Sunday, April 6, 2008

Part 2 - Blogging as Professional Development for Teachers

A way to achieve common goals

Will Richardson’s post Blogs For Professional Development on his Weblogg-ed site gives an example of how blogs and blogging are becoming part of the professional development scaffolding for educators.

His reference point comes from “The Fischbowl” which is the work of Karl Fisch. Fisch discusses how blogging has become the pathway to reach the common goals set by his staff: “to improve teacher and student use of technology, to achieve curricular goals, to help transform our school to a more student-centered, constructivist approach, and to prepare our students to succeed in the21st century.”

Fisch sees blogging as a way have teachers “push” their thinking and make sure they are not only doing the best job they can, but that what they are doing truly aligns with their beliefs. Blogging provides a place to openly discuss challenges facing their students, and allows teachers to work together to achieve their common goals.

From this viewpoint, blogging has become another form of a professional learning community for educators.

Subscribing to other peoples’ brains

Edublogging @ Macworld describes itself as a “workshop blog to learn more about blogging in educational settings.” As I was researching for this topic, I discovered a blogging discussion which perfectly illustrated the networking aspect this web 2.0 tool, which is an essential component of professional development.

The question posed for workshop participants asked: “How has blogging impacted your professional development?” These are a few of the responses:

* What’s your most powerful/memorable experience that’s resulted from blogging? A complete stranger becoming my blogging mentor and helping me build a better site (kolson29)

* I use it to keep tabs on what smart people are thinking. I call it, “subscribing to other peoples’ brains (SkyDaddy)

* I was hooked by the idea of being able to reflect regularly on what I was discovering about Web 2.0 for schools and libraries, by being able to share information, and by being able to help develop social networks between bloggers (heyjude)

* social network blogging… offers a way to deliver a message to like-minded individuals, while keeping tabs on professionals with similar interests (Lucy Gray)

Another great example of how blogging is related to the professional development of teachers can be seen at the So You Want to Teach site: 8 Ways Blogging Makes Me A Better Teacher.

Painting Ourselves into the Picture

Konrad Glogowski’s blog The Embedded Practitioner uses the painter Caravaggio to draw parallels between his painting and the role of the teacher in the blogging community. Caravaggio is well-known for inserting his self-portrait, inserting himself, so to speak, into his paintings. Similarly, Glogowski feels that a teacher in a blogging community should enter the context that gives rise to his or her work. Glogowski states that “we can gain a better understanding of our classrooms-as-communities if we immerse ourselves in them.”

Professional development in the networked world requires that we look closely not only at what we do as educators but also at how we are embedded in educational contexts. Much like Caravaggio, we have to narrate ourselves into existence through participation in our classrooms in a way that is non-authoritarian, readerly, and conversational.

By engaging in reflective blogging with our students, we are participating in both their learning journeys, as well as our own.

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