English teachers who blog
I’ve just come home from the AATE 2012 national conference in Sydney. It was exceptionally energising to spend two whole days and nights talking face-to-face with people in my PLN, as well as getting to know my colleagues better and meet new people.
One of the sessions that I spoke in was a panel discussion on being a teacher that blogs. Here is a piccie of me with the other panellists @Darcy1968 and @BiancaH80 with our chair @melanne_k:
Why we need more voices online
There are so many things I would love to write a blog post about, based on ideas I heard or conversations I had at the AATE conference. BUT – I know I won’t get a chance to write about them all! So, the first reason that more teachers need to blog is to literally get more of these ideas recorded:
- Andrew Burn outlined a ‘3Cs’ model of media literacy – Cultural, Critical, Creative. How does this differ to other models of literacy (e.g. Green’s 3D model, Luke & Freebody’s 4 Resources model)?
- Bianca’s presentation on Project Based Learning emphasised the role of assessment. I have also found this to be very important, have others?
- Gillian Whitlock from UQ presented some really interesting ideas about humanitarian perspectives on literature and children’s writing. She showed refugee writing from Australia and artwork that had been created to memorialise the refugee journey. Definitely someone in Queensland to talk to or hear from again!
- The hashtag #5bells was used pretty successfully as a conference backchannel, I thought! What can we learn from this and how can we improve the experience for 2013 in Brisbane?
- Vivian (@vivimat78) did us all a big favour by collecting many of the #5bells tweets via storify…this is super helpful and valued, as hashtags are no longer searchable, after a time period, and we don’t want to lose all that great sharing!
- Vivian also coordinates the #ozengchat twitter chat and edmodo group. What relationship might exist in the future between AATE and #ozengchat? How can/do they support each other?
- We got to say so much to each other in real life (IRL)! Talking uses up soooo many characters! Face-to-face conversations are fun 🙂
- Hip Hop – OMG Adam Bradley was convincing. All the copies of his ‘anthology’ book sold out, and so many people left the keynote ready to exchange their cardigans for hoodies… In response I’ve started a Twitter list: trust-me-i-m-cool for teachers looking for Aussie Hip Hop links. One love!
- I found the closing keynote by Bill Green and Jane Mills to be quite problematic. I understand their point to be that linguistic frameworks have taken over the analysis of ‘the visual’, and that ‘cinephiles’ understand film in a much more ‘visceral’ way. I don’t agree. I think this contrast is weird, given the way I cry like a baby when reading some books, and (I believe) can successfully understand the moving image, thank-you-very-much. I usually love Bill’s stuff, but would rather have heard about his theories on ‘spatial literacy’ than be told English teachers are inadequate at teaching film…wrong crowd for that idea bill and jane, wrong crowd indeed.
I’m sure there is more, but these are the big ideas that I would ideally tackle in the next couple of months. Who will help me? (Will it be you?)
Don’t do it for me, do it for you!
In the panel that we did, quite a few people wanted to talk about how to get more people commenting on their posts. This is a good question, and our suggestions included:
- Comment on other people’s posts so that they come and visit your blog
- Let people know you have written a post by putting the URL up on Twitter (you’ll need an account)
- Use categories and tags wisely to help search engines find your post
However, I really do believe in the power of reflective writing for learning, and I encourage any new blogger to write posts for themselves as much as for an imaginary audience. It’s OK to talk to yourself here!
Think about it – how many times have you tried to convince a student to do a piece of reflective writing for homework, because you know the benefits it will have for their learning? Writing up your experiences on a blog can have the same benefit for you! The mere process of deciding “what will I publish information about this time?” will put you more in touch with the successes and obstacles in your practice, I really do believe this.
So that’s the second big reason. Start a blog for yourself, because if you haven’t yet, then I think you need to.
If you think you “can’t find time to write anything, ever”, then making time to do this will hopefully help you see ways to make time for other things too. And don’t worry – the blogging police aren’t going to arrest you if you don’t add anything for 3 months!
And because all good things come in threes…
The third reason why more English teachers should start a blog is because teachers who blog and share their resources are usually friendly, generous and just plain fun to hang out with.
And the more we share our work and resources, hopefully the more time we can put back in to spending quality time with our students, friends and families x
#1 by johncoyote on October 7, 2012 - 4:20 pm
I agree with your thoughts. Teachers are good examples and deal with our children daily. The best bloggers and writers are in the field of education. Good to express the views from the people showing our children the way to think and live.
#2 by Cassandra Menne on October 7, 2012 - 4:21 pm
Being relatively new to blogging, I realise that a blog is a good way to just “express myself” … all those thoughts that I have that never get past my brain now have a place to reside … whether someone reads it …or not …. it is there … perhaps in a hundred years or so, someone will think – what an innovative thinker i was …OR not!!
#3 by kmcg2375 on October 7, 2012 - 11:44 pm
Thanks for the comment 🙂
I also say this to people who are shy about public blogging – if in doubt, start blogging under a fake name – you can always change it back to your real name later (once you’re famous!)
#4 by @malynmawby on October 7, 2012 - 6:36 pm
I’m glad you’re encouraging more teachers to blog. And your reasons are very good and true – they are for me at least – as echoed in this post Reader, you are important to me of how I’ve started with reason 1 on through 3 – not to say I’m necessarily ‘fun to be with’ (hope that I can be) but that we share our resources….and even build it together.
