Looking Forward to 2014
I spend a lot of time on this blog reflecting on my teaching and what happens in and around my classroom. That makes sense, since this is, primarily, a blog about what happens in and around my classroom. But I also spend a lot of time off the blog reflecting on my personal expectations for Adventures in Teaching Fourth. I don’t write about this nearly as much, but today I will make an exception because a) it is December 31, b) I just reviewed my official WordPress Annual Report and c) it is early in the morning and my herbal tea is still steeping, so I don’t have much else to do right now.
I suppose that before I get into what I expect of this blog, I should review my stated purpose for blogging. This can be found in my blogging manifesto (which I have recently reviewed and updated for the fourth time), borrowed and adapted from an online colleague’s blog, that can be found in the upper right-hand corner of the page. I won’t copy it all here, but the section on my rights and responsibilities is particularly relevant to this topic:
As an educator who chooses to blog, I have the following rights:
- I have the right to use my blog to reflect on my teaching journey, honestly and openly.
- I have the right to collaborate with educators from all over the world.
- I have the right to wonder what is best practice, debate education policies/practices/teaching styles, and question what is not working within our system in general and my classroom specifically.
- I have the right to use my blog to process a difficult day, as long as I stay within the limits of the responsibilities listed below.
As an education blogger, I have the following responsibilities:
- I will never forget the purpose for why I’m blogging.
- I will always write about my students in such a manner that if parents found this blog they would know that I respect every aspect of their child’s learning.
- I will always write about my co-workers, including all members of the faculty and staff of the buildings in which I work, in a way that reflects their strengths.
- I will not write anything that will prevent anyone, especially myself and my colleagues, from doing his or her job.
By acknowledging these rights and responsibilities, I will be better able to:
- Communicate with educators, parents, and others from all over the world
- Become more reflective in my teaching
- Improve my teaching practices to best benefit my students
- Find the silver linings inside the most frustrating of days
- Keep a sense of humor, which, in turn, allows me to be a stronger teacher who comes back to work day after day inspired, energized, and ready for a challenge.
To summarise all of those bullet points, my purpose in blogging about teaching is to reflect on what I am doing in a way that is positive, productive, and helpful. I often use an acronym to help my students quickly reflect before they say or do anything. I thought I’d shared this before, but I can’t find it, so I am guessing I never did. It is fairly simple: THINK! Ask yourself the following questions:
Likewise as a teacher, I need to THINK before I post anything online, especially if it is about students, parents, colleagues, or administrators! What this means in practice is that if there is a part of my day that is frustrating, I can still write about it, but I can do so in a way that will help us process what worked well, what didn’t, and what we can do better the next day.
I also use my blog as another way to communicate with parents, teachers, and members of the community. I include my URL on every newsletter I send home, it is linked by my name on my school’s website, and links are shared publicly through a variety of social networking services, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and Tumblr. (And yes, that is just another of the many reasons that I will NEVER use the name of a student on my blog and I will ONLY use the name of colleagues or other adults with explicit permission.)
So, getting back to that original question, what do I expect for Adventures of Teaching Fourth in 2014?
I’m not really sure.
I know I want to continue what I have been doing: blog each day I am with students to share at least one highlight of the day. Think about what I am doing and why I am doing it. Invite others to read and share these posts. Keep track of the books I have been reading, particularly those that relate to my work, regardless of genre.
I also know what I would love to see happen: more comments. I know that I have on average 40 unique visitors to my blog each day, but I have no idea who these people are or why they are coming. I would be delighted to see more parents visiting and leaving brief comments, anonymous or not, to let me know they are reading and discussing with their children; for teachers, administrators, and other interested parties to share their thoughts; for suggestions on what I can do better in teaching and/or on topics to write about in the future. But I also have to be completely honest here: if I did not have a single visitor to my blog, I would continue to write. I am doing this primarily for me, to keep track of what I am doing. I share it with others because it is a medium I enjoy using and believe that others enjoy, as well.
The coming year is going to be a great one! Thank you, one and all, for being a part of my journey. I look forward to continuing to reflect on my own adventures!