This post is a guest post I wrote for ASCD Inservice during Connected Educator Month 2015. The original post can be found here.
Writing has long been a way to reflect. People have kept journals and diaries kept for centuries. Some have become published works of art, while others are simple records of individuals’ thoughts. A common note on many childhood diaries or journals reads “Keep Out, Private.” Today, many diaries and journals are open to the world in the form of blogs.
Blogging provides educators an opportunity to write down their stories and enhance their professional practices. Educators have taken to this form of open communication to share ideas with others, reflect on educational practices, and connect and collaborate with one another. Read on to learn about how blogging facilitates each of these actions, and use the questions to help you think about how starting a blog could benefit you and your classroom.
Education was once a closed-door profession. Teachers entered their classrooms, closed the door, and taught. Often, teachers could go a whole day without speaking to other adults in the building. They had little time to collaborate and did not share ideas on a regular basis.
Today, teachers love to share their successes in their schools and classrooms. Blogging provides them an opportunity to open their doors. Sharing allows their ideas to influence a wider audience.
- What did your students do today that you want to share?
- What educational practices did you use today that would impact others?
- What educational resources do you find helpful?
Many educators use blogs to reflect on their own educational practices and add their voice to the field of education. Reflection and the act of composing thoughts in writing can strengthen learning. Reading the thoughts of others causes us to ponder and make sense of different perspectives.
- Do you want to strengthen your educational practices?
- Do you have views on a certain education topic? Do you want your voice heard?
- Do you want to impact others on a larger scale?
Blogs spark connections in a ripple effect. Bloggers share ideas or reflections on their blogs. Then, readers can internally connect with the message and easily comment on the post to initiate further interaction. Blogging can even lead to further connections outside of the blog, whether through other social media outlets or face-to-face interactions.
- Do you read and comment on blogs?
- Have you extended your blogging connection to Twitter chats, meeting at conferences, and beyond?
- How could you connect with other classrooms via blogging communities to team up on projects and share ideas?
Educators often connect on deeper levels once they find a group of individuals or groups of like-minded colleagues via blog posts or social media tools like Twitter. Collaboration can take many forms from collaborating on classroom-based projects, collectively developing materials or expanding skills together to enhance educational experiences.
Collaboration can take many forms, from connecting classrooms to studying a topic together to impact student learning.
- Has a certain blog post caught your eye? Could you collaborate with the author?
- Do you want to collaborate with other educators in similar fields?
- How could your classroom collaborate with another classroom on an upcoming project?
Blogging challenges incorporate all four areas (sharing, reflecting, connecting, and collaborating). The authors of the popular blog Two WritingTeachers have been posing challenges since 2008, including year-long, month-long, and weekly challenges. Teachers and students around the globe share, reflect, connect, and collaborate on many exciting projects.
The online #educoach Twitter community for instructional coaches will hold a blog challenge this month (October 2015). The challenge encourages bloggers to post one blog post each week during the month and comment on at least three other posts. You can find a running list of participants here. The challenge started when #educoach participants began discussing blogging during one of their weekly Twitter chats. Some coaches were looking for encouragement to start blogging while others needed the extra motivation to blog on a more consistent basis.
School districts can also set up districtwide challenges. Last year, the instructional leadership team of the Southeast Polk Community School District in Pleasant Hill, Iowa, composed of instructional coaches and the district curriculum coordinators, was challenged to blog at least once per week and share the posts using #sepreflects. The blog posts could be related to their positions, model lessons, professional reading, etc. Stephanie Laird, a Southeast Polk instructional coach, plans to roll out a similar blogging challenge to teachers in her building using #mvreflects. Her goal is to encourage teachers to reflect on, share, and celebrate the teaching and learning occurring in their classrooms each day.
Blogging allows educators to creatively share their thoughts and ideas and promotes reflection. Engaging in authentic writing not only enhances educators practices but also strengthens their skills as writers, which can be passed on to the students they serve.