Education Opinion

It’s Not You, It’s Me

By Emmet Rosenfeld — August 01, 2009 6 min read
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I know I said I could stop talking about teaching whenever I wanted to, but I never thought anybody would call me on it. Guess what? Someone did. Namely, my ever faithful editor Anthony, who has been the wind beneath my blog since I started here with “Certifiable?” in February 2006. In short, Teacher and I are breaking up.

Yes, my loyal if ever-dwindling readership, it’s sad but true. After nearly three and a half years and 137 pithy posts (67 Certifiables and 74 Eduholics, in case you’ve lost count-- and yes, I am obsessively poring over my own archives, which is another Sign that it’s time to move on), my wide-ranging conversation on teaching and learning in my classroom and beyond is coming to a close with this, my final post for Teacher.

Before the rumor mill starts churning, let me put this out there: no one’s a dumpee here. This parting of the ways is mutual. We’ve both gone through some funky changes (I went from being a teacher to an administrator; Teacher stopped publishing in hard copy), and, well, we’ve grown apart. Man, it still hurts like hell.

How did it happen, you ask? I sent Anthony a friendly email ( What’s up? How’s it going? Where’s my money?). And then he wrote back. The reply started off just like any other:

Hey Emmet. Sorry for the delay. I’m just getting back from a short vacation. Congrats on the piece in the Post. That was very nicely done.

At this point, I’m feeling good. Anthony and I have been through a lot: him hiring me when I didn’t even know what a blog was, me climbing the National Board mountain for a year, him coming to speak at a class I gave on publishing… good times. Day to day, I do my thing and he does his, but he’s always been there as a reasonable sounding board. That’s why the next part kind of surprised me:

About the contract: To be honest, I’m starting to have some second thoughts about the blog. Not because of the quality of your writing but because—as I look over your posts again—I think your new career direction (including the restrictions your school places on you) has maybe taken you away from the really core teaching-and-learning issues that we try to specialize in. I think the blog has lost a teaching-related narrative or focus (as we most noticeably had, for example, with the Certifiable blog).

You know what hurt the most? He’s right.

I’ve felt for a while that Eduholic has become a donut around the hole of what I really do now, which is totally different than what I did when I was exclusively a classroom teacher. What I mean is, when something really juicy and bloggable happens in my life right now, like (and this is totally hypothetical) a kid pees in a gym locker and I get to investigate it, complete with the nurse doing a CSI impersonation with rubber gloves and a q-tip in a plastic bag… I can’t say a word. The job I do now has its own ethical imperatives, and among them is that I can’t spread sensitive dirt. I understand that completely.

Unfortunately, it eviscerates my blog. I still have my late-night Eduholic moments—plenty of ‘em. But they’re all about things that I can’t talk about here. Anthony, a genuinely nice guy and always the straight shooter, put it this way:

Please don’t take this criticism personally. I think the issues I’m talking about are really a byproduct of the evolution of your career—and of the fact that you’ve been working on the blog for a long time, through a lot of changes. And to be honest again, part of reason why I’ve been thinking about these things is that I have to make some tough budgetary decisions this year.

Aha. It always comes down to that, doesn’t it. This to a guy who famously (in my own mind) said to a Post journalist, when being interviewed for a story about Natty Boards, “It’s all about the money.” And now

I’ve got no bully pulpit from which to shake my fist at reporters who quote me out of context (“Stung,” January 2007) not to mention any of the other educational ills I’ve railed at over the years, like Very Hard Tests (“W.W.A.T.?” March 2006), ranking High Schools ( “We Interrupt This Blog,” July 2006) wonks in cubicles making policy (“Call to Fingers,” June 2007), and of course, 275 (“NUKED,” November, 2007).

That said, I will miss the cash, a cheap dinner out per blog post on average. Heck, I’ll miss being able to go to a legit website and see a little picture of myself on the front cover (although I had noticed, lately, Anthony, that I wasn’t on the homepage as much as I used to be. I should have seen it coming.)

Even more, I’ll miss the gun to my head. You know, the external deadline that makes me sit down every week or so and crank out a post, whether I’m feeling it that day or not. Maybe that will be this blog’s great gift, to me at least: Knowing that I can. If I sit and peck and think and follow thoughts where they lead, I can build it. Board by board, bird by bird, whatever. Thanks for that, Anthony, as much as all the rest. Fuel for all those days ahead of anonymous toil in the man zone (I think I can write a book, I think I can, I think I can…).

So what I was wondering is if, instead of keeping up the blog, you might be interested in doing some periodic freelance articles for us—directly focused on key educator career or instructional issues. We probably wouldn’t be able to pay you as much—even over time—for these pieces as we did for the blog, but it would be a way for us to maintain your ties to Teacher (which I am interested in) and might give a fresher outlet for your pieces.

God, if only all my other break ups could have been this good. Of course I’ll dance with Teacher again—it’s the one that brung me, Anthony, even before I met you. My first paid piece back in the year 2000 involved a life or death conundrum with an alligator and a kid not using an apostrophe correctly, somehow presenting an argument against the teaching of prescriptive grammar despite my own personal fond remembrances of diagramming sentences as a boy (true).

Just let me know what you think. I haven’t made any definite decisions so I am open to your ideas—e.g., if you have other ideas for recharging the blog, etc. I’ll be around all day to day if you want to talk by phone. Just give me a time and I can call you.

Hm. So if, let’s just say, I think up a really cool way to “recharge,” or, less likely, the comment box is absolutely FLOODED with emails begging me not to go, than I guess I could rethink this whole leaving thing.

Problem is, I got nothing.

I thought about writing a book without a net, live and serialized, but my almost secret agent Andrea said that would overexpose the material (like my Natty Board quest isn’t already overexposed?). Only other idea I’ve got is to end this blog with a great question, like Anthony Cody does with his well-conceived and much more interactive blog next door: What do you think? Do you have a good idea for how to energize Eduholic?

If this is, in fact, the end my friends, then so be it. No Bret Favre, I, repeatedly unretiring (come to think of it, I have retired once or twice in my career already. But this time, I really mean it.) Yep, I think it’s best to end this thing once, so that it might someday be said of my all too short a time on the Teacher stage: “Nothing in his blog became him like the leaving it.”

And just in case the last word is the one that stays with you, long after I’ve been relegated to the desolate archipelago found at all blogs> Teacher blogs> archived blogs, let me end this by saying: Thank you, Anthony. Thank you, Teacher. And thank you a million times, dear readers.

More than the chance to rant now and then, the constant opportunity to reflect on my practice, and even the self-indulgent navel-gazing, my greatest pleasure here has been the conversation we’ve shared. I hope I made you laugh or think, or maybe gave you an idea to use in class. I know that you were always there for me when I when I stayed up late, when I crashed and burned, and when I did good. That knowledge was what kept me coming back to this keyboard, week after week after week.

Eduholics everywhere, I’ll miss you. Teach well, my friends.

The opinions expressed in Eduholic are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.