Two years ago, Sam Shah planted a seed in my head. We met at a summer teaching conference at Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire, despite the fact that we teach nearby each other. Through Sam, I was introduced to the delights of the edumathoblogisphere and soon I was on Twitter and reading blogs with relish. (Thank you!) Despite his encouragement, I was reluctant to blog myself. I didn’t feel like I had much to say, and certainly not in an extended format. Writing has always been a ponderous process for me. It takes me forever just to write a short email because I edit and proofread to an admittedly absurd degree. I like talking and conversing a lot more—how provisional and reshapable and easily qualified everything can remain when you’re just talking. Print seems awfully definitive.
But that seed has slowly germinated over the years, like a pot simmering on the back burner, and from time to time I’ve almost started in on the project. To entirely mix metaphors, going to EdCampCT on Thursday was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I helped to create a session on giving students choices and autonomy in the classroom—a topic that has been much on my mind as the new school year approaches. Two things happened. First, I heard myself say some things that didn’t so much surprise me as struck me. That’s another great thing about talking. Sometimes in explaining myself to new people I find myself saying things that I had never really articulated before, even to myself. Over the course of that session, I realized how much I’ve at least begun to make choice a core value and governing principle in my classroom. I hope that by blogging about helping my students to choose mathematics for themselves, I’ll continue to learn about and develop my thoughts on the matter.
The second thing that happened was that Frank Noschese—who has blown me away in the few months I’ve been following him—asked me afterwards about some details of how I’m implementing SBG in my classes. Later on, he tweeted me about whether I had a blog post or something explaining some of this. I told him I would have have one up as soon as I started up a blog.
So here I am. :)