As some of you know, I was unable to make it to Chicago for the Omohundro Institute and Society of Early Americanists meeting last week. I heard the “The Maturing Blogosphere of Early America” was an excellent session. I wish I could have been there to participate.
Emily Conroy-Krutz of Michigan State and Teaching United States History has offered some reflections on the session. Here is a taste:
This past weekend I was able to take part in a roundtable on “The Maturing Blogosphere of Early America” at the joint meeting of the Omohundro Institute and Society of Early Americanists. Joe Adelman of The Junto, Rebecca Goetz ofHistorianess and Benjamin Breen of The Appendix were on the panel with me (John Fea of The Way of Improvement Leads Home was unfortunately not able to join us). Today I wanted to post some of my reflections from the discussion and think about what it means for my blogging going forward. What follows is a bit of a recap and a bit of a suggestion for what I hope TUSH will be like in the coming academic year.
How does blogging fit into your academic life on a daily/weekly/monthly basis? That was one of the framing questions that Joe had asked us to think about, and it was one that really got me thinking about the importance of accountability. As professors, we are of course accountable to our students every time we walk into our classrooms, but we also know how easy it can be to go on autopilot. Sometimes we are trying to keep up with a new prep (or several new preps). Sometimes other demands (research, writing deadlines, committee work, tenure decisions, life) come up and it’s easy to rely on the lectures and assignments that have worked in the past. I hate feeling like I’m on autopilot, so without a doubt, the greatest benefit for me personally as a scholar in writing for TUSH has been that the blog is on my calendar and thus puts reflective thinking about my teaching on my regular to-do list. Once a month, I know that I need to have something to say about my teaching that will not embarrass me in front of my colleagues and anyone else who stumbles across this website. It is public accountability in the extreme. This has meant that I am consistently a more thoughtful professor. When I think about what I want to write about in any given month, I generally shift my thinking about my classes from what happened last session and what I have to do for the next session to slightly more long-term and big-picture thinking. How does this assignment fit into what I want my students to learn? Are there major issues that my students or I have been struggling with? How can I approach these issues in a creative way that will make for a good post?