I've written before on the work, the gap, and the mission of this blog, but the summary is this:
This blog exists to promote the long-term flourishing of students, particularly by means of promoting the long-term flourishing of teachers.
So, how did we do, in terms of the mission?
A brief history of the blog up to 2018
In May 2012, I started writing on this blog. What I hoped is that it would help. It's been the most impactful of any professional decision I've made. It has taught me nearly as much as the classroom has, making me a smarter, saner educator year by year. I'm thankful for the opportunity, and would encourage any colleague to write regularly and publicly about teaching.
I think of this blog as a “home base” of sorts for the various professional projects I've undertaken since 2012.
The blog itself, of course, is the first and longest lasting of those projects. It is a project that has meant:
- Publishing 500,000+ words for fellow educators, all on this blog in its archives, for free. I hope they help because that's what they're for.
- Reaching over 1.2 million people with my work. These folks are from every country in the world (except North Korea), and they teach every subject area and grade level. If just a percent of these people have been meaningfully helped, then the blog is indeed a smashing success.
The other projects up to 2018 have included:
- Publishing 2 books (the first, a collector's item, in 2014; and the second, a self-published pdf, in 2015.)
- Leading 100+ professional development experiences, ranging from keynotes to workshops to conference sessions, in 25 of the United States to a cumulative audience of nearly 10,000 people.
If I had to summarize everything up to 2018, it would be this:
- Positive: Lots of writing and speaking yields clearer thinking, better questions, and the occasional breakthrough. Were it not for the bulk of that work up above, 2018's breakthrough projects could never have existed. There aren't shortcuts through uncharted territory. To chart it, you've just got to start walking.
- Negative: I spent a lot of time away from home. I love all of the people I've met on my travels, but in 2016 and 2017 I did more of it than I want to at this point in my family's life. Also, every day I spend traveling is a day that I'm not developing writing or online professional development that can serve people all over the world. In short, these speaking and PD-leading experiences were critical to my growth, but I needed to scale them down in 2018 for the sake of creating work that had a better shot of helping more teachers in a more sustainable way.
A look at 2018 specifically
As a result, in 2018 my eyes were on projects likely to yield both long-term impact for more teachers and the long-term sustainability of this blog.
I did three major things toward this:
- Published These 6 Things, my first bestseller, with Corwin Literacy, a strong house with a long-term vision. I wrote most of this book in 2017 (and did its research for three years before that), but in 2018 the book went to press. It is the most intricate thing I have ever made, and its quality is thanks in large part to its publisher. Corwin Literacy's combination of top-notch editorial, design and marketing teams, plus the company's eye toward the future and relatively small catalog of books, are a big reason the book became a bestseller within a month of its release. If I did my work correctly, the book's impact will only keep spreading as the years go by. Epic thanks to the book's 300-person launch team!
- Released The Student Motivation Course, an all-online, schedule-friendly PD on a high-leverage, broadly applicable topic. This project, which launched in March, became my biggest experiment in improving teacher professional development to date. At this point, over 400 teachers have completed the course, with an additional 200 enrolled in our most recent cohort. What we're learning is that the SMC works. It helps teachers break through intellectual barriers, access the research, and make changes in their classrooms tomorrow. Insane thanks to the lovely people who trusted me enough to enroll in this course, especially when the course was brand new!
- Hired three super-smart, part-time teammates to make the work better and more service-oriented, and to make me truer to my commitment to family. During the school year, I have 15 hours per week for blog-related work — and that includes any research and writing and emailing and accounting and invoicing and… well, you get the idea. It's not a lot of time. So when the work exceeds that amount of time, I can either live in survival mode or neglect customers or neglect researching and writing or neglect my family or neglect my health. (Often, I pick a few of those and mix them all together.) So that's not good! This year, the Student Motivation Course allowed me to fix the Dave-as-bottleneck problem that I've had for a few years. Lynsay has been helping with project management and customer service; Amy has been helping with logistics and customer service; and Erica has helped from time to time with design and special projects. And all three of them have helped me clean up my rough draft thinking. Muchisimo thanks to these three friends.
And here's the beautiful summary of this year's work: we reached more teachers than ever and were more impactful than ever, and I did it without spending 30 nights away from home. 🙂
Room for growth in 2019
If I'm wise, 2019 will present far more opportunities than I will take advantage of. After all: Yes is the most dangerous word to the teacher that wants to live a humble, impactful, unhurried life. That's the life I want — but it takes being humble enough to respect limits, wise enough to choose the work most likely to help, and self-controlled enough to resist the constant bent of this world (and my heart!) toward constant motion.
Toward that kind of life, my guess is that 2019 will include:
- Improving my understanding of who the blog currently serves;
- Comparing that understanding to the services we currently offer;
- Making a plan for remedying any gaps so that the blog might serve better;
- Clarifying the long-term vision of the blog, as well as its mission and values (so that I'm a clearer writer, decision-maker, and leader);
- Improving the usability of the blog, especially for new teachers and readers;
- Working with a select group of schools and organizations around the world for in-person PD and speaking engagements. (To inquire, start here.)
Thank you for letting your journey intersect with mine. Much love to you.
Teaching right beside you,