Maybe. Does connecting with other teachers matter? Absolutely, and that’s one reason why blogging is important. There are many teacher blogs in the blogosphere right now: Ms. Frizzle, Cool Cat Teacher blog, The Education Wonks, Hip Teacher, Right on the Left Coast, Computer Science Teacher, and Tom’s 2 cents to name a few. Check out my blogroll for many others. And there is room for many, many more. Blogging not only connects us, it gives us an opportunity to vent a little, or a lot. If you are a regular reader of this blog then you know that sometimes I just rant, and it feels great. Teachers are human beings but we are expected to be superhuman and that’s just crazy. I believe that what we do makes us super-heroes, but not superhuman. So taking some time weekly, or even daily to let it all out is good for the soul and will make you a better teacher.
I’ve been writing regularly now for a few months. I am nutty about checking my traffic and comments. Sometimes I get discouraged that more people don’t read my entries (maybe that’s a good thing) but then I usually receive a very complimentary comment, or find out that some good has come from the time I have spent sharing, or someone has received encouragement to continue on. I don’t know if you can tell this, but most of my motivation for writing is to keep me teaching in the classroom. Like you, I think of quitting all the time. Not that I don’t love teaching, or working with kids, but the temptation is always there to hang it up and pursue a profession that pays a little more, offers a little more prestige, or isn’t quite so draining of my energy. By writing I reassure myself that what I am doing is worthwhile, and that my time spent not only make a difference, but also actually changes and improves other people’s lives.
We teachers are like that. I believe that most of us are driven by a desire to improve the world we live in one student at a time. Sure, some of us teach for the great vacation time, or so-called early dismissals, but I don’t think that anyone can survive in teaching without believing that somehow all the personal sacrifice is not vanity. Maybe it is sometimes, but somebody has to take on the responsibility of educating the young, why not me? I’ve thought about a career in heavy machine operation. Seriously. I own an old Ford tractor and I absolutely love tooling around the property on it. I was surprised to find out that holding a master’s degree and operating heavy machinery is not that uncommon. Apparently other former teachers have found relief behind the wheel of a skip-loader or behind the controls of a bulldozer. Who knew? But at the end of a hard day of ditch digging or road leveling I don’t think I’d drive home with the same sense of satisfaction and the comfort of knowing that I did more in that day then simply perform an assigned task.
Back to blogging. You should start your own blog. Hugh Hewitt wrote a great book called Blog last year that is worth a read. When I first got the crazy notion to start writing a blog I sent him an email with the first few entries asking if he thought my idea to write would find an audience. He did, and it has. According to my stat counter, teachers from all over the world are reading and sharing these articles, or short essays, or blog entries, (I don’t know what to call them really). They’re long, I know, but at about 1000 words each they’re at a length that is comfortable for me to communicate what I’m thinking about. You’re blog entries need not be so verbose. Starting a blog is super easy. I use blogger.com, but there are many others, and most services and sites are free. I’m always suspecting of those who want to charge, but if you feel more comfortable with a fee site, go for it. If you do start blogging shoot me an email and I’ll list you on my blog roll.
You should blog and share your teaching experience with other teachers including what you know works for you in and your kids in your classroom. You might think that “everybody does that,” or, “it’s so obvious,” but that’s only true for you. Most of us can’t go into our colleagues’ classrooms and observing them teaching. We don’t have time to take notes, share successes, collaborate, or just plain chat during our regular workday. I teach six periods (by choice) so I don’t even get a conference period to work with my cohorts. Some schools are doing a great job with banking time and block schedules giving teachers more time to join forces. But mostly we are still a consortium of individuