One of the topics for #IMMOOC Season 2, Week 5 (based on George Couros’ book The Innovator’s Mindset), is to reflect on the impact that the process of blogging has on us as a teacher.
Like most teachers I was interested in the concept of blogging but it took me a heckuva long time to pluck up the courage to actually think that I had something to write about. It has been four years now and over 60 posts and even though few people actually read what I write, the process has certainly been an important one. I have found that the most powerful thing is going back and reading what I’ve written in the past, even if few other people did. It is amazing to be able to say, “Wow, have I ever learned a lot more about that new thing I tried.” If for no other reason, the blogging platform is a great way to follow our personal growth and morphing as educators.
But there are other reasons!
As a side gig, I teach an Education Technology course to pre-service teachers at our local college. When I took over the course, I really only made one significant change to what the previous prof had covered. I knew I had to help these new teachers grow their PLN and get connected to the thousands of other teachers out there who are pushing at the boundaries of what education can and should become. To accomplish this, I had them create a blog and a Twitter account.
Without fail, their first reactions involve eye-rolling. As one student put it, “Isn’t blogging something that stay at home mom’s do to fill their time posting about recipes and hair-dos?” And a typical reaction to Twitter: “Twitter is so ’10th grade’.”
Every semester I re-evaluate the value of these two platforms to educators, and come to the same conclusion….Twitter and the blogoshpere are two places where teachers “go to grow”. Perfect evidence is the tasks set out in the #IMMOOC Challenges every week: they involve Twitter and blogging.
Over the semesters, I have refined my approach to introducing these platforms to my college pre-service teachers, and it has resulted in greater buy-in. I have them start by reading pieces from two of my favourite educational bloggers: Tom Whitby’s “Do Educator’s Really Need Blog Posts”, and “4 Reasons People Don’t Blog and Ideas to Help Change Their Minds” by George Couros. I then send them off to a “Top 100” Educational Bloggers type site to hunt around; invariably, their minds are blown by the teacher-blogoshpere that they had no idea was in existence. I show them sites from around the world where teachers use the blogging platform as a window into their students’ learning such as “Mrs. Cassidy’s Classroom Blog” where she showcases Grade 1 learners. And so the value of blogging as a teacher is planted as a seed. Over the course of the semester, they create their own blogs, many assignments are submitted as blog posts, and we practice respectfully commenting on the posts of our peers. At the end, most see the value of reading educational blogs, and some see themselves as teachers who will use blogging as a teacher or student process/tool in their future classrooms.
To sum up, whether as readers or writers, blogging is where teachers ‘go to grow.’