I have been a big advocate of blogging for teachers, but not until I started doing it myself. Personally, I realized that the time I take to sit down and reflect on what I do, what I read, or what I observe has really helped my own path as an educator and an administrator. Sometimes, for my own clarification, I go back and read my own blog to look at what I have done and how I can continuously work on it to improve. This transparent way of learning is something that I believe can not only improve the teaching profession as a whole (for example, take a look at the conversation on this Pernille Ripp post from today), but is something that could really improve learning for our students.
Dean Shareski talked about this in his article entitled, “How to Make Better Teachers“, and the one word he used for his answer was “blogging”. Dean pushes this concept and shares how blogging mirrors some of the same objectives of Professional Learning Communities:
I’ve yet to hear anyone who has stuck with blogging suggest it’s been anything less than essential to their growth and improvement. I’ve no “data” to prove this but I’m willing to bet my golf clubs that teachers who blog are our best teachers. If you look at the promise of Professional Learning Communities that our schools have invested thousands, more likely millions to achieve, blogs accomplish much of the same things. The basic idea of the PLC is to have teachers share practice/data and work in teams to make improvements. A good blog does this and more.
Taking Dean’s advice on giving teachers a blog, I encouraged our new teachers to the division to start blogging and several of them showed up at my office asking me to set them up immediately. The reason I am even writing this post is by watching some of our Parkland School Division teachers jumping into the practice of blogging, with one new teacher writing a fantastic post on her own learning with one of division’s initiatives. Kendra shared what she was learning not only with her students and parents, but with the entire world. We often talk about going to professional development and what are we going to do on Monday to improve practice. She didn’t even wait until she returned before she started implementing the practice and starting asking questions of her students, while sharing her own learning:
(Discussing the Dalton Sherman video) What powerful message did you think of? Some of the powerful messages that we came up with include:
- We need to believe in each of our individual students and our class as a whole.
- We need to believe in ourselves and our abilities, and believe that our students needs us.
- We need to believe in our colleagues and they need to believe in us.
What an amazing way to share our initiatives in the school division while also deepening her own learning.
After reading that post, an older post of Kendra’s popped up in my reader where she did research on a topic suggested by her “star student”. The student has an interest in Pokemon and Kendra quoted the student in her blog post:
One of my favourite things is Pokemon. My favourite Pokemon is Mesprit because he is one of the keys to finding Dialiga. My brother gives me Pokemon cards. One of the coolest Pokemons is Lugia. I go crazy for Pokemon.
She then goes on to detail the research process that she went through to learn about the student’s interest which I found absolutely brilliant for a couple of reasons. Here, the teacher is modelling the learning process for her students, while also building a relationship with the student through transparently showing interest in a topic of the child’s choice. I guarantee that Pokemon is nowhere in the curriculum, but what this teacher did goes way beyond that.
What amazed me about this whole process was that this is coming from a new teacher (I know she is new to our division but not sure about teaching) who has only just started blogging. I did not have the time to go over in any detail with teachers why they should blog, I just gave them the platform to do so. Whether you have been teaching one year, or 30, there is so much we can learn from everyone.
Although Dean’s post was entitled, “How to Make Better Teachers“, from what I am seeing, it could have been easily entitled, “How to Make Better Schools”. There is so much we can learn from one another. We need to continuously work to create the culture and environment where sharing is the norm and learning is transparent.