I read recently that the number one topic written about in blog entries is blogging. So what better topic to start my blogging journey than such a popular one. Besides, I think it's an important question to wrestle with. Why am I interested in taking the time and energy to write my thoughts and share them publicly? Isn't there enough to do without adding a publishing job to my plate? Moreover, why would anyone be interested in reading my rambling thoughts? But alas, here I am, taking a risk and going for it.
As I've worked through some of the very good reasons for me to blog, I'm also dealing with the challenges and even fears that come with doing this. So here are five reasons I'm blogging and how each reason has a flip side that scares the heck out of me.
1. Blogging allows for reflection on ideas, issues, and events.
As a high school principal I am very focused either in the moment or in the future moment, and I rarely take the time to intentionally reflect on all the ideas making their way into my head. As an overarching goal, reflection is a primary reason for my blogging venture. We know how important it is to reflect. It helps us learn from what has happened, consider the weight of our actions, and process the massive amounts of information we take in daily. When we blog it requires us to think deeper and develop ideas more fully. It also helps us to create a written record of our thoughts and feelings on a topic. I often have ideas that begin to fade from my conscious thinking, but blogging can allow me to preserve these thoughts to refer to later. So in a sense, I am able to reflect now and again in the future as I revisit previous entries.
Flip side: I've never reflected like this, in a forum as public as a blog entry. What will I write about and will I have anything worthwhile to say? What if others hate the writing I produce? Worse yet, what if I really hate the writing I produce?
2. Blogging provides a forum to share my perspective.
There are many issues facing students and schools that I feel passionately about. The stakes are high for creating a future in education that is positive and effective for our youth and nation. Blogging allows me to develop my thoughts on the issues that matter and perhaps influence the thinking of others. There are many voices in the mix as decisions are made about local, state, and national education policy. I'd like to have my voice heard as well. We certainly don't want critical policy development left to individuals disconnected from public schools (see image below). In addition, I can share things that have worked in our school and how we are striving to improve the learning experiences for our students. While I have always worked to celebrate students success, this blog will give me the forum to really examine why certain strategies in our school worked or didn't work.
Flip side: Am I informed enough on important issues to make intelligent, meaningful posts? How do I balance sharing ideas on broad education topics versus things happening in our school?
3. It's important for educators to model digital literacy and citizenship.
Relevance is an important part of learning. Students want to learn things they find relevant and beneficial to their lives. Since so much work and play is done online in our ever-changing world, I believe strongly that students should be taught digital literacy and citizenship throughout the school experience. Students need opportunities to recognize that the use of social media and other online venues can be a blessing or a burden. If students present themselves poorly online or engage in dangerous behaviors, the internet can quickly reduce chances for success and hurt one's personal brand. Through engagement in blogging and social media, educators have the opportunity to demonstrate how the internet and social media can be used for connecting and learning and helping make the world a better place. The effective use of SM and blogging can build one's brand and open doors of opportunity and influence.
Flip side: Will students find anything here relevant? Will my efforts to blog have any real influence on the way students view publishing online content? Will teachers be more likely to blog or have students blog? Or, is this a complete waste of time?
4. Educators can connect and share ideas through blogging and social media.
By blogging and by asking for feedback on my posts, I hope to learn by having my ideas tested against other views. I also hope to gain new relationships to add to my PLN (personal learning network), a group of educators sharing and learning through social media. There are so many experts that can contribute to my knowledge, and I love getting new ideas or refining old ones through new connections on Twitter. Collaboration and learning can be done at any time or place with our digital resources. And, I can always find a discussion that meets my own personal and professional needs. The autonomy of this type of learning is very rewarding.
Flip side: Will anyone even visit my blog? Will I truly learn from this or just attempt to collect followers?
5. Other educators have developed blogs that have made an impact on my thinking.
My final reason here is that I've seen the great example of other educators who have produced blogs that are really thought provoking and have helped me be a better educator. My mission is to be the best I can be to help others and make an impact as an educator. Because others have shown the benefits of blogging, I am willing to give it a try in spite of fears I've shared here.
Flip side: Compared to other education bloggers, will my work be worthwhile?
Fears aside, it's time to give this a try! I hope you found something here to encourage your blogging interests. I'd love to here from you so share what you are thinking and writing.