When I didn’t blog
I write. I proofread, change a few things and add the links. And then I press ‘Publish’ and my words appear on this site, for all the world to read.
(Okay, ‘all the world’ may be a slight exaggeration. But my site gets visitors, and I’m pretty sure some of them are actual people. The comments are hugely appreciated, honestly.)
So almost a year ago, I was halfway through that process when I paused. I read through my text again, about a way to teach mathematical relationships that wasn’t so, well, mathematical. And then, instead of putting it online, I sent an email wondering if it might, with editing and improvement, be worth submitting for publication.
And I was told that yes, I should consider it.
I want to emphasize that the following process was worthwhile. The end result – which is linked below – was far better than the first draft. It was better worded, the language was clearer, the ideas were better reasoned and better explained. The examples were improved and expanded. I’m really happy with it and proud to be published.
But it took so long: eight months from first draft being shared to publication. I didn’t keep a clear record of each step, which I now wish I had. (Did you know that you can name versions in Google Drive to summarise the changes? I do now…) The points below are a rough idea of what happened, not a precise timeline.
- First draft of ‘Maths Narratives’ shared in April 2017: is this worth submitting?
- Yes, but might be worth changing X and Y, and have you thought about Z?
- Second version submitted to SSR.
- Helpful comments and gentle prompt to refer to submission guidance.
- Third version, in house style, submitted to SSR.
- More helpful comments, query about word count.
- Fourth version, with further improvements, shared with a couple of science teacher friends via twitter.
- Fifth version with changes made following (very helpful) comments from those twitter friends.
- Feedback from SSR reviewers via email, all very constructive.
- Some of the suggested changes were included, some were not. None was ignored; in several cases I changed the text to better explain what I was saying in response.
- Resubmitted to SSR.
- Final editorial feedback to increase the word count with longer explanations (my piece was now being accepted as an article, not one of the briefer ‘Science Notes’). This meant adding an abstract and other academic features.
- Final resubmission, accepted with provisional publication date.
- Proof sent to me for checking, legal form from SSR.
- Final proof sent as PDF.
- Formulae as Scientific Stories published in December 2017 issue of School Science Review.
- Don’t underestimate your work. Being a classroom teacher means that clear explanations and innovative approaches are what you do. If something’s worth blogging, then it’s worth asking yourself if it would benefit from more development and a bigger audience.
- Trust your colleagues, near and far. Every single person I approached for opinions, all of whom were busy and overworked, were supportive, helpful and made good suggestions.
- Expect it to take time. Lots of time. No, more time than that.
- Recognise that some of the stages will make no sense to you. It’s just the way academic publishing works. Recognise that the boring tasks are the price you pay for the support that lets you improve what you’re making.
Usual appeal for feedback
It’s possible I may have been procrastinating. I have loads to do, with the conference I may have accidentally agreed to lead starting tomorrow. But I’m glad I took this half-hour out, partly to calm down and partly because it’s long overdue. I’m proud of what I wrote, damnit. (I considered sending a copy for my Mum to put on her fridge…)
I’d really appreciate some responses to this, on two levels. Firstly, have you considered turning a blog into an article – or are you thinking about it now? And secondly, please let me know what you think of the ideas in the paper itself, PDF linked above for those of my readers who don’t have access to SSR.