This is a guest blog by Joanne Yatvin, NCTE’s P12 Policy Analyst from Oregon.
Eight months ago I made the decision to start an education blog. I knew it was going to be a lot of work, but I am retired now and have more time than in the past. For some years before I had been contributing pieces of writing to Valerie Strauss’s and Diane Ravitch’s blogs, but I was getting the feeling that those bloggers and I were moving in different directions. They were concentrating on news, most of it negative, such as teachers being fired unjustly, charter schools avoiding or dumping risky students, and states failing to adequately fund public schools. I wanted to help public education move forward by writing about good teaching, good schools, and practices that seemed promising for the future. I even had in mind a positive name for my blog: “The Treasure Hunter.” I thought that posting something three times per week would hold readers’ attention and encourage them to share their positive experiences.
I began by posting explanations of my educational philosophy and pieces about my experiences as a teacher and a school principal. I felt that it was important to make clear where I stood and where I was going with my blog. I also posted some pieces I had written years earlier because I thought they were still relevant and had not received enough attention when they were first published. I was—and still am—proud of one piece I wrote in 1990, “Let More Teachers Re-Invent the Wheel,” and am tempted to post it on my blog once every year until teachers have the power to determine their school curricula and how they will teach their students.
From there I tried to move on to the positive happenings in education that I wanted to concentrate on, but there wasn’t much of that sort of news around. I kept on searching our local newspaper, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and Education Week. Only rarely did I find articles that I wanted to repost or allude to in my blog.
As time has passed, I have been able to find more education news that serves the purpose of my blog, and fortunately, a few readers have contributed pieces about their own positive experiences. Still, there is not yet enough material from those sources to make my blog more relevant and my job easier. What I need most are more readers to tell me about the good things that are happening in their schools or communities. I understand that people are busy, but I sure wish a few more would help me out. Do you have some good news to share? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org
Actually, I do not know how many readers I have or who most of them are. Unless people respond to a piece I’ve posted with a comment, I do not see any names. And those who read my blog on Facebook remain nameless and uncounted. I suspect I have about 50 faithful readers and several more who look at my blog irregularly. Although that number is meager compared to those of more established bloggers, I will continue writing for my readers and myself as long as I have the material and stamina to do so. Contributing to and supporting public education has been my life’s work, and I can’t stop now.
Over her 45 year career Joanne Yatvin was a teacher of almost all grades 1-12, an elementary and middle school principal, and a member of The National Reading Panel. Since retiring she has done independent research in high poverty schools, written three books for teachers, and served as president of NCTE.