a key societal institution and its impact on efforts to improve schools. And how teachers, administrators, and students have been coping with this crisis. Also I will be posting pieces throughout the year drawn from a book I hope to complete next year about how 20th century reform movements have affected me as a student, teacher, administrator, and professor. Yes, I confess I am a proud member of the old-old in America.
Again, thanks to those readers who have taken the time to click onto my blog. I deeply appreciate it.