And I actually did start with just lurking, then commenting and finally blogging. ’tis a journey we’re on and it’s great that our stories entwine.
#5 by kmcg2375 on October 7, 2012 - 11:42 pm
This image of our entwining journeys is very powerful – I like it! Thanks for the link to that post. I think you are fun to be with, you playful person, you!
You are right, there is also an element of ‘building this together’, and many people who end up blogging around each other do so because they hold similar philosophies, don’t you think?
#6 by Anne Rochford on October 7, 2012 - 8:47 pm
Hi Kelli, it sounds like the conference was powerful PL. I agree more teachers should blog just like more teachers should write – it is what we learn through the process that makes us better teachers.
#7 by TroyMartin on October 8, 2012 - 8:30 am
Of course, you are right!
#8 by Denise Lombardo on October 9, 2012 - 8:23 pm
Thanks for sharing this Kelli! I sure missed a great conference, and would have loved to hear your preso. I’ve only just started blogging as well – and need to do more just reflecting as I worry too much about what is “good” to publish – when really, I should just think online about my practice and share. ta!
#9 by kmcg2375 on October 11, 2012 - 3:07 pm
Thanks Denise! Yep, my message is definitely to just jump in and do it without worrying about getting it ‘right’. I think the only people who need to worry about sticking to a certain format or style are people trying to make money from blogging – the rest of us are free to use it as a scrapbook/noticeboard/logbook/process diary etc.
If you’d like to see the 5 slides I prepared for the panel session, here they are: http://www.slideshare.net/kellimcgraw/english-teachers-who-blog
#10 by Sam Boswell on October 9, 2012 - 8:31 pm
Appreciate the insights, links & sense of connectivity you mainline; inspiring, heady stuff!
#11 by Sara Verge on October 9, 2012 - 8:49 pm
Hi Kelli. I loved the blogging panel and was tempted to promise to start a blog (and not just to get Darcy’s bottle of wine). It’s just that as a first-year-out teacher I’m up late every night anyway, preparing and marking. If I add blogging to the mix, will I get any sleep at all? Maybe next year, when I’ll be sooooo much better and quicker at this teaching thing…
I agree with your comments on the closing keynote – it was the only low point in the conference for me.
#12 by kmcg2375 on November 27, 2012 - 10:36 am
Cheers Sara – quite a few people seem to have found that closing keynote a bit ‘random’, given the very high relevance of everything else at the conference. Nevertheless, food for though I suppose!
In terms of worrying if you’ll burn out by taking too much on, I think this is an important question to raise. One thing I would say is that it is possible to begin a blog and keep it very low maintenance; my experience, and I’ve heard this from others, was that I felt the need to post frequently and get comments happening on my blog asap, and tbh that did run me down. But you don’t need to do this straight away.
If you’re still tempted to put a toe in the water but want to give yourself some anti-burnout barriers, I recommend creating a wordpress blog and…
– popping a couple of links in your blogroll
– make two categories, like ‘school’ and ‘personal’, don’t worry about tags yet
– make one page called ‘About’ with a blurb about who you are
– and them aim to post just 2-3 times in your first year.
*Bonus* for you – this way, in a few years time, you’ll be able to say ‘I’ve been blogging since…’ and it’ll be an earlier date than otherwise, but without so much stress 😉
#13 by dba on October 11, 2012 - 7:56 pm
Nice blog. I totally agree with your thoughts.
#14 by Nicole Feledy on November 10, 2012 - 11:12 am
YES! As an English teacher I have found blogging to be an incredible powerful tool. It offers a clear path for ‘walking the talk’. As you mention, we encourage our students to reflect upon their learning through writing and, when we demonstrate we are willing to do the same, we authenticate the process. I also wrote about the magic of blogging 2 years ago http://isthismystory.com/2010/07/why-blog/ and it is fantastic to see increasing numbers of teachers recognising its benefits.
However, beyond this ‘practical benefit’ the intrinsic benefit of blogging extends much further. It is simultaneously a way to search inside ourself while reaching out to others. It was blogging that helped me develop the courage to self publish my book, Is This MyStory; I wanted to help larger numbers of teenagers discover their authentic voice. Thanks for highlighting ‘Why Blog”
#15 by kmcg2375 on November 27, 2012 - 11:15 am
That’s an interesting site and blog Nicole 🙂
I think teenagers can be reluctant to share their voice online where ‘anyone’ can read it – showing them how to protect their privacy really liberates some to start writing. Wish I had some good teen examples to show – do you?
#16 by Nicole Feledy on November 28, 2012 - 4:08 pm
Yes, it can be daunting to share writing but I encouraged my students to be courageous and take confidence from the fact that offering their ideas up for public viewing gives them a legitamate, ‘real world’ reason to edit. It is also helpful that comments need to be ‘approved’ before they are accepted. This means a student has control over what is written on their site.
Here are a couple by ex-students http://billbobadger.wordpress.com/ & http://mellyh15.wordpress.com/
I hope you find them as inspiring as I did. 🙂
#17 by Collective Nouns List on November 26, 2016 - 8:02 am
Hi Kelli –
English teachers are obviously very qualified to write well.
I hope your post will inspire many to do what you are already doing.