Saturday, March 09, 2013

A Confession, An Apology, And A Change

I've posted here almost daily since June, 2009. There are over 1350 pieces in the archives, most of which are unique, although there are a few duplicates because I occasionally dig back into the past for posts from the time when I had no readers, freshen them up with new photos or a bit of updated verbiage, then post them anew. I started blogging because I'd written a handful of early childhood related articles for local magazines, newsletters, and whatnot, thought were pretty good, and wanted them to have a place to "live" beyond the paper on which they'd originally been printed. Over the years, however, this has evolved into a place for my reflective practice, a daily opportunity to think through and process what's really going on with me as a teacher, the kids, the families, and the larger world. That anyone bothers to read what I publish here is both a source of surprise and pride.

During the week I give myself about an hour to write before heading off for school (which is why there are, regrettably, so many typos). Sometimes I wake up already knowing my topic, although more often than not, I turn on the machine and whatever comes out is what winds up on this page. Sometimes I'm inspired by the photos I take of our days at school, sometimes by an article link one of my families or a reader has sent me, but usually it's just whatever is on my mind as I prepare for another day. I think that by now my writing is as good as it will ever be, and I'm proud of the shear volume of material I've produced over the past four years.

That said, I'm pretty sucky about the marketing and communication elements of being a blogger. For instance, I know that I'm not as chatty in the comments, either here or on Facebook, as I ought to be if I were really serious about building the "Teacher Tom brand." My email inbox gets clogged and I know I've allowed many good opportunities to slip by, mostly because I'm just flat-out done with staring at the damn computer. I'm sorry if you're someone who has asked me a question, invited me to speak at your conference or write for your website or contribute to your book, requested I take part in your link-up or forum or workshop or documentary, inquired about advertising or an endorsement, or just reached out to me in friendship and camaraderie only to be met with crickets. It's nothing personal and though it be cold comfort, please know I'm grateful. Please also know, I've always made a mental note to get back to you, but in the scramble of priorities that is the life of teaching in three schools and being a father, husband, and son, I've learned that those mental notes aren't really worth much. 

It's occurred to me that if I'm going to get better at these things, I'm will need to approach it like I do the day-to-day writing, and I do want to get better at these things. I really, really like the daily writing part, and it will be hard for me, but my plan is to cut back to producing new posts 4-5 days a week instead of the current 7, using those stolen hours to focus on the cool stuff that's been falling through the cracks. This likely means that I won't be posting on the weekends, although I reserve the right to change that.

I don't know if anyone cares or not, or if anyone who doesn't read this post will even notice that I'm not posting daily (I'm sure I wouldn't if I were a reader), but it will be a big change for me and hopefully give me some of my best early morning fresh brain time to concentrate on some of these other opportunities. 


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Stacey said...

Teacher Tom I love this blog. I love that you will be continuing it. And i love that you will also be taking care of you by scaling back a little bit. I look forward to your posts whether they are 7 times a week or 4 times a week. I frequently share and/or reference your blog with other early childhood professionals. In fact I just did that yesterday. Take care and have a wonderful weekend!

Anonymous said...

I have recently found your blog and it is a source of inspiration for me. Everyone only has 24 hours in a day and it is how you use those 24 hours that is important. There is no way to do it all. Make your priorities and stick to them. I will gladly read 4-5 days a week and glean what I can from them.

Kate said...

I think that's a REALLY good idea!! A post-a-day is sometimes *too* much and it clogs up the reader feed as well. There is something of worth (to me) to be found in every one of your posts for sure... but I have unsubscribed to you a couple of times over the years when things got a bit too esoteric for my taste. Either that or I've juuuust about decided to unsubscribe and then you'll post something really 'meaty' and inspiring. So for me I think the reduction in post count will benefit the quality and content for sure and give your readers a change to breathe and think more about what you've said before quickly moving on to the next thing the next day.
Keep up the great work TT!!

pink and green mama MaryLea said...


I'm surprise you've lasted this long! I've been burned out for years which is why my posting is so erratic. I can't stand the sitting at the computer part either - drives me batty. You've got tons of great content in your archives.

When I read your blog title today, I panicked, I thought you were going to announce I'm so glad you're not jumping ship completely on us. Go play, make art and do your thing. We'll be here when you come back.


Ellen said...

I thoroughly enjoy your blog and the way you reach for the heart and soul of early childhood. Thank you for constant inspiration and food for thought.

Laura said...

I too panicked thinking you were going to stop. :) Glad you are not. I am constantly amazed at how prolific you are, and how poignant so many of your posts are. I have a hard time finding time to read them all.

Aunt Annie said...

Bravo, Tom. A change is as good as a feast, they say. I've been forced by illness to reduce my postings and the interesting thing is that I realise the quality of what I write has actually improved because of that- and I've gained rather than lost readers.

