Math = Love: Asking Questions About My Blogging

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Asking Questions About My Blogging

My approach to blogging is changing.  My approach to the #MTBoS is changing.  Let's be honest.  My approach to teaching is changing.  Life, in general, has changed a lot these last few months.

Life has been oh-so-busy.  Grad school is oh-so-time-consuming.  Teaching is oh-so-hectic-as-always.  Being featured on NPR was oh-so-exciting.  Dating a guy who lives on the other side of the world is oh-so-awesome-and-exciting-and-just-a-tiny-bit-insane.  Blogging has kind of taken a backseat to the rest of life lately.  It is forcing me to reflect on just why blogging is important.  

Do I want to blog? Yes.  

Do I have things I want to blog about?  Absolutely.  

Do I have time to blog?  Debatable.  

Do I need to blog? No.  

Should I blog? Most certainly.  

Some days, I feel like blogging is in my blood.  Except that's not true.  My parents aren't bloggers.  I don't come from a family of writers.  However, when my friends in high school were exploring Xanga, MySpace, and Facebook, I was a wanna-be knitting blogger.  The knitting phase didn't last, but my love of blogging did.  

As I told an NPR reporter recently, I discovered the #MTBoS circa 2006.  I was a high school trig student who was looking for help with her math homework.  A google search led me to the Math Teacher Mambo blog.  Shireen's approach to teaching the topic made complete sense to me.  I wondered why my trig teacher hadn't explained the concept that way in the first place.  I started to wonder just how many other math teaching strategies there were out there that I wasn't aware of.  So, high school junior me started reading math teacher blogs.  Of course, I'd already decided at this point that I wanted to be a teacher.  But, I'm pretty sure that reading math teacher blogs sealed the deal on my being a MATH teacher.  

When I ran out of posts to read on Math Teacher Mambo, I started following links in the comments to other math teacher bloggers.  I started a google doc to copy and paste the URLs of activities I wanted to do with my own students one day.  To me, this was a perfectly normal thing to do as a high school student.  Though, I'm learning that this just makes people think I'm weird.  I think I prefer the term strangely passionate.  When I'm committed to something, I go all-in.  

(Here's a link to the most recent NPR blog post I was mentioned in.  I was able to talk up the MTBoS a bit in this one.  :D)  

Upon starting to spend time in classrooms while a math education student, I decided it was time to start my own blog.  So, I did.  I didn't really have much to write about at that point.  But, I felt this compulsion to give back to the community that I already owed so much to.  I owed these people so much, and they didn't even have a clue who I was.  That was something I needed to fix.  As I started student teaching, I started writing to reflect on what I was seeing and experiencing in the classroom.  

My blogging became more earnest as I started my first year of teaching in a tiny town where I was suddenly the most experienced member of the math department.  I didn't really know what I was doing.  Oh, I would pretend I knew what I was doing in my classroom.  My blog, though, was my opportunity to admit that I didn't have this whole teaching thing figured out.  I still don't have this teaching thing figured out, and I'm almost done with my third year.  I'm well aware that I'm never going to figure out this whole teaching thing.  When I think I've got it figured out, that's when I need to quit and find a different job.  

This blog has long been my chance to be honest.  Writing is the best way I've found to process what is going on in my head and in my classroom.  Writing requires thought.  Reflection.  Patience.  Time.  People thank me for being so open about my successes and my many failures in the classroom.  I didn't set out to showcase my brilliant ideas in a blog.  My blog should be a reflection of what someone would see if they spent a chunk of time in my classroom.  A few awesome lessons.  Many more just mediocre lessons.  A healthy dose of fun and games.  A little slice of my personal life outside the classroom.  Lots and lots of foldables.  Tons of laughter.  And, a few tears sprinkled in, too.    

Let's get back to the questions I answered earlier.  I want to blog.  I honestly enjoy it.  And, there's a ton of stuff I haven't blogged about.  So many notebook pages that it's kinda crazy.  Then, there's all the tiny snippets of ideas that could be fleshed into something so much better.  Time to blog is where I struggle.  Grad school takes time.  Maintaining a long-distance relationship takes time.  Blogging takes time.  There are only so many hours in the day.  It would be crazy to think I could return to my once a day blogging of last summer.  But, I can do a better job of blogging more regularly.  

Do I need to blog?  This is the answer that has changed the most for me.  Two or three years ago, this would have been a most definite yes.  Blogging was how I connected to other teachers.  It's how I kept from feeling completely isolated.  I would come home from school during that first year and turn to twitter for advice on a regular basis.  And, twitter would come through for me.

I'm more confident in my teaching now.  Do I still have stuff to learn?  Yes!  But, I can handle the day-to-day requirements of being a teacher on my own.  Before, I would blog about lessons because I had no one to tell about them otherwise.  Dating a math teacher who is just as obsessed with teaching math as me means I have another outlet for talking about how my day went or how awesome my newest foldable is.

So, MTBoS, sorry to say this, but I just don't need you the way I used to.  But, don't get me wrong.  I still love you.  I adore you.  You've made me into the teacher I am today.   And, you're going to keep making me into a better teacher.  You see, I'm not about to stop blogging.  I may not need to blog.  But, I should blog.

Blogging makes me a better teacher.  Blogging forces me to reflect.  Blogging opens me to new ideas and suggestions from others.  There's something powerful about trying to put into words what happened in my classroom.  I don't naturally reflect on my teaching as deeply or thoroughly as I should.  The simple act of blogging makes that happen for me, though.

So, I'm going to keep blogging.  And, I'm hopefully going to be blogging more.  I think you'll notice a change in my posts, however.  Expect less long, in depth posts.  Expect more short posts that give you a snippet of something that happened in my classroom and my reflections on it.  I've got so many ideas that I want to share, but I have this fear that they're not substantial enough for a blog post.  I've decided I'm going to blog about them anyway.  It's my blog.  I want to blog about them.  And, I hope someone will find them to be useful.      


  1. Yay! Please share your snippets! While the in-depth stuff can be great, I love getting a peek into your classroom.

    Oh, and as Math Teach Mambo's blog inspired you, you and hers together inspired me. Just so you know...:)

  2. I want to still hear from you. Short or long posts, I don't care. This is my 6th year teaching, but it is just this year after finding your blog that I am finding hope to becoming a better teacher. I plan to read all your blogs post beginning from Day 1 this summer. The blogging world needs you.

  3. I started blogging this year as a way to reflect, and it's been wonderful, but it's starting to take its toll. I, too, like the idea of short snippets, but it seems like when I try to write a short snippet, it always turns into a long snippet. Either way, I have really enjoyed reading your blog (which was one of the reasons I started blogging again in the first place) and hope you keep it up!

    1. Thanks Lindee! You should totally send me a link to your blog so I can follow along!