Penny for your thoughts? OK… how about a quarter? Growing reflective teachers/learners.

If you are reading this post you have already “dipped yours toes” into the blogging world. This is post is not to convince you on the benefits of blogging (or use the word reflect in place of blog). The question I am pondering today is how to get more teachers blogging (reflecting, sharing, connecting).

Last night on Twitter Phil McIntosh (@mistermcintosh) commented and I responded in kind:

Other people are also thinking about blogging, its impact and how to get teachers blogging:

And this got me thinking again, about something I have been thinking about consistently over the last several months and the quote from Will Richardson sums it up perfectly:

“Meaningful change ain’t gonna happen for our kids if we’re not willing to invest in it for ourselves first. At the heart, it’s not about schools . . . it’s about us.”

Others are having similar thoughts on the matter of teachers becoming learners:

How to grow reflective teachers, who are learners first? Do blogging and Twitter become everyday teacher tools like photocopiers and hole punches?

Do we introduce teachers to these tools in university? Do we mandate that teachers reflect? Do we give teachers in service on how to use these tools in a meaningful way?

And how about “older” teachers (I say that with the utmost respect as I am an old-ish teacher, with a young heart!), how do we get them to feel confident and willing to step out of their comfort zones?

From a session I ran at the Flipped Classroom Conference on Social Media I sensed a high level of curiosity on the both the topic of blogging and Twitter, but with that a high level of uncertainty on where to begin.

So…my plan of action for the fall to try to encourage more bloggers at our school:

1. Talk to my principal Leanne Zorn and run plan by her.

2. Offer 3 morning sessions (one in Sept, one in Oct. one in Nov) I find teachers are most energetic and ready to try new things in fall and this declines as dark and cold increases.

3. Send out email inviting interested teachers at OKM in late August. Keep group number small (maybe 5 teachers?).

4. Rough plan for 3 sessions:

Session 1 – Start a blog, look at some blogs talk about blogs. General, easy and low stress.

Session 2 – Write a blog or article review or make a collection, give feedback on one other blog.

Session 3 – Come with questions blog ideas, challenges and one blog you have read that sparked idea for you.

Other resources:

1. George Couros’  Why teachers should have Blogs

2. George Couros’ session on blogging Brief overview of blogs

Any ideas? Do you think reflection of some sort should be part of our every day activities? Is this a good plan or a big fat waste of time?

Why did you start blogging, what convinced you to try?

What would be an effective strategy for those who are resistant to change?

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11 thoughts on “Penny for your thoughts? OK… how about a quarter? Growing reflective teachers/learners.

  1. I tried to start blogging several times before in my teaching career, and I stopped all of them after a month or so. Something that I felt is that “I don’t have anything to blog about” and it just turned into the daily rants of teaching, which I didn’t want to put public. So, having a purpose in blogging is important. I feel like that keeps me focused. I can see hesitant teachers feeling the same way. Also, even though blogging is a great reflective tool and it shouldn’t matter if others are reading, it is very motivating to keep blogging when others are reading and commenting and it feels like a community. I think that’s where twitter comes in, so they probably need to come in as a pair.

    I know that didn’t answer all your questions, but those are my initial thoughts 🙂

    • I think your point is an important one in that you have decide on the purpose of your blog first and then from that from that develop a voice that is authentic to you. When I first started to blog I wanted to keep a record of my first year in the flipped classroom, but after getting started I found I had other things I wanted to say. But yes, at first I felt very shy about sharing, little did I realize that there was no one really paying attention at that point in time 🙂 Agree, Twitter really is the venue to share your blog with the world, maybe if teachers enjoy the blogging experience they will then want to share the blog to the Twittersphere ?

