If a tree falls in a forest and nobody is around to hear it, does it make a sound? Or to put it another way, why am I blogging?
On my return to school after the Christmas break I go onto a flexible schedule. This schedule will allow me to work in classrooms with the students, supporting the entire curriculum. It will also enable me to work with small groups of teachers to help them develop their own 21st century skills. I've decided that with this group of teachers I am going to start with blogging - after all we already have our students blogging, therefore surely it's time for the teachers to get on board too! Our blogs will basically be reflections on our practice as teachers, our questions and wonderings, and we will comment on each other's blogs and support other colleagues who are moving in this direction.
Earlier this week I was reading a blog post by Kelly Tenkely, a technology integration specialist and instructional coach for elementary teachers. In her blog iLearn Technology she writes about how she started blogging about technology in education and sharing links to great educational resources. She goes onto say:
I believed that I was doing something worthwhile and decided that I didn’t care if no one seemed to notice. Blogging did something else for me, it made me a better teacher. I understood the learning process better because I was engaged in it on a daily basis.
Kelly goes on to say how blogging led to her developing her own Personal Learning Network as a result of the educational discussions she has had from reading others' blogs and from people reading hers. She says:
I have been surrounded by greatness and others who are passionate about learning and teaching others to do the same. I have become convinced that those educators that I connect with virtually are among the smartest, most innovative people on the planet.
My own learning journey has been the other way round from Kelly's, though I would agree absolutely with her last statement. As I've mentioned a couple of times already on this blog, my PLN has given me more professional development in the past year, than I have probably had in my entire 28 years of teaching! The only thing that comes close to it was some years ago while I was teaching in the Netherlands and was involved in a European-wide project for teachers on reflective practice. I had partners in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, the UK and Spain and we met up probably twice a year. This programme was organised through Comenius with the following aims:
I was part of a dynamic group of teachers for 6 years (3 of them actually working on this project) and am still in contact with these teachers today. We discussed things like student motivation and how our curriculum differed between the various countries. We looked at how we passed on our knowledge as teachers to those coming newly into the profession.
Sometime after this, at a different school in Asia, I then started to use Twitter to connect, first of all, with other educators in Asia that I met at conferences and workshops. This later expanded to take in some of the educators that they were following too.
While I have been blogging on a personal basis for quite a while now (for family and friends who wanted to share our Asian adventure and then also our move back to Europe again), it has taken me a long time to get into blogging as a professional. While I was quite happy to read others educational blogs and even to comment on them, I kept asking myself what good it could do to write yet one more blog and who on earth would want to read it when there were so many other great ones out there. Finally I have come to realise that I am blogging for myself and my new colleagues, as well as modelling blogging for my students. Actually I enjoy writing - it helps me to sort out my own thoughts, reflect on where I have been, where I am now and perhaps plan for where I want to go in the future. And hopefully, at the same time, it leads to me becoming a better teacher too.