Transparency and Reassurance

Bill Genereux has an interesting post about what he calls “The True Digital Divide.”  He discusses in detail something I touched on in my presentation at GCTE.  If we truly want students to engage with the technology and use the Web 2.0 tools available to them, we have to be leaders.  We have to use the tools ourselves.  If we want students to blog, we should be blogging.  I think educators blogging could be a very positive form of transparency.  In an age when people make a lot of assumptions about what is or is not happening in classrooms, often I think the teachers’ voices are missing, and blogging can be a positive platform to share what we are thinking and learning and doing.  On the other hand, I think it has become for many teachers who blog a platform to complain.  No doubt teaching is hard work, and sometimes it feels good to vent.  I personally think blogging is a terrible platform for complaining.  First, I don’t think most of us like to read it.  Second, it’s just not wise; Regnef High School anyone?  I am very interesting in posts and conversations that make me think.  So yes, we need to be using the tools, for as Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach notes, “Technology will never replace teachers. However, teachers who know how to use technology effectively to help their students connect and collaborate together online will replace those who do not.”  And of course, Alfie Kohn reminds us that sticking techy labels on tired or misguided practices isn’t the answer either.  Still, I think we’re moving into a positive direction when parents and students (as well as other teachers) can gain insight into what teachers are thinking and doing.  I have actually noticed something interesting: students joke about Googling me and finding lots of links.  I admit it’s true that I am in a lot of places online.  But I encourage them to read it and tell me what they think.  And when they do, they share their observations.  It can be a good thing when students, parents, and colleagues get a glimpse into a teacher’s mind and like what they see.  Transparency can foster reassurance.

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6 thoughts on “Transparency and Reassurance

  1. I never really considered the transparency aspect of blogging, but of course it exists. When I write about the hows and whys of what I do in the classroom, it is intended for other teachers who may happen upon it, and for myself that I may refer back to it. However, the methods to my madness are also revealed to my students and their parent should they happen to take the time to read what I post. How interesting.

    And I agree with you that blogs aren't the best venue for voicing complaints. Personally, I'd rather read from teachers who can teach and inspire me than those who make me want to find a new profession.

    • Bill, I totally agree with your last sentence. I have had to make the hard decision to stop reading blogs like that even if the bloggers themselves are folks I like and who have been supportive of me. It's just too depressing!

      I think my blog started out as a means of sharing my ideas and thoughts with other teachers, but once I realized that students and some parents were reading it, it made me think about blogging in a whole new light. I, for one, would like to have a glimpse into the thinking of my children's teachers.

  2. Does your school allow you to create technology assignments for students in school, or do they have to do those things from home? For example, with the blogging, do your students get to do it from school? My district is too restrictive and doesn't really allow for technology to be used. They say it, but they don't back it up with updated computers, movie cameras, software, etc.

    • Yes, Don. I have to say that I am very proud of my school with regards to blocking. Facebook and MySpace are blocked. If something is blocked, all I need to do is ask our IT department to unblock it, and they do. The teachers at our school are trusted to use technology wisely, and we do. We could blog from school or home. Students have the use of cameras, computers, software, and the like to do whatever we would need to do with blogging. I wish wholeheartedly that all schools embraced the philosophy that we should be teaching kids to use these tools responsibly instead of blocking them. I heard someone say it recently, and man, I can't remember who, and I wish I could because it's good: What exactly are we protecting kids from? Stuff they're going to go look at as soon as 3:00 rolls around? Wouldn't it be better to help students learn how to use YouTube for educational purposes instead of blocking it, for example? There's a lot of great stuff on YouTube, and we should be using it. Same goes for just about every other Web 2.0 tool I can think of.

  3. I've been blogging for three years, but I was forced to go private three months ago, because the last school district I worked for decided to go on a witch hunt–and I was their target. I still blog, and will continue to do so. It's is a powerful tool for reflection and gathering feedback from colleagues. Unfortunately, not everyone in the world has access to my blog anymore.

    • It's a real shame that so many schools and districts don't view blogging as a positive thing. Of course, plenty of teachers who have chosen to be negative have certainly contributed to their idea that blogging is a bad thing for their teachers to do. It's a shame. I'm sorry to hear about what happened to you.

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