A few observations about my efforts of the past weeks to get ahead on the old Internets, increase my Twitter presence, enter into more networking on Facebook and increase the readership of this blog. Hard to say why I entered into this endeavor in the first place; I can always use the excuse that I am isolated as an education agitator here in Maine and I need to establish for myself a community who believes in the things I do, and reach out to those here in Maine who I might cultivate as allies. But in reality, I think I just really want to crack the code of getting those 5-figure weekly hit counts on Minds of Kids.
Lisa Nielson of the Innovative Educator gave me a few key words of advice a few weeks ago. Example: focus on school boards. That helped me narrow in. Add parents to that mix. Those lay people who want to change education are a bit harder to find than teachers and school administrators with the same goals. So I used Twitter, worked it hard, made it scream for mercy. Why Twitter? I can answer that easily. Sometimes Diane Ravitch retweets my posts. Someday Dan Pink will respond to something I direct his way. Who doesn't like to hobnob with the greats? Twitter really is a great equalizer. All things seem possible.
About three weeks ago I had 100 followers on Twitter. Now I have 400. It's been a very painstaking process, going through the follower lists of folks who are in my target audience, either by virtue of being parents, being involved in education, or living in Maine.
I belong to several Facebook groups dedicated to education, and even started one of my own, the Radical School Board Member, which has had a flurry of activity and seems a good starting point among those of us who sit at the table. There are other groups for those interested in real educational innovation. I post and respond and engage; it's possibly the one place where people are as obsessed about these issues as I am.
I like a good Internet argument, a good snowballing controversy and I've had the pleasure of witnessing and even participating in a few of those. Nobody said it shouldn't be fun.
But I still feel like I have to work for every hit I get on Minds of Kids.
I haven't cracked it yet. I haven't locked into the secret that, apparently, everyone else in the world is trying to figure out also. My goal is to accelerate the blog posts (not easy for me; I'm not prolific) and continue expanding my Twitter community.
My purpose is to try and be part of the mess of a situation we call public education in America. I want to help define what kids need most; to dispense with some of the reluctance to allow students' passions and deepest interests and strengths to be central to their education. To help organize all those who believe that high-stakes testing stands directly in the way of a passion-driven education, and has brought public education to its knees. I want to stand firm for changing the system itself, instead of renting education out to whatever highest bidder comes along who wants to profit from it. Change the mother ship. Don't settle for anything else.
There are enemies, and yes, I have no qualms about using that word. (In the words of a new friend who is a long-term education activist, "They are killing us. It's right to get angry.") There are people and groups that need to be discredited and defeated. The problem is that they have a lot more money than we do, and right now, control over the narrative of education change.
I know that I am an absolute newcomer to this world, a lay person in a sea of professionals. But I can help change the narrative. I can try to articulate issues in my own way. I learn as I go; my views evolve, my position alters as I gain new information, new insights, hear of a story that shines new light on the controversy.
As I do this, I work for change in my own district, change that might actually (if we act very fast) benefit my own kids. But what are my kids learning by observing a parent who is passionate about changing what is wrong, working for what's right?
Scratch the surface of what's motivating my own obsession, and there it is. I'm a parent.