After 10 years of blogging, this blog birthday has me grateful for the several million teachers who have dropped by and given my work a read. On this day in 2005, I started blogging. It took me a week to write my first post. On this day ten years a go, I found the strength to hit publish. (I’ll admit that the post was ready a few days earlier, I was just afraid.) That second changed my life.
I am grateful to Mike Hetherington (can’t find his link) and Darren Kuropatwa, my first two commenters. Steven Downes and David Warlick were early encouragers, too. Like a child learning to walk, you never forget those first fumbling steps or the first people who held your hand and encouraged you to keep going.
I am a living example of how blogging changes you. The more you give, the more others give you.
Your Blogs Make a Difference to Me
Many education websites are as useful to me as an ashtray on a motorcycle; I’ll tell you what is useful — your blogs. When teachers write about what they are doing RIGHT NOW, it may not be polished and may not be perfect, but your blogs are HELPFUL.
I will admit something — I learn primarily by reading blogs and books and tweets. I don’t really have the time to join in online classes or big events or even challenges. These are great things and they help lots of people, but I can’t handle the stress and guilt trip of one more thing I don’t have time to do. But I do have and make time to read blogs at least four to five times a week. Blogs are my lifeline. If I read it and it is helpful to me, I tweet it.
So, I think, to me, blogs are more relevant than ever. And while I can’t read everything, I can read something, and that makes all the difference.
Who You Are
Forgive while I generalize about the people I’ve met who have told me they read this blog. Certainly, some may be flatterers, but those who I can say genuinely have read my work (and aren’t just sucking up) tend to be the epic types. They are people who fight massive battles but people who love kids and other people. You pour out your heart for love of children and love of our profession.
Teachers are amazing people living in tough times doing the right things even when the wrong things are being done to them. The ones I meet have the best smiles, the greatest laughs, the best stories, and the most enduring legacies of anyone I know. Teachers are incredible and so are the kids they teach.
So many of you inhale life and exhale the perfume of love and encouragement. You like to go places. You’re people who live with a purpose. You feel deeply and hurt deeply, but those strong emotions also enable you to fight for children and love deeply. You stand at your door and greet kids by name and speak out for the underdog.
In short, the people who read this blog are some of the best people I know. Many close personal friends started off as commenters here, or I commented on your blog. I will admit that my friends who blog are those I know the most deeply because we’re always reading each other’s stuff.
In 2010, on the post, Sojourner Truth, I wrote
Looking back to December 9, 2005 (my first blog post on the power of Wiki Wiki Teaching) and the over 1500 blog posts, really I had gotten almost afraid. Afraid I had nothing “new” to offer…
Here, on this blog – it is partially about technology but in a huge way it is about good teaching, and reaching every child – it is about the journey. I’m not an academician, a high level administrator, or consultant traveling the world. Although I do get out to speak… I feel like a journeyman.
Here is a woman who found the profession she loved (teaching) relatively late in life. She has three kids (two with LD’s), friends around the world, a total technology dissector, and she’s part of something bigger than herself – this fundamental change that is happening in education where these sojourners in teaching can work together directly. We encourage each other, laugh together, and cry when we leave messages on the page of one of our friends who has passed on.
And today I still cry. I cry for the amazing encourager Bob Sprankle (Wes Fryer wrote an epic tribute him) who died just this week. I am sad for the entire Maine/ ACTEM family who hired me for my first spotlight at a technology conference. Bob loved kids. He gave everything he had. He invested not only in his students but in his PLN. In short, Bob is someone I aspire to be, and his life and work ended far too soon. Bob was also someone who believed in me and encouraged me in the early days when quitting blogging was just a breath away. Oh, what a great man.
I could get all self-congratulatory and give you stats and numbers about this blog. What does that do? A blog isn’t a number; it is a journey.
A blog is a journey.
I can’t look at old posts without remembering this moment or that. I remember when my students first collaborated live in a document in 2005 on Writely. And how Writely was bought by Google docs and now we use that. Wikis were around when this blog started, and I still use them today. But other tools have come and gone, Second Life, Google Lively, Google Reader, Zite and lots of things I tried and tested.
