First, let’s address the dumb word. Blog.

Sounds like a Star Wars villain.

"You'll never catch me, Skywalker!"

“You’ll never catch me, Skywalker!”

It’s short for Web-Log, but nonetheless, the term is a poor approximation for the amount of good stuff happening online.

Kate Nowak–at least 20% of the brains behind Mathalicious–asked for some input on Teacher Blogging, so here it is:

1. What hooked you on reading the blogs? Was it a particular post or person? Was it an initiative by the nice MTBoS folks? A colleague in your building got you into it? Desperation?

Desperation. During my first year teaching, I found myself regularly journaling, “There has got to be an easier/better/more fun/cheaper way of teaching this concept”.

After exhausting my master teacher (and getting plenty of good ideas from her), I took to the internet and found teacher blogs: people who were not only sharing their successes, but also their failures and shortcomings. I would find a cool lesson and read about a teacher in Mississippi whose 6th period was just as unruly as my 3rd period.

As a first-year teacher, that feeling was like being back in the first grade and finding out that Jeremy struggled with chin-ups, too.

2. What keeps you coming back? What’s the biggest thing you get out of reading and/or commenting?

The collection of math teachers online is like having a staff lounge with only trustworthy, non-grizzled, innovative veterans, all of whom will happily share all their secrets for free.

If such a thing existed in the automotive business, all cars would run on tap water and get 400 miles per gallon.

In commenting, I get to share my own [limited] experience with teachers, many of whom are new to the gig. It feels like giving back.

And it’s real humbling to see big names in Education commenting also, or people giving comments much more astute and helpful than my own. It’s good to be humbled sometimes.

3. If you write, why do you write? What’s the biggest thing you get out of it?

I love running my new lessons through a checkoff of sorts. Through blogging (and Twitter) I can ask teaching questions to a specific audience and get only the advice I want. Example below; read a few of these:

I asked people across the state about a project my class was doing and got all those responses within 24 hours. Not bad.

4. If you chose to enter a room where I was going to talk about blogging for an hour (or however long you could stand it), what would you hope to be hearing from me? MTBoS cheerleading and/or tourism? How-to’s? Stories?

A few things:

Tier your instruction (eh? Get it?) so that you can address both the non-bloggers and the established bloggers. Do that by describing what blogging is in its ideal form. That will inspire a beginning in those that don’t blog yet, and an advancement in those who already do.

Emphasize how easy it is to join. When I spoke on Twitter last month, I called it “a wide rushing river that is full of chatter and intimidating to look at, but dipping your toes into it is easy.”

On your blog, you mentioned “written, public reflection”. Touch on how the worst employees in any profession are those accountable to no one. Written, public reflection provides a respectful vulnerability. There is something powerful in two parties saying, “I’m imperfect and I need help,” and “So are we, here are some ideas.”

Good luck.

~Matt “Romanticized and Touchy-feely” Vaudrey