National Writing Project

Eduholic: Blogging Teacher-Consultant Gets National Attention

By: Paul Oh
Date: January 2008

Summary: Emmet Rosenfeld, a teacher-consultant for the Northern Virginia Writing Project, writes a blog for Teacher Magazine that reaches a responsive audience of teachers around the country.

 

Emmet Rosenfeld is an avowed eduholic. He just can’t stop writing about education. Luckily for the rest of us, he has an outlet for his addiction: a Teacher Magazine blog called (what else?) Eduholic.

Rosenfeld, a teacher-consultant for the Northern Virginia Writing Project (NVWP) and a humanities teacher at the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria, Virginia, sees Eduholic as a vehicle to publish his musings about life as a teacher. The blog gives him an opportunity to reflect on his practice and make those reflections available to the world.

Rosenfeld, who attended the NVWP Invitational Summer Institute in 1996 and has facilitated the site’s summer institute, is on the NVWP board in charge of publicity, and teaches a research course for the site.

“It has made me a writer,” he says of his NVWP work. “The personal voice, the fluency, the risk-taking you see in my blog, that’s all from freewriting and the writing I’ve done with my kids. And as far as what’s informed my teaching, it’s writing project writing.”

The Leap into Blogging

Publishing isn’t new to Rosenfeld. Over the years, he’s made a concerted effort to document his teaching. Rosenfeld’s work has appeared in the print version of Teacher Magazine and in the Washington Post Magazine.

The leap into blogging—a brave new world when he began two years ago—has allowed him to write to what is now a responsive audience. Teachers from around the country post comments to his blog, giving feedback and spurring his teaching with new ideas.

The personal voice, the fluency, the risk-taking you see in my blog, that's all from freewriting and the writing I've done with my kids.

Written in a wry, straightforward style, Eduholic, which publishes once a week, is an unedited, personal look at Rosenfeld’s teaching, his pedagogical beliefs, and the impact of teaching on his life.

Rosenfeld seems to be breaking new ground by blogging in this way for an established, esteemed publisher rather than on his own, as is usually the convention among educational bloggers. It’s somewhat akin to Heinemann saying to one of its print authors, “Write down your thoughts about the teaching of writing and, oh yes, include bits from your daily diary. P.S. We won’t edit any of it.”

A Range of Topics

In his first post before the new school year, for instance, called “Lull Before the Storm,” Rosenfeld discusses what he hopes to accomplish and divides those thoughts into four categories.

In the section called “Tech Mojo,” Rosenfeld writes: “It’s time to 2.0, as I wrote last post. At least, time to take another few baby steps towards integrating the best of today’s technology into my teaching repertoire. While I’m confident that writing well won’t become obsolete, I can’t in good conscience continue to teach digital natives without employing tools that are the most effective available.”

In another entry, “Mo’ Better,” he concludes the post by determining to “say sorry more, don’t lose my temper, and generally guide my little ship through the rough seas of life in such a way that I can look in the mirror every morning without disgust.”

The First Blog

Eduholic is Rosenfeld’s second blog for Teacher Magazine. The first, called Certifiable, chronicled his efforts to earn National Board certification. Initially, Rosenfeld queried Teacher Magazine about developing a series of print pieces on his quest for certification. The magazine pointed him to their online editor, who asked if he’d consider maintaining a blog about the topic instead.

“I’m thinking to myself, ‘What’s a blog?’” Rosenfeld says. “But I said out loud, “Sure, I’ll do it!”

“The first post I wrote was belly-button gazing at its worst. I think I used the word ‘blogosphere’ five times. The second post, I began to write about my subject—the National Board certification. I just launched into it.”

Impacts

Anytime you can build bonds with parents, you can be more successful.

Blogging Eduholic has had a direct impact on Rosenfeld’s practice. For one thing, it has helped strengthen connections with his students and their families. Those who read his blog see the “teacher” in a more human light as they get a glimpse into his classroom and his life.

“Anytime you can build bonds with parents, you can be more successful,” Rosenfeld reasons.

The blog has also put him in contact with educators from around the country who respond to his posts with questions and comments, pushing him in his thinking.

A Journalistic Blogger

Sometimes the blog posts are complex: a description of a student-focused type of presentation, called a “Brown Bag Booktalk,” and why it’s an effective alternative to traditional book reports. Sometimes they’re as simple as chronicling the achievements of the week, such as launching a canoe with his students as part of a science project.

Rosenfeld says the ideas for his posts come to him at all hours—during his free sixth period, maybe, or while walking the dog. In the end, though, they all funnel into Eduholic’s once-a-week space—his is not the blog-whenever-you-want style that is typical today.

“I think I’m more of a journalistic blogger than other bloggers,” Rosenfeld says. “I look at each post as an individual assignment. I think some people blog more in the flow of their life.”

Blogging in the Classroom

Now, Rosenfeld is taking the leap and has introduced blogging to his students, putting into practice what he preached in a mid-September post when he wrote about creating “student-centered” solutions to instructional challenges in the classroom.

“Hope I don’t regret it,” he says, considering the hurdles that teaching with technology can generate.

Judging from the many student responses to an initial blog prompt he posted to a school-based site, it seems the only regret Rosenfeld may have is that he’s created a class of blogaholics.

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