I was reading some blog posts from a course that used my blog to push some thinking. The post that they discussed talks about being proactive through blogging used for reflection. It was interesting to read some of the posts which were mostly in agreement with my stance on the importance of open reflection, but one came off as critical of the notion. Of course, this is for a university course where blogging is part of the requirement, and the motivator is obviously more extrinsic than anything. That being said, when I started a blog, I thought it was kind of a useless activity, but when I immersed myself in it, I found it to be the best thing that I have ever done for my own professional development.
Teachers in my own district have started blogging, and I distinctly remember a first-year teacher blogging and sharing what she learned with her parents, students and community. I was blown away by her transparency for learning, and how she brought along her own community by sharing her learning, We often complain about the isolation that is evident in education, but it is no longer a foregone conclusion. Isolation is now a choice educators make. If we believe that we are better together, blogging is an opportunity to open the doors to our classroom.
Don’t just take my word for it though. Below are some articles that have resonated with me on the power of blogging for our own development, and the development of our profession.
1. 5 Reasons Educators Should Have Blogs – A very clear and concise argument on the power of blogging in our professional practice. The focus on developing understanding, collaboration, digital footprint and modelling stick out in this post.
Will Richardson argues that students aren’t really digital natives. In reality, while they may have little fear in using digital technology, they don’t really know how to appropriately utilize those tools. We can model blogging for our students so they can write for a purpose and for an audience.
2. How To Make Better Teachers – Dean Shareski writes a compelling argument on how blogging improves teaching, and this has been a post I have redistributed often. Dean focuses mostly on the transparency that blogging creates, and that this is part of the important work that we are NOT doing in our schools.
There’s a natural transparency that emerges. The teachers who blog as professionals in this reflective manner in my district invite anyone to look into their classrooms and you can get a picture of what happens on a daily basis. This goes a long way in addressing accountability concerns.
Teachers have for years had to fill in a plethora of reports and forms which in essence are accountability papers. For the most part they are of no use to teachers and in most cases aren’t very valuable for administration either. Busy work.
If we really took the time to think about what we do in our learning, which blogging often forces us to do, how could educators not get better?
3. How Successful Networks Nurture Good Ideas – This blog is not focused on educators, but in my opinion, and more importantly, learning. The author argues that even though much of what is out there is “crap,” blogging still brings a very powerful element to our learning.
But focusing on the individual writers and thinkers misses the point. The fact that so many of us are writing — sharing our ideas, good and bad, for the world to see — has changed the way we think. Just as we now live in public, so do we think in public. And that is accelerating the creation of new ideas and the advancement of global knowledge.
Kind of powerful stuff, isn’t it?
With all of the great ideas shared in the post, a few sentences stood out to me and I felt a figurative “slap in the face” when I read them:
Having an audience can clarify thinking. It’s easy to win an argument inside your head. But when you face a real audience, you have to be truly convincing.
Personally, blogging has made me really think about what I do in my role as an administrator, and I would say that the process has really clarified a lot of my thinking. The other aspect of writing for an audience and getting their feedback has made a huge difference on my learning as being challenged has made me really think about my work. In fact, I am writing this because someone read my blog post, challenged it, and I came back to revisit my thinking. That wouldn’t have happened if I wrote it in a journal that I tuck away at home.
Do you have a blog? If you do, how has it improved your learning and made you a better teacher?
If you don’t, what is holding you back?
“Time” will always be an answer that jumps into the mix, but if it has the impact on learning that so many say, wouldn’t priority trump that argument?