After finishing a rewrite for my upcoming book Digital Student Portfolios, I took a moment to briefly reflect. Where am I at? Where did I start? This post is my 232nd on my blog, now two and half years old (young?). I am pretty sure I am a better writer now than when I started.
Just yesterday, I was fortunate enough to come across a kindergarten teacher’s first blog post.
As I read her initial writing, I was almost envious of her position. Her writing was fresh, full of enthusiasm, and excited about the future. Not that my posts necessarily lack any of these qualities, but getting started in becoming more reflective about one’s own practice is very exciting. I left a comment, recognizing her accomplishment and expressing my anticipation of future posts from her.
This lengthy intro leads into my primary question: Why should educators blog?
To quote John Belushi from Animal House, “Why not?” But I know that this is not always a possibility for many current practitioners. We have families. We consider our time away from school sacred. We are working a second job and don’t have the time. I get it. I have been there at one point or another.
At the same time, to want to write about our own practice via a blog first requires a burning desire to do so. This need circumvents all the reasons not to write. That feeling of a need to share, to express our current thinking, or to reflect on our experiences, can each be the catalyst for us to start blogging.
So what might be the impetus for our initial post?
Because I have so much going on in my head
Whether it stems from our need to share and reflect, or our fear of losing what we have learned, blogging can provide that needed online space for this purpose. For me, the act of writing out what I have learned is a very challenging process. That probably means that it is also important at a cognitive and metacognitive level. I have to think back about what happened and consider the artifacts, such as images of my learning, before inserting them into the post.
Because I would like to go back to what was in my head
In their book The Reflective Educator’s Guide to Classroom Research (Corwin, 2009), Nancy Fitchman Dana and Diane Yendol-Hoppey describe blogging as a teacher’s “personal pensieve” (91). This is in reference to the Harry Potter series, in which Dumbledore, the head wizard, keeps personal memories magically stowed away for later retrieval.
The idea is that the teacher is not only dumping their thinking into an online space, but also intends to come back to it for future reflection and learning. Using categories and tags can help in this later process of searching for previous posts.
Because I have something important to share
Maybe our experiences, readings and online interactions have led us to some new thinking. Educators are notorious for not wanting to share their ideas with reasons such as, “Why would I share that? What I do is nothing special.” We also know, especially if you already are a connected educator, that this reasoning is not accurate at all. What a particular idea looks like in a certain classroom or school is very context-specific. Just because it has been applied in a different setting doesn’t mean it is unoriginal.
Because everything I have to share is important
We all need to be sharing what is going well in our schools. The current political climate that does not favor the individual teacher, along with non-educators cherry picking standardized assessment scores to push forward their personal agendas, has created a situation where not sharing our best work is a default knock against our profession. If there are no opposing viewpoints, who are the public to believe? Make your students’ learning visible as often as you can on your blog.
Because “Why not?”
Okay, it is hard to argue with John Belushi. I previously gave some reasons why some educators may not have time. But don’t you already write a classroom or school newsletter? How hard would it be to just copy and paste the text and images onto a blog, and let everyone in the world see it? Or at least your students’ families?
What we have to share on a blog is significantly more important than what any person or organization could possibly provide. What you could post is the real deal. No conjectures or agenda. Just your and your students’ experiences on a daily basis. If you are still struggling to come up with a reason to start blogging, try starting here.