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C'est la Z

CS Teachers - we need you to blog

At this past year's CSTA conference, a few of us huddled in a corner voiced a very common lament - "it would be great if more CS teachers blogged." It really would be. We're still a relatively small community and while there's some good conversation going on on mailing lists and on Facebook, those aren't easily discoverable or accessible and in the case of Facebook, there's a question of ownership and permanence.

I've been blogging on and off since 2010. Around 300 posts. Not super prolific but I've been doing it long enough to maybe be able to share a bit of perspective.

I'm not sure exactly why I started. In part I was inspired by my wife who at the time was blogging about her knitting. I was also inspired to share my thoughts after meeting some fellow CS teachers from across the country at a CSTA event in Chicago. It was stop and go for a while and then I took a break. I was re-inspired months later after meeting a couple of CS teachers at another CSTA event - Ben Chun and Helene Martin. Both terrific high school CS teachers at the time who are unfortunately no longer in the classroom (unfortunate for the kids, I wish Ben and Helene all happiness and success in all their endeavors). We all agreed to try to write more and that got me started again. I've been posting around 50 times a year since.

Looking back to when I used blogger, I had 30 - 50 hits on some early posts and that was mostly just me hitting the site. It didn't matter. Writing has let me work through my thoughts. It also creates a record of my thoughts and on how my thinking evolves over time.

Over time, people have told me that they've found some of the things I've written useful or helpful and I'd argue that when people disagree with something I write, even if they don't comment and I've all I've evoked is a reaction of "Z's full of crap," it's gotten them to re-evaluate their own thoughts on whatever the subject and if it's confirmation of their original beliefs, that's OK.

The important thing is that by blogging I'm getting my thoughts down "on paper" and sharing them for the world to take or leave as they please and the more of us who do this, the more we expand the sum knowledge of CS teaches.

As a dispersed community of CS teachers across the country, we need more people blogging on public platforms not in silos like Facebook.

I've heard reasons why teachers don't blog:

I'm new and have nothing to write about

Sure you do – write a paragraph about your plans for the days lesson or how it went. Vent your frustrations (but be careful not to get yourself in trouble). Rave about some students work.

I don't have time

Yes, this is a tough one. If you have to do PD time, maybe your supervisor will let you use it for blogging. To be honest, when I'm writing regularly it doesn't take that long. When I haven't written in a while it takes longer. In any event. It's important and posts don't have to be long

I'm not a great writer

This blog is proof that you don't have to be. I'm stilted and ramble and certainly no Shakespeare. I am the weakest writer in my household and it's not even close. Even so, we all have something to share.

I don't know how

I was thinking about proposing a session at next years CSTA conference where I'd work the group through creating a github pages based blog. In the meantime, there are a lot of easy ways to start out.

and for those who want total control

So, there's my plea. If you're a CS teacher and you're reading this please consider blogging. I assure you, we will all appreciate it and benefit from it.

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