Dooced (V) to lose one’s job because of one’s website.
One of the most famous bloggers on the internet, Heather Armstrong, spawned a new word after she was fired in 2002 because she wrote satirical accounts of her experiences at work on her blog dooce.com. More recently a teacher in Philadelphia was dismissed after a post on her personal blog about a student’s performance triggered a dispute with the students’ parents and the administration.
The general feeling when it comes to writing about your job is DON’T WRITE ABOUT WORK ON THE INTERNET.
Sharing your thoughts with the outside world doesn’t come without risks. There’s a certain amount of vulnerability in knowing that anyone; potential employers, lecturers, parents not to mention students, could read your thoughts.
The risk that someone could take umbrage to with your online presence should be enough a reason to put most student teachers off blogging. Your career could potentially be over before it started. That’s part of the reason that I have decided to blog under a pseudonym.
Then there is an issue of finding the time. Between assignments, lesson planning and classroom experience teacher education programmes place huge demands on students’ time.
However here are six reasons why I think blogging is a useful tool for student teachers.
1. Blogging aids reflection
Thinking about what you did well and what you could do better in the classroom is integral part of becoming a teacher. Blogging is a great way for you to reflect either by reading the blogs of others, or by researching and thinking about posts of your own.
The best part about blogging is that it has an almost-immediate feedback loop. That means that when you have an idea that needs improving, you should hear about it quickly, and you can then reconsider it. When you have a good idea, you’ll hear about it; when you have an incomplete idea, and some others chip in with suggestions, you’ll get a better-formed idea.
3. You need to improve your writing
Whether you are writing reports, items for school newsletters or a letter about an upcoming field trip, teachers need to have excellent written communication skills. In order to write clear, good prose you will need practice. Blogging will help you get that practice.
4. Expanding your professional network
Participating in the blogging process (reading, commenting and hopefully writing) enables student teachers to connect to with ideas we otherwise wouldn’t find and to people we’d never meet. New Zealand interface magazine has a list of New Zealand-based teacher bloggers but more importantly there’s a global network of educational bloggers out there to enhance our perspectives.
5. You have your very own Pensieve
Dumbledore had a Pensieve to store his important memories in for future use. Us muggles aren’t so lucky. However the archives of your blog are a digital catalogue of your thoughts. Instead of flicking through pages of notes or desperately trying to remember some idea from a few months earlier you can google your own blog in search of something you’ve written before – if you are lucky, it will be because you want to share your idea with others.
6. Expanding our collective knowledge
At the risk of being accused of having delusions of grandeur, blogging contributes to humanity’s understanding of itself. Your blog gives prospective students, current students, university officials, other teachers, parents or members of the public a window into your world which is unique but also one in transition. This makes for interesting blogging material.
What are some advantages to student teachers blogging? What are some of the risks?