I’m Zack Miller. Even though I’m halfway around the world from my home in San Francisco, I’m thinking about my job. My condensed job description at the moment? (Founding) Math teacher, mentor, coach, and innovator (for lack of a better word) at a public charter high school in the Bay Area.
My first day as a classroom teacher was in August 2009 – just shy of 4 years ago – and I’ve been meaning to start a blog about my work since just about then. I’ve been inching towards it. Now, as I sit in a bamboo hut in Medellin, Colombia awaiting a delayed flight, I finally decided to take the plunge. Here’s why this blog is happening and what I hope will happen as a result (acknowledging that this will all undoubtedly change many times throughout the life of this thing):
First, this blog is for me and my students. For better or worse, I’m an extremely analytical guy. On the shortlist of things I enjoy slightly more than sports and summer traveling: second-guessing my teaching decisions, playing devil’s advocate against myself, and sitting down with a computer and just typing my thoughts. It’s therapeutic for me, and I often learn a heck of a lot as I analyze the things that happen in my classroom. All of this, in turn, benefits my students.
Second, this blog is for other teachers. I can’t begin to quantify how much I have benefited in the last four years from reading other teachers’ blogs. Dozens of teachers have unknowingly beefed up my curriculum, helped me decipher a baffling student, inspired a project idea or assessment plan, etc. To me, blog-reading has been the single best form of PD by a landslide. I hope that this blog will allow me to “pay it forward” and give back to the teacher blogging community that gave so much to me. And if I’m lucky enough to get the math blogosphere to read and dissect my blog at all, the conversations that will ensue will improve my practice.
Third, this blog is for those interested in innovation and reform in education. Two years ago, I was a founding teacher at a charter school that set out to use technology in innovative ways to boost student achievement and I was one of the main planners of our math program that I heard described as “what schools could look like in the future.” Now, I’ll be a founding teacher at another charter school that’s hoping to go further. There’s already a ton out there about education reform and the latest EdTech crazes; nearly all of it fascinates me, but where I find an abundance of high-level philosophy and jargon I often find a lack of discussion around actual implementation on the ground. I’m writing this blog as someone who is very much in the day-to-day and can offer some data points amidst these oft controversial issues.
Now, to make up for some lost time…