by Sarah Hochstetler
This week we’re celebrating our first blogiversary by updating the blog’s design, reflecting on what our readers, writers, editors, and general supporters have accomplished in the last twelve months and sharing a bit about what we hope to accomplish in the next twelve.
And what a year it’s been! Since our first post on September 1, 2013, the blog has
- Published 24 posts,
- Featured 17 authors,
- Welcomed over 17,500 unique visitors,
- Signed-up 140 followers,
- Initiated 3 conference proposals, and
- Generated 1 peer-reviewed publication.
Our readers come from dozens of countries and have generously linked to our posts hundreds of times via Facebook, Twitter, and other social media. The blog has also enjoyed promotion by professional groups (such as NCTE’s Inbox) and recognition for its advocacy (such as this message from CEE Chair, Louann Reid). We think these quick statistics reveal something important: this blog is building a reputation for robust conversation and is providing useful resources for advocates and teachers of authentic writing.
We look ahead to the next year with several goals. First, we hope to grow our readership and recruit new authors. Second, we plan to continue our emphasis on advocacy by featuring regular posts on issues of writing and teaching writing in the ever-changing landscapes of education. Also included among our goals for next year are further efforts to challenge what it means to publish as an educational professional. More specifically, as an extension of our advocacy work, we want to push back against traditional definitions of scholarship and promote writing that moves beyond classroom walls.
Several of our authors have already pushed us toward this specific goal. In “Carpe Diem in the Public Sphere, Part I,” the first post on our blog, Peter Smagorinky noted, “For the highly topical public debate, [a quick] turnaround is key to providing relevant content to readers, and it’s one reason that public forums like this blog are important.” He further advocated for nontraditional scholarly publications in a more recent post, where he stated plainly: “I write this essay to encourage my fellow academics to consider the implications of working only within the echo chamber of our journals, conferences, and classes.” Other authors have promoted the call for public conversations, like Anne Elrod Whitney, who described writing with teachers for a local newspaper, and Jane Jones, who advocated for young writers to engage in letters to the editor.
The majority of the posts on this blog, like those referenced above, come from what we call “small moments.” In other examples, Melinda McBee Orzulak contributed this story, prompted by letter-writing between family members; Robert Montgomery shared this post, initiated by memories of teaching narrative writing to ninth graders; and in our most popular essay to date, Jim Fredricksen wrote about the role of uncertainty in writing, which started in a phone call with his niece. Instead of dismissing what might seem like minor events related to writing or thinking about teaching, these authors harnessed them to make a point about the importance of authentic writing and related issues. We encourage you, too, to hold onto those small moments and write them out for a larger audience.
We want to thank you for your role in sustaining our project and again invite you to join in the larger conversations in education and writing through this venue. We’re currently accepting proposals for fall and winter posts. Please send your ideas via the blog’s author submission form. Additionally, if you plan to attend this year’s NCTE convention, we hope you’ll stop by our session and join in the conversation about advocacy and writing while drafting a potential post for the blog.