I have noticed two interesting trends in educational blogging. First, most of the teacher bloggers I’ve come across are new teachers with less than three years experience. Second, educator blogs tend to be complain fests in the manner that my old teachers’ lounge was. Before you get upset with me, let me explain that I don’t think there’s anything wrong with either trend, necessarily. I just think educational blogging could be more.
It may be a cliché, but in my experience, that doesn’t make it less true: new teachers tend to have the most enthusiasm and the desire to try the newest thing. Therefore, it makes sense that many of our veteran teachers have not started blogging. I don’t mean to generalize, but most of the long-term veteran teachers I’ve worked with are not crazy about integrating technology and use it as little as possible. Many of them balked at Georgia’s requirement to be proficient in technology in order to re-certify. Computer gradebooks and e-mail were high on the complaint list, too. What’s the point of Power Point? I suppose I might feel the same way if I had been teaching very well, thank you very much, for 25 years without Power Point. I would indeed be very suprised to find that many of these types of teachers even know what a blog is, much less are open to the possibilities of blogging for students and teachers.
I have worked in several schools in which discussion in the teachers’ lounge dengerated quickly and often into the realm of complaining about our students’ discipline and the lack of support by administration. This sort of discussion has now become fodder for many teacher blogs on the Internet. In these blogs, teachers tend to take on an air of the soldier in the trenches — the commanding officers are clueless; we’re on our own, and it’s survival of the fittest. Frankly, it is depressing. I know, I know it is the reality in a lot of schools. I have taught in those schools. I know what it is like to drive to work and cry the whole way because I didn’t want to be there. I know what it is like to want to scrap teaching altogether. I understand the need for support from other teachers. That’s why we need to vent. When I read your blogs, I empathize. Last year, I climbed over the fence. I never thought I’d teach in private schools. I had been told by a non-authority who didn’t know much about it that the pay was awful. I took a job in a private school because I couldn’t find one in a public school. My pay and benefits did not decrease. The happiness I feel each day when I’m going to work cannot compete with my experiences in public school. I am excited to be teaching again. I am rejuvenated. I don’t have discipline issues. I have taught for two years at my school and not given a single detention. I am not advocating jumping ship. You all don’t have to make the same decision I did. But frankly, there are opportunities out there. You can teach somewhere that doesn’t make you miserable every day you go to work.
After having written this, I can’t help but feel I’ve just made the lot of you angry with me. So be it. My bit on technology expressed my concern over integration of new teaching methods. I would love to hear about the ideas of veteran teachers. Can you imagine how much younger teachers can learn about methods, ideas that worked, approaches to material? My bit about complaint fests expressed my concern over your happiness. May you find a place to be happy, because we need you. We don’t want to lose you as an educator.