Just quietly, I would love to see you sharing more of the posts by others that inspire you on your FB page. That networking has been invaluable for me and has strengthened my reflective practice as I get into deeper conversations with the authors of other great blogs- sharing is the way to deepen relationships with other deep thinkers.

Looking forward to your new regime!

Juliet Robertson said...

I think you've done amazingly well posting daily for so long. I simply cannot find the time for such a commitment.

As for the marketing stuff - hmm, I think your blog is all you need. You write killer content (in marketing speak) which matters more than anything else.

Also you may enjoy the longer time to simply reflect :)

Let the Children Play said...

Tom, I too am slack at leaving comments. I read your posts but these days it is very rare for me to drop in and say hello. It isn't that I don't find what you have to say interesting or thought provoking, it is just a time and priorities thing :)

Anonymous said...

Don't we always say it's quality not quantity? So glad you're not giving up which was my first fear.
Enjoy the time it free's up.

Meg said...

I'm new to your blog (though, not new to teaching preschool! March 21 marks my 8th year). I didn't know you were posting daily, but I can't imagine how! I'd much rather quality over quantity! And you'll be able to keep some much needed "you time"

Trisha said...

This feels like the end of an era.

Mullin Avenue Workshop said...

I continue to read you very often as I receive your posts on my e-mail, but often do not leave comments. However, I am almost always inspired and gobsmacked by your insights, and writing.
I often recommend your blog to friends, and there you see how word of mouth, works as a means of publicizing Teacher tom. I suspect that I am not alone in this.

Good for you for your committment on a daily basis, and as well for taking time for other needs.

Anonymous said...

Tom, Admittedly...I haven't been able to keep up with your daily posts. I try...but some days just get too busy. On the days that I do read, I have found some amazing inspiration and real gems which I have shared with my network of teaching comrades. I started a blog about a year ago and have committed to one post per month. With my teaching work....that is even challenging some times! I don't have a huge following, but that's ok. My main purpose in writing is to have a place for reflection.
I recently was very turned off by another teacher blogger that has become a major marketer constantly tooting her own horn. I personally believe that a focus on marketing rather than heartfelt reflection will actually cause you to lose readership. I think your idea of following up on some of the comments or requests to contribute to other publications would be more valuable to you professionally than marketing. Perhaps you should present some workshops through the Bureau of Educational Research which is headquartered in the Seattle Area. (Those are the folks that hosted Bev Bos when I saw her in Bellevue some years ago.)
Just last week my kindergarten art students had a dilemma about how to share using the big box we had painted as a play space. I felt very empowered and as if I was having a "Teacher Tom" moment as I stood back and allowed them to come up with some solutions on their own rather than diving in and solving the problem. Thank you for voicing many of the concerns I have as an educator to a larger audience! Thank you for sharing a peek into the wonderful world of your coop preschool teaching, and thanks for some wonderful ideas that I have now implemented in my classrooms (no holds barred gluing, styrofoam cutters, and celebrating getting to brown when mixing paint!)

Unknown said...

Take it down to 4 or 5 is a good idea. Give yourself some time and do what metter most as a mentor- listen to those who admire and find value in your work.

Teacher Tom said...

Thanks everyone! It's a strange feeling today to be sitting here without fresh material on the front page. I think I'm more than a little addicted to the buzz of publication!

I'll be writing a post for tomorrow about one of the projects I've agreed to take part in with PBS Kids, one of those opportunities that need more focus than I could give it without making a few changes.

Rach said...

Great idea. Do what works and is best for you. Anything that helps you to spread the word further would be a good thing. Your willingness to tell your truth without pussyfooting around is your strength so go spread it TT!

Pete W said...

Teacher Tom, I am consistently impressed with how great of an output you have and how much you share your insights in the minds of our children.

Thank you for blogging and letting us know how little minds work.

Pete :-)

Elspeth said...

I so agree with most of what the others have said here, but especially Stacey. I wish you all the very best as you catch a few moments for other things in your life. Bravo to you and such a huge thank you. Your reflections help me with my own reflections on life with young children and have inspired great discussions and influenced my work with the children in my care - I too share your blog with friends and colleagues. I haven't commented often as I can see how much there is to read let alone reply to, but your work here is greatly appreciated and enjoyed and happily I will still be able to do that. Thank you TT

Chelsea Calvert said...

I enjoy reading your post. I think that it is a great idea to slow down and not just focus on posting. I think it is important for you to blog but just as equally as it is for you to focus on yourself and other opportunities that may arise.

Chelsea Calvert

Chelsea Calvert said...

I think that it is a great idea to slow down and only post four or five times a week. I do enjoy your blogs but I also think that it is equally important that you focus on yourself and not get burned out.

Chelsea Calvert

Rosemary said...

Change in order to balance priorities is always a good thing, 4-5 posts will still be gold! Thankyou for all your continued inspiration