As educators, we all have to contend with the ever-present charge of integrating technology into our practice. Whether we choose to use technology in the process of imparting lessons to our students, or in facilitating the appraisal of our students’ comprehension, it seems fundamentally beneficial to embrace emerging technologies; beneficial not only to our students, but also to us. Not only does technology hold possibilities for saving us time and energy, but it can also help aid us in bringing deeper understanding to our students, as well as introducing them to the likely forums of their futures. The reasons a teacher might decide to maintain a blog are as varied as the ways in which a teacher might decide to implement technologies into his/her classroom. Some teachers reflect on the successes and failures of their lesson plans, and some teachers blog about the political side of teaching. Still others blog to be a voice of experience–to help new teachers along the way. I think all these types of blogs are valuable for the reader, and I find it reassuring that teachers find comfort in connecting to others through the forum of the blogging community–because if we expect our students to find authentic value in building an online community, then we should help pave the way.
In his blog, Learning is Messy, Brian Crosby writes about a variety of topics, ranging from comments on the future of education, to suggestions for an elementary school science experiment. Brian’s motive for blogging about his life is made clear by considering his intended audience: in all his posts, he appears to be addressing other teachers. I think it’s extremely important that teachers attempt to engage other teachers in the business of inspiring their students–to get students excited about lessons by bringing the world to them, and to get teachers excited about their careers. As an elementary teacher working with at-risk students, Brian is inspirational to me because he talks at length about the possibilities that skype holds for getting students enthusiastic. He seems to be quite successful to that end. In his “About me” section, Brian says that he believes, “if children are seen as the valuable public resource they are, while they do important work and learning, society will be more willing to invest in them.” It’s clear that for more reasons than one, he is a stellar teacher, and uses his influence to inspire his students, as well as the teachers who stumble upon his blog.
Running along the same lines as Mr. Crosby’s blog, I found Rebecca Roberts’s blog, Teaching as Art to be remarkably casual and genuine. The main difference between the two is that Brian’s blog is more about his personal philosophies on teaching as a institution, whereas Rebecca’s blog reads more like a sketchbook of personal ideas, with a major emphasis on representing her students’ work and her reflections on lessons. While Brian’s blog acts more as a call to teachers to become more energized in their involvement, Rebecca’s blog is a great example to teachers of a way to open up their classrooms to the outside world. In one post, Rebecca talks about her experience in guiding a student to develop her gifts, and in another, she offers a great chart for colors in painting. I think Teaching as Art is a much better example of the practical application of blogging than Learning is Messy, because while the latter is clearly intended for teachers, the former can be a rewarding read for teachers, parents, students, administration, as well as professional artists! It’s important, when we think about blogging, to not only be aware of our intended audience, but to be as inclusive as possible to all readers!
Still another example of the potential applications of blogging in the world of educators is the community spirit of The Teaching Palette. Essentially a forum for contributing content and discussing issues of Art Education, The Teaching Palette is an incredible resource for all Art teachers who either stumble upon it as visitors, or those who interact directly with the community. I think this is an example of the best possible iteration of a blog in the context of teaching–by combining the ease of publishing content that’s inherent to blogging with the richness of discussion forums, I believe that this kind of blog navigates the sometimes narcissistic waters of blogging with considerable wisdom. From topics like applying for educational grants to parental involvement, this blog is really astonishingly useful for teachers.
These different types of educator blogs illustrate the breadth and depth of content that can be covered in what some teachers consider, dismissively, as a shallow and self-aggrandizing medium. Even if the content has nothing specific to do with our individual classes or students, I think it’s clear that the value of digital community among teachers can have a profound effect on the sense of importance and camaraderie we have as professionals. I would suggest to all teachers to at least subscribe to teachers’ blogs, if not comment on posts or resolve to publish their own content–because by developing a thoughtful and purposeful environment within the teaching community, we can raise the standard for all education.