Recently, I overheard some educators discussing personal websites, Facebook, Twitter, and blogs. Although I wasn’t a part of this conversation, I couldn’t help but hear what they were saying (okay, I was eavesdropping).
The most disappointing part of what I heard was this statement: “Oh, who has time for all of that garbage?!?! All those things are just vanity tools. Nobody with a real life has that kind of time to waste.”
If you know me well, you know that 1) my blood pressure probably sky-rocketed after hearing that, 2) my eyes went into “crazy” mode (that’s for you, Jacen), and 3) it took every ounce of restraint I’ve ever had not to walk up to the group and set them straight. I started to walk in their direction three times, and then turned back around. I wanted to tell them that, yes… SOME people use those tools for their own personal celebrity. There are plenty who don’t, though. How can you have an opinion over something you don’t even use???
In this post, I want to address only one of those so-called “vanity” sites: blogging.
When I started this blog, I primarily used it to share what I was learning, as well as a reference site for some presentations I had given. I’m not sure it was a tool for reflection as much as it was a tool for me to “speak my mind.” … and there’s nothing wrong with that if that’s the purpose of your blog.
Now, though, I want to use this blog as an instrument for reflection, as well as a means for holding myself accountable.
- Do I walk my talk?
- Does my teaching reflect the passion I spell out here?
- Am I living that philosophy that I have shared and preached for the last few years?
More than once in my life as a student, a teacher told me that journaling was one of the best ways to record your thoughts, feelings, new experiences, and anything else you felt that you wanted to include. It was personal. It was reflective. It was a part of you. Blogs are simply online journals… and unlike the journals no one ever saw because I squirreled them away, my blog is viewed by others. Some of them even leave me feedback.
Hmmm… reflection and feedback. Aren’t those two very important pieces in the learning process?
It’s really easy for me to play the role of the puffed-up windbag. I have a lot to say, and I’m not shy about saying any of it. The only way, however, for me to ensure that I am NOT just a windbag is to back up what I say with action. The action is more important anyway!
If I blog about what I’m doing in my classroom and what I’m learning, and I know people are reading, I can be a better reflective learner. I can hold myself accountable to always do what is best for kids. It doesn’t matter if I have two readers or 2,000.
That’s why I blog.
I enjoyed reading your post. Teachers with their heads in the sand criticize things they don’t know anything about. Reflection is a part of the writing process. Unfortunately, these teachers don’t know what they are missing out on. I just start my PLN two weeks ago and love it. I have learned sooooooo much–more than attending conferences. Keep up the good work.
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Agreed! Well put!
Thank you Michelle! I am very new to blogging and have spent the summer trying to find my niche. To hear a conversation like that would make me pretty angry too.
I have settled on 4 blogs now – 2 education related. The one I’ve inputted in my reply is my general, ‘this is what I’m thinking and reading’ one and has been the hardest because it’s been hard to decide the purpose (and that has been an important part of the process) and the audience. It really is putting your beliefs on the line when you open your thoughts up to the world!
My others? One is my rant about my crazy cats, one is a travelogue for family and friends (definitely COULD appear vain to some), but the other important one will contain our staff bulletins in the hope that all staff will start to see the usefulness of blogs.
My general one does need to come more from my heart and experience. I’m going to keep at it – thanks for your commitment!!!
Fantastic post, Michelle. I agree wholeheartedly! I love the questions you ask yourself about being accountable! I feel the same about blogging. My hope for blogging is that by reflecting on my practice and sharing my learning in a public forum, my blogging will help me in shifting and improving my practice. I hope it makes me a better teacher.
This blog post really resonated with me. I too put a lot of heart into my blog posts. People respond to some posts more than others (actually, people comment very little on my blog posts and I’m not sure what to make of that) but ultimately, as you say, blogging helps me clarify my own thoughts about my values, life and education. We are all on a learning journey and ironically, “garbage” guy might end up blogging one day and not realize the irony of it all… I think we are all guilty of judging too quickly sometimes, myself included. As for blogging, it’s like talking; is it all worth listening to? probably not. Does that mean we should all stop talking? probably not.
A great post!
@Susan I’m so glad you stopped by the blog and happy that you are building your network! You already see the benefits… very cool!
@Chris aw, thanks, man! We might need some cinnamon bears as a reward or something. haha
@Jeannette wow! 4 blogs! More power to you! I have 2 professional (one is part of my classroom website), and 1 personal. I can barely keep up. Can’t wait to read you!
@MrsHoneysett … and that’s part of what makes you a great teacher already! The fact is that we know we need to be reflective to improve our practice, but how many people really DO it? You are, and that’s awesome! Lucky students in your class!!
@Ingrid someone once told me I need to “market” my blog posts more, especially if I want comments. I’m not usually one for self-promotion, but it made sense. Many people who subscribe to blogs view them through an RSS feed. They read, they move on. If a post is particularly compelling, they might jump over to the actual blog site and comment there. I started promoting specific posts on Twitter and actually ask for comments. Ask and you shall receive. haha
I love you summary as to why you blog. Mine are very similar. Your questions are great too.
I find that many teachers have lost (if they had it) the ability to reflect and a quote I heard recently that teaching needs to be ‘de-privatised’ is apparent. Blogging makes that happen as we open our thinking to others.
I also love the light bulb moment post that brought me here.
[…] is Michelle Baldwin‘s blog. She blogs to gain insight into her own teaching and receive feedback and new ideas […]