That is the question, especially in Philadelphia where a teacher lost her job because of what she wrote on her blog. I don’t want to write about her but about what it means to be writing about education in a 2.0 world. The Philadelphia Inquirer quoted Chris Lehmann, who it turns out was quoting Christian Long, in saying that if you don’t want to shout it in a crowded hallway for all to hear, you should not be including it on your blog. Every word that we publish goes out to the world, and when we, as educators, write our thoughts, the audience is not anonymous. The audience has the potential to be full of other educators, parents and as well as the general public. The ability in today’s world for teachers to learn from each other is so significant. We do not need to master it all; we can join together to develop the best for our students. We need to share our successes and our failures, so that we will all become stronger in our practice.
While it can be tricky to write about school and students, it is possible if you are alert. The issue from an earlier post of “First Do No Harm” applies equally here. We must only speak about students in ways that build them up. We must be as fiercely protective of each student as a mother bear is of her cubs. If there is a discussion about fault or something that went wrong in the classroom, it needs to be the teacher who is accepting responsibility. There is plenty to write about how a lesson could have been taught in a better way or what a teacher learned from a mistake.
Sitting in front of a computer makes writing feel very private, almost like writing in a diary. And it can be that, as long as the Publish button is not pushed. It is only the author’s at those times. But the moment that the decision is made to present your ideas to the world, to push the Publish button, the distance and anonymity evaporate. Your thoughts are there for all of the world to read and respond to. That is the wonder and the possible horror of blogging. We each explore and then expose our thinking for all to see. It becomes part of the public record, gone from the safety of our private world.
Unlike in daily conversation, however, as a blogger, I am not there when my words are read. They have to stand alone and explain my thinking. If I rush to send my words out, or if I respond too quickly to an event in my life, I run the risk of speaking without clarity or without wisdom. We need to read and review each post to make sure we are attaining the highest possible standards when speaking about students.
Blogging is a wonderful way for educators to share their insights and frustrations with teaching in the 21st century. We can grow together and adapt to the changing world as we support each other. We just need to remember that our audience has the potential to be vast. If you don’t want your principal, your parent body, your friends to be reading your entries, do not write them, or write them and do not publish them. It is critical as educators that we model the best uses of the internet. We do not want a backlash from administrators, worried that they can not trust their teachers. We want to demonstrate the benefits to our practice and those of other teachers when we listen and learn from each other.
I couldn’t agree more. We are role models, and our blogs must reflect our public, teaching personas. Blogs should only be mediums to promote positive practices in our schools.
I really think that it is beneficial to teaching practice and blogging helps you learn to do better. So many times when I am writing a post myself, I have changed my thoughts on the topic or just had a better understanding of what I am doing for/with my school. I know as an administrator, it is important for me to show that I am willing to reflect on my practice, and blogging ensures that I will do this. Thanks for this post!
I couldn’t agree more, George. When I sit down and write about what I have done, it freezes that moment, and I can learn so much more from it. Thanks for commenting.
The teacher who lost her job committed the sin of allowing her personal politics to interfere with her teaching which good teachers should never do. Blogging about it made things even worse. Teachers should remember what Ronald Reagan said, “Do not speak ill of other Republicans.” Just replace Republicans with students, parents, and teaching professionals. Whenever I talked about students it was in general and it was to praise something they did. Same with other education professionals.
I agree, even as a mom-blogger, I struggle with how much to reveal, how ‘real’ to be. It’s a line to walk, if I am not real enough though, then I am one dimensional- and seem fake-y cheery.
what do you think about blogging and taking steps to be completely anonymous? as bad? better? more real?
I try to be as real and transparent as I can be about myself. I am writing about how to be a better teacher, not about what is “wrong” with my students. I find if I focus on my own learning curve and be honest about the successes and the challenges, then I can keep the right focus. Good luck!
I absolutely love your blog post! I have two different professional blogs and two Grade 1 student blogs, and I think that blogging is a wonderful way for me to reflect on my own teaching practices, and ultimately, become a better teacher. That being said, every time I blog I think about what I remind my students of before they blog: what you write is up on the Internet for the entire world to see. Don’t be mean, be careful how much personal information you share, and make sure you re-read what you say before you press publish. It’s funny how rules for students can be equally useful rules for teachers.
So true! If we remembered to do half of what we tell the students to do, it would be easier! Great set of rules!
I wrote about it too here: http://blog.parentella.com/2010/what-would-you-do
I think that this is great. Blogging is a great way for educators to share their insights with teaching. It can help become a better teacher. Teachers should choose their words wisely when blogging. Do not put too much information about personal life. If you decide to talk about a child do not be mean or harsh because if you put it on the internet the whole world will see. Be honest in what you post.