Odds 'n' Ends
A little over a year ago I did a column, The Morning After Edition, that told a bit about what writing updates for Educators' News was like. I wrote the piece a few days after publishing our Tenth Anniversary Edition, a pleasant romp through some personal anecdotes with a bit of education news thrown in. I'd invested far more time and effort constructing the anniversary edition than a normal, Monday morning posting would usually entail. I rather despairingly wrote in the column:
Writing a independent education news site/blog doesn't bring in all that many readers, but it has allowed me to maintain an online presence and voice while in retirement on current classroom practices, technology (in education), and the continuing controversy about the methods now being pushed by many to "improve" our nation's schools. I've frequently gone through periods of questioning whether it's worth the effort, but have been encouraged to continue from positive comments and tips sent in by faithful readers of the site.
Even so, at the conclusion of the 2010-2011 school year, I responded to the usual seasonal summer drop in readership by changing the publication schedule for Educators' News to just three days a week. Doing so gave me a bit more free time and allowed some decent education news to pile up in between postings. I had a little fun with the announcement, Splat, using an analogy to a Mary Chapin Carpenter cover of Mark Knopfler's The Bug, noting that our web stats had become "the bug."
When school resumed in the fall, I kept the Monday-Wednesday-Friday schedule. To pump up the site a bit, I made our previously occasional look at other education bloggers' writings a regular Wednesday feature, On the Blogs. I also abandoned using RSS feeds for our Monday postings, instead doing a manual search each Sunday of 40-50 newspapers and web sites around the country to pick up sometimes obscure, but relevant material that simply doesn't show up on the news feeds or search engines. I also tried, not terribly successfully, to find an engaging, warm, fuzzy human interest story on education to lead each Monday's posting.
Both changes became massive time eaters! I found that I was spending just as much or more time doing three updates a week to Educators' News than I had previously spent doing daily postings! Our web stats didn't improve at all, nor did I ever receive a reciprocal link from any of the blogs I frequently linked to. The near constant bashing teachers currently endure from wannabe "education reformers," politicians, and others began to really wear me down. And getting further and further away from teaching (in years) also became a major issue on having anything relevant to contribute to today's teachers, something that the "reformers" with their limited to nonexistent teaching experience should note and observe.
I've been lucky over the years to see when something has run its course. I retired from teaching at the end of the 2003-2004 school year, just before the current education "reform" movement got going. I then happened into what initially was a good job playing frontman for a university K-12 outreach program for several years. After being successfully "repurposed" in the job several times, I walked away from what should have been a relatively easy gig teaching online classes for teachers wanting to learn to use Moodle. When my perceived value to the program waned despite the 80 hour weeks I had been putting in, I knew it was time to pack it in. And yes, I really did do "a Johnny Paycheck" (Take This Job and Shove It) leaving that job.
I'm not really a quitter, but have been fortunate in most cases to tell when it's time to move on. As our Eleventh Anniversary Edition of Educators' News approached, I pretty well knew that it was time to do a "What's Next?" If you're unfamiliar with that reference, it's from The West Wing TV series, where President Josiah Bartlett used to end all discussion on a subject by saying, "What's Next?"
Unlike "President Bartlett," I did leave the door open a little bit for a resumption of publication at some point, concluding our anniversary edition with a few lines from a song by Foreigner I'd previously used when taking time off from the site:
But at this point, I really think Educators' News has run its course and should be laid to rest.
I'm still a writer, and our our Senior Gardening web site has proved to be a moderate success. With a bit more time available, I hope to add to our feature stories and recipes there. I also plan to continue our newest column series, Odds 'n' Ends, along with the old standby, Busman's Holiday. I recently added a couple of new columns to the latter series that were prompted by our recent changeover in computers. Our "new" Mac Mini has partitions for both Lion and Snow Leopard along with Windows 7 and Ubuntu Linux running under the Parallels 7 virtual machine. I still need to get the Classic Mac OS up and running on it under Sheepshaver.
I'm already enjoying not having to read all the education updates and advisories that fill my email in box each day. Not staying up late to finish postings for the next day is also a big plus. I'm actually beginning to feel like a real retired person at last.
Living in 100+ year old farmhouse, there's always lots of repairs and improvements that need doing. And although my wife, Annie, still has a full time job, we have some interesting travel plans on tap for her vacation days this year.
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©2012 Steven L. Wood