Teaching Opinion

Farewell to the ‘Charting My Own Course’ Teacher Blog

By Marilyn Rhames — July 28, 2015 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Dear Esteemed Readers,

When Education Week Teacher first offered me this blogging job in July 2011, I almost declined.

Sure, I was a former news reporter who earned a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University, but I was now a teacher and hadn’t written anything for public consumption in seven years. I was on zero social media and doubted anyone would follow me. I also worried I’d run out of things to say after the first few posts. On top of all that, I had four different science classes to teach, a national nonprofit to launch, and a husband and two young children at home. I thought, Who has time to blog?

Four years and 150 posts later, I am left to marvel at where “Charting My Own Course” has taken me. I said yes to Ed Week, knowing that Teach Plus had equipped me with two years of ed policy training. Plus, my husband had looked me in the eye and quoted the scripture: “We walk by faith and not by sight.”

The good:

Here’s a short list of the many wonderful things that happened while I’ve been blogging:

After a battle with infertility, I gave birth to a man child!

I gave a TEDx Talk on teacher voice, and was named the Bammy Awards’ Commentator/Blogger of the Year for 2013.

The New York Times invited me to write education commentary four times.

Moody Radio in Chicago made me its regular on-air education expert on its morning show.

I edited a picture book about a slave-turned-Civil War hero that will be released this fall.

I ran a boys-only book club for underachieving middle-school boys of color.

My nonprofit Teachers Who Pray got its 50th school chapter.

I was featured in a video and panel discussion for Rick Hess’ new book The Cage-Busting Teacher.

The bad:

Despite my successes, I wasn’t immune to life’s hardships over the past four years:

I miscarried a baby for the fourth time.

I was handcuffed and arrested for a minor traffic violation.

I transferred my daughter out of my own school as a remedy to poor classroom management and instruction.

My father died in 2013, and then my mother-in-law and uncle passed away in the same week this past May.

A student smashed a chocolate chip cookie into my forehead and thought it was funny.

One of my students was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver.

A reader called me the n-word in the comment section of my blog post about racial injustice (the slur was immediately removed).

Signing off

The tale of how texting got me pregnant made many of you laugh; the story about losing my father made some of you cry; and just as it is has haunted me for the 12 years I’ve been in education, the phrase “It happened to them” may now be haunting you.

It’s been a tremendous honor to share these teachable moments with you. But the greater privilege has been every time you—smart, dedicated, and inspiring educators—took the time to share your wisdom, insight, and experience with me. If blogging were a college major, you were my professors. Now I’m crossing the stage, shaking your hand, and receiving my degree—summa cum laude.

With that, I must announce that I’m ending the “Charting My Own Course” blog as of July 31, 2015. It will remain online for you to read and re-read, but this is my last post on it.

I hold the editors and writers at Education Week in very high regard; they are some of the best journalist in the business, dissecting the complex and thorny issues of public education week after week. I am particularly grateful to managing editor Anthony Rebora and reporter Liana Heitin for “discovering” my long lost writing talent in the summer of 2011. I will remain in the Ed Week family by writing commentary for Teacher each month.

I have accepted a new blogging position at Education Post, a nonprofit communications organization focused on improving public education. It is based in my hometown of Chicago, though it has a national reach. I will write a weekly, self-titled blog—look for my name under one of the site’s tabs on the main page sometime in August.

I would be remiss if I did not give special thanks to my mother, who raised eight biological children and then adopted three more from the foster care system. I strive to possess her gentle, gracious spirit while also having my late father’s fierce passion for racial justice and advocacy for the poor. Though I claimed to be ‘charting my own course’ these past four years, my parents taught me well: God has always controlled my sails.

Thank you for your gift of readership!

Yours most truly,

Marilyn Anderson Rhames

P.S. If you’ve enjoyed reading my blog, please let me know by leaving a comment below. It would mean a great deal to me. Hugs.

The opinions expressed in Charting My Own Course 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.