When my studies at the Faculty of Education at Queen's University came to a close, Tom suggested that we maintain a correspondence as my teaching career got underway. I was glad he suggested this, because I was already feeling the panic of having to move from the comfortable waters of the university out into the raging rapids of my first teaching post, and I knew that I would be tempted to write him for advice.
As part of a class assignment, Tom had created blogs for each teacher candidate to use to discuss practicum experiences, and it seemed natural to continue to use mine to record our conversations. Much later, with my first 2 years of teaching completed and over 100,000 words written between the two of us, I was finally able to step back and read through the blog from beginning to end. By then I had learned just how valuable this kind of conversation could be: it made possible a kind of in-depth self-study that I could carry out with the guidance of a mentor with years of experience as both a physics teacher and a teacher educator. The blog had become the perfect forum for me to express my professional successes and frustrations, and it pushed me to examine all aspects of my teaching in detail. It had given me a chance to ask for help during my most challenging times as a teacher, and Tom's constant interest, advice, and encouragement gave me the impetus to continue to try to improve my teaching and helped me survive stressful periods. The three major themes of my 2 years of teaching that played out on the blog were (1) managing the relationships in my classroom, (2) dealing with lowered academic expectations, and (3) continuing to develop a full and holistic pedagogical approach.