Note: This post is part of Scott McLeod’s annual Digital Leadership Day (#leadershipday14) that he celebrates on the anniversary of this blog. To learn more, visit his blog Dangerously Irrelevant.
Sometimes being a classroom teacher who blogs feels a bit like being a rebel. I’m not normally known for my rebellious behavior, but when I write openly about the problems that I see in education I sometimes feel like I’m shaking my first at the same people that control my long-term employment. Of course, I try to be careful to draw a clear line between the problems and the people, but I have to admit to occasionally clicking the Publish button with some trepidation.
While I would love for my colleagues and my (amazing) principal to read what I craft and share in this space, I get nervous about mixing my “day job” and my blogging work. I don’t want others to be offended, but I also fear the image of being arrogant and judgmental about the profession. That conflict motivates some to use pseudonyms when they blog, which I can certainly understand even I don’t choose to hide my own identity.
When I consider this apprehension about inviting the professionals in my building to read Scripted Spontaneity, I feel a little guilty. I mean, after all, I’ve been known to preach about the importance of students publishing online (blogging, podcasting, etc.) as both a motivational force and a critical one. How hypocritical am I to shy away from that same criticism? If I think that writing for the web is a powerful experience for 14-year-olds, why don’t I feel the same way about 38-year-olds?
And that is when it occurs to me that my thinking and my writing need the feedback that comes from being read and judged by those I see every day. My work online would be so much better if I knew that my principal read what I choose to write about here. Motivated by either a fear of embarrassment or a desire to impress (maybe both?), I know that my blogging would benefit from the pushback that I could get from those who actually see me teach.
Perhaps the most powerful feedback could come from my principal. She is an experienced and wise educator who inspires those around her to do better for their students. I respect her and admire her greatly. I can only imagine the conversations that we could have around the issues that I write about on Scripted Spontaneity.
Moreover, I think that reading my blog would benefit her. Staying in touch with the needs and concerns of classroom teachers is important to her, but it must be difficult to do. What if teachers (or groups of teachers, PLTs, departments) blogged about what they care about? Wouldn’t both teachers and administrations gain value from a public interaction around the issues that matter?
For that matter, why shouldn’t my writing here be a part of my state-mandated Professional Development Plan? As many have said before (and I mentioned previously), the criticism that I receive about my blogging has affected my teaching in countless ways. I have no doubt that maintaining this blog has developed me more as a professional educator than 90% of the PD that has been force-fed to me and my colleagues.
It’s clear to me that administrators who read the blogs of their teachers are better informed and more aware of the needs/dreams/ideas/challenges of those whom they supervise. And it would not surprise me if a rise in the number of principals who read teachers blogs led to an increase in the number of teachers willing to join the edublogosphere. And that’s just plain good for education.
So, why don’t more principals read their teachers’ blogs? Why don’t more principals blog?