Every so often I stop and realize that I have been at this for a decade. I have never been actively working on such a particular idea for so long. I think it’s safe to say the crisis of career I faced a long time ago has been settled. This is what I’m supposed to do. In recognition of this “holy crap 10 years” and the fact that I like making charts, I present a series of charts about things I’ve been doing for the past decade.
In 2011 I started writing about my teaching adventures. At the same time I started using a twitter account to promote those writings and follow people in education. The early goal was to write something I would enjoy and take in what other people were sharing. Fun fact, in early 2013 that first twitter account got banned because the service I used to push blog posts to twitter got flagged. Simultaneously, one of my posts had garnered enough attention to get invited to Global Math Department. I had filed an appeal with twitter but there was no indication they were going to do anything about it. I needed a twitter handle to stick into the GMD slides, and lo, the one I use today was born. Eventually my account was reinstated but by then it was damage done. RIP original twitter account.
Though I have been writing continuously since 2011, I did a platform migration from Squarespace v5 to Squarespace v6 in late 2012 or so. You wouldn’t have noticed, because barely any one read this back then (people at TMC 13 did, which made it hard not to scream OMG YOU READ WHAT I WRITE the whole time). I did another major migration (that you wouldn’t have noticed aside from a switch from red to blue) to make the Varsity Math store possible. Either way, my currently available view counts only go back to January 2014.
For today’s chart, I thought it’d be interesting to compare tweet impressions to pageviews. Twitter analytics were only available starting in Sept 2014, and their scale is reduced by a factor of 10. Otherwise the web page view data is hard to see on the same chart. No y-axis values because this is just about trends. I don’t know that a web page view is the same thing as a twitter impression, but if you compare the raw numbers, 4 years of web views is 8.5% of my twitter impressions in the same time period.
I tweet a lot during TMC, and I tweet A LOT on the last day of TMC. Stats aren’t available, but on a lark at the end of TMC 14 I did some dumb predictions about where TMC 15 would be (having no clue). Enough people liked it I did it again. And now it’s a thing. For fun on the last day of TMC 18 I enabled every twitter notification on my phone just to watch the insanity (I do the tweet storm from a computer). I have amassed a bit of an audience and that’s cool. The goal of my twitter feed is to be very school focused in a very un-serious way. My feed makes a little more sense when you meet me in person. I tweet a lot of gold when I’m grading. Kids are hilarious.
As others have noticed, blogs seem to be less important to teaching, not that mine ever got any huge runway. In fact, the biggest traction I get is from stuff that’s wound up on Pinterest. But yes, I have an audience. And yes, I am very thankful for you. If you’ve ever left a comment or sent me an email, I appreciate them and make a point to try to reply to them all. Other than some spikes here and there, getting traction with a teacher blog is tough. Things just don’t stay in the spotlight very long at all, and it seems like a lot of people have run out of time for reading them. Tweets are easier to parse, but you still have to tweet a lot for people to pay attention (in general a tweet will be “seen” by 10% of your followers if you’re lucky, about 5% will click links). Google Reader dying in 2013 hasn’t helped.
I post less than I used to, but I have less to figure out than I used to. In 2013, 14, and 15 I wrote over 70 entries each year. Now it’s around 50. I was deep in the weeds trying to figure stuff out some years ago, primarily working on improving the quality of student products and exploring technology integration. Those two problems were HUGE and have been kind of solved. I still have things to work on, but I haven’t needed to rely on writing as much to do them.
This site still has a purpose, and it will continue. I still treat myself as the main audience and there are still things I want to see on here. It has been a boon for documenting ideas throughout the school year to discuss at end of year appraisals. And 2018 was a good year for the site. Audience numbers were up and its role as a vehicle for Varsity Math was huge. I have an infrastructure in place to make regular merchandise offerings a reality. I eagerly await the TMC 19 shenanigans.