I was blogging here when I joined Facebook and Twitter. In 2006, I joined my first podcast, Women of Web 2.0 – it was a fantastic experience with some great ladies, and then I stopped so I could collaborate globally on Flat Classroom. When I left Flat Classroom, I started podcasting again on Every Classroom Matters, and that has been fun.
Besides the amazing, noble educators that we love and lose, this learning journey is so fun and joyful.
Love is all over this blog.
As silly as it sounds, I love this blog because I love the kids I write about and the teachers I hope it helps. I am also grateful that it is helping me send my kids to college.
When I think about GAETC 2005 and what David Warlick’s inspiration meant to me and all the places I’ve been, I can barely breathe.
And that is what blogs let us do. Blogs take us places. We can share our work. We can encourage others. But more than that, we can learn from others. For blogging is not me typing stuff and you reading it. Great blog posts are conversations where one person starts it, and others add their voices. And now those voices can spread all over the place.
Sure, you’ll get haters. Sometimes people like you and sometimes they hate you or even wish you were dead. (The death threats and profanity can be upsetting but I’ve found hurting people hurt people. The blog post What to Do When Someone Hates You channels those feelings and is rapidly becoming the top post I’ve ever written.)
My Dad taught me that if you’d doing work worth doing that you’ll attract critics. He says to mark critics as a signpost on the road to success. So, I don’t let them bother me (for long — ha ha). I never ignore them, because sometimes there are great truths in their words. In many words there is much foolishness. Who is right all the time? Not me. People who think they are always right need to get over themselves. And in the end, even though this is my blog and this is my life, this is a far bigger would than one person.
The hardest thing of late is the pressure I put on myself to be polished and just so. It has been quite a while since I just wrote to you, my precious friends who read this blog and I do count many of you as friends. So, I decided to go old school how I’ve written for many of the years on this blog and just write to you.
Grin. I’ve had a few stalkers at conferences, and those aren’t fun – but most of you are amazing, incredible people. (smile)
My first seven readers
When I get overwhelmed, I remember my first month of blogging like yesterday.
In 2005, 2e used to use this RSS reader called Bloglines to read. And after I started blogging, within just a few days I had seven readers on Bloglines and it stayed that way for several months. I remember thinking —
“I have seven readers. I have seven readers!”
I would wonder who they were. I’d think about those people going through their day. I would wonder about their hard times. When I hit publish on my blog, I’d think of the person on other side who might be reading the post. Then my blog went from 7 to 13 then 20 something and before you know it – more than 100 people were reading the blog.
But I still go back to those first seven. Never underestimate the impact that you have by reading and sharing someone’s blog. I can’t count the times I almost quit, but a kind teacher wrote me an email or a comment about how a post kept them going. Teachers kept me going. I’m still here not because I’ve written great stuff, but because enough kind educators saw a glimmer of hope in what I shared and decided to give me some hope in return.
In true Malcolm Gladwell, 10,000-hour rule style, I screwed up a lot. But enough of you stayed with me. You trained me by commenting on what you liked, and giving me nuances where I was missing something.
Blogging is an excellent way to spend your life.
And as I look back, blogging has been an incredible way to spend my life so far. I don’t know how many more anniversaries I’ll have on this blog because none of us is guaranteed another day. I don’t know what ups and downs and books and wins and losses that will make it into the words on this page in the future.
But every time I write, I write knowing that not only my children but perhaps, if I’m lucky, my grandchildren will read what I write here. So, I don’t want to waste words because wasted, stupid words are a wasted time. When you waste time, you waste your life.
And the moments and minutes and seconds are precious. You can make more money, but you can’t make more time. Time is precious. Reflecting and sharing makes the time even more valuable.
Happy birthday to Cool Cat Teacher
Happy birthday to me
Happy birthday, I have great readers
In the end it is you who changed me.
😉 You are loved. You are important. Keep being amazing educators. It is a joy to connect with many of you daily. Thank you for the joy you’ve brought into my life.