  2. Great questions to ask. I like your plan of action – I think focusing on a small group of teachers at first is an especially good idea – they will help and support one another and then help you get the rest of the teachers on board the following year.
    I started blogging to archive all of my resources, ideas, brainstorms, and reflections. I really don’t reflect as much as I should. Part of my hesitation to start a blog and write personal reflections about education is that there are already so many great blogger out there who can say it much more eloquently than I can. I am intimidated by this and don’t feel that I can contribute like they do. But, I got over this feeling and just went for it – I am so happy I did! Now I have a working catalogue of all my thoughts and resources to share with my colleagues.
    I think addressing this feeling of intimidation with your teachers is a good idea.

    • It is funny how we teachers are so easily intimidated hey? The blogs I have learnt the most though, are from other teachers who are opening up their classrooms and sharing their practices. I know what you mean, seeing amazing bloggers out there made me feel I had nothing to add to conversation. I think as teachers are our own worst critics and also used to working in isolation so being transparent is a new experience. I think that is a great point though, and will address the “intimidation factor” (as you say small group might offer more support). Thanks for sharing and commenting!

  3. Carolyn,
    I have asked myself the same questions and also am the only blogger in a staff of 35. I suspect that some of the same reasons that create reluctant teachers (resisting tech and 2.0 changes) are the same ones that explain why they do not blog or even read other teachers’ blogs. I think it has to be very, very easy (read = not intimidating), forgiving when they make a mistake (tall order given that it is a public forum) and have an obvious ROI (return on their investment of time and energy). If teachers see how blogging immediately relates to their work, they might step up. Otherwise, it is just one more thing to do on an ever growing list. I really like your game plan and will be looking forward to seeing what the results are.

    • Thanks Daryl for your insightful comments. I hear you on the hurdles, it is really a mind shift though that we teachers need to have; seeing ourselves as learners again and connecting back to our own learning. Then feeling the excitement and vitality return (high ROI) and reflection is no longer a chore on a list, but part of the daily practice that keeps one balanced and sane.
      But how to get them in the door and across the threshold of change? This is a question that I have struggled with. I know that until teachers want to change and embrace change for themselves very little transformation happens within the classroom. This is the problem with many top down approaches to reform. From my point of view when teachers see for themselves the value of personal change and choose that for themselves, then we will have real and sustainable change within the system.
      So in the meantime, blogging might be a step closer for some, maybe not, but we got to try right?

  4. I feel like at the end of the day many teachers sit down and take the time to reflect how their lessons went, what needed to be differentiated and what they plan to do to expand the next day. Blogging is just one way to get YOUR ideas as a teacher out to others and vice versa! It’s a great collaboration tool and it lets you return to your steps year after year, instead of rifling through papers that you will never find when you need to. I started my blog when I started college, so it didn’t really have any other use other than to keep me connected with my family members back home. However, when I graduate in a year I plan to start one for my classroom, as a way to communicate with parents, students and other teachers. I am fully in support of blogging! I think it also helps being from the generation that I am!

    • Yes, agree with you, I have always reflected on my day, week, or lesson as a teacher, it seems almost impossible not to (especially when you have a bad day 😦 ).
      And yes your right, to a certain extent blogging is a generational thing. But how to bridge the gap between old and new, how to connect teachers beyond the reflection on the way home in the car? How to make teachers feel that it is OK to admit to others “Yeah today was a really hard day and I don’t know how to make it better, I need your help”. For me the power of being connected to people beyond the walls of my classroom and school has made the reflection that much more useful. Moreover I have learnt more in one year reading other teachers blogs, than in ten years of Pro-D. So how to let others “know” the power in this practice? I will let you know how my plan goes in the fall 🙂
      Thanks for the comment and your support.

  5. I feel like at the end of the day many teachers sit down and take the time to reflect how their lessons went, what needed to be differentiated and what they plan to do to expand the next day. Blogging is just one way to get YOUR ideas as a teacher out to others and vice versa! It’s a great collaboration tool and it lets you return to your steps year after year, instead of rifling through papers that you will never find when you need to. I started my blog when I started college, so it didn’t really have any other use other than to keep me connected with my family members back home. However, when I graduate in a year I plan to start one for my classroom, as a way to communicate with parents, students and other teachers. I am fully in support of blogging! I think it also helps being from the generation that I am!

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