It is time for the annual year in review on the 21k12 blog.  Over the past year I have posted just over 150 times, which is down a tad from 165 posts in 2010, but is meeting my goal of averaging 3 posts a week and 12-15 a month.

In page views, I am happy to share that my 70,000+ page views in 2011, compared to 29,200 in 2010 and about 16,000 in 2009, represents a second consecutive year of doubling my readership.   It would seem unlikely that I will be able to see a third year of doubling, but it does prompt me to set a not entirely unreasonable goal of 100,000 page views in 2012!

2011 also saw my first ever 7,000+ month, June, and my first ever 10,000+ month, October.  Both records were entirely due to the success of my top two posts/pages of the year, a page about Graduation Speeches I posted in May (2700+ at present), and an October post about the New York Times article on Waldorf education and technology on Waldorf education (3300+ at present).

For each of these two cases, I executed a deliberate, and seemingly successful, strategy to attract visitors: two alternate, even opposite strategies.   For the first, Graduation Speeches, my strategy was entirely focused on drawing search engine referrals.   As May approached, I had a flash remembering all the many times I have confronted the need to prepare an upcoming graduation address as a school-principal, and my impulse at those times to seek inspiration from examples from other principals.   Accordingly, I googled “graduation speeches by school principals,” but found only very few useful search results.   So what occurred to me last spring, realizing I had a set of a dozen of my own past graduation speeches, was that I could provide this service for other principals, posting my talks and organizing them under one umbrella page, which I then seeded with a slew of searchable terms (see the post to see what I mean).  It seemed to work– not only did the umbrella page capture nearly 3000 views, but seven of the speeches linked to from that page each received more than 400 views.  (The most popular of the 12 graduation talks was Struggle to Grow and Learn: Remarks to Middle School Students at Promotion).  What I wish I knew was whether any of these many visitors found any value in what I shared, or even drew upon any of them for their talks– but I have no idea.

For the post about a NYT front page article on technology at a Waldorf school, I took an almost opposite strategy, seeking to be “first out of the gate”  in posting my reaction to the article that morning, and then using Twitter as best I could to “push it” to become viral.  After tweeting it out myself, I then spent part of the day watching Twitter as others tweeted out links to the article and tweeting replies that I had posted a reaction– and then seeing many of those tweeters tweet out my post to their followers.   That day I received 820 views of just that post (my previous one-day record for all views being about 500), and the next day, 709.  I realize “viral” is a highly relative concept, but in my little corner of the blogosphere, this represented by far my greatest “viral” success.

Now the list: Top Ten Posts from 2011 here at 21k12:

  1. Deeply Disappointed: Responding to the New York Times article on Waldorf education and technology (3342)
  2. Graduation Speeches (2740)
  3. The Flipped Classroom Advances: Developments in Reverse Learning and Instruction (2216)
  4. Welcome Back to School Letter, August 2011 (1568)
  5. BYOD, Bring Your Own Digital Devices: The Next Wave in 1:1 Laptop learning in our schools? (1170)
  6. Structuring Personal Learning Environments for Students: Useful Guidance from Wendy Drexler (977)
  7. 7 Steps for Leading in 21st c. learning (944)
  8. Awards at St. Gregory: Changes We are Making to Recognize All Our Students (670)
  9. 15 Ways our Schools Can Prepare to be Relevant and Meaningful in 2015 and beyond (649)
  10. Celebrating the new NAIS Guide to Becoming A School of the Future (531)

The Welcome Back to School letter post surprised me with its traffic; this volume was entirely the result of google searches for “welcome back to school letters,” following the pattern of graduation speeches.  But whereas I can see a graduation speech as having a universality, whereby school-leaders might draw inspiration from others, a welcome back to school letter seems much less universal, tied only to its own particular circumstances.  But I hope some who visited after a search found it helpful.

The Structuring Personal learning environments post also surprised me: I expected very little activity here, as I just thought to share something I’d read in NAIS Independent School magazine, but it got picked up in a few places and has continued to circulate widely on twitter.  Go figure: sometimes you have no idea what will generate interest.

Now, a different list: not the most viewed, but my own ten favorites or, in my view,  most important/substantial pieces.   These are heavier pieces than most, longer and wordier, and articulate a lot of thinking that I have been doing.   Several of them were prepared in advance of presentations I did, and I think they offer the most value of what I have been trying to share here on the blog.

  1. 15 Ways our Schools Can Prepare to be Relevant and Meaningful in 2015 and beyond 
  2. 7 Steps for Leading in 21st c. learning
  3.  The Flipped Classroom Advances: Developments in Reverse Learning and Instruction 
  4. Awards at St. Gregory: Changes We are Making to Recognize All Our Students 
  5. Celebrating the new NAIS Guide to Becoming A School of the Future 
  6. Become an “Eeel:” The 17 E’s of Electronic Education Leadership Excellence: Leadership Day 2011 (Hat tip to Tom Peters
  7. Summer Reading 2011 for Educators and Others
  8. Affirming the Ideal of the Polis in the Wake of Tucson’s Tragedy: Remarks to Students
  9. Blogging and the New Culture of Learning
  10. 18 Tips for Becoming Better Educational Innovation Leaders: Advice from Christensen’s Innovator’s DNA

Over at Connected Principals, my most popular posts have included:

  1.  Reverse Instruction: Dan Pink and Karl’s “Fisch Flip” (6800 views in 2011, my most viewed post-ever). 
  2. Race to Nowhere: One Principal’s Response (3500)
  3. 8 Rules for Managers from Google: “Technical Expertise” is dead-last (2255)
  4. The Finland Phenomenon: Learning from the new Tony Wagner film (2512)
  5. 8 Suggestions for Graduation remarks by Principals, with 10 book recommendations (2098)
  6. 8 Guiding Questions for Conversations about Becoming a School of the Future (1934)
  7. Salman Khan, Transformer (1524)
  8. Standing in the Back, Watching the Screens (1518)
  9. The 17 E’s of Excellent Electronic Education Leadership, with a Nod to Tom Peters (1108)

Thank you for reading!  Onwards to 2012, in what I hope will be another productive year in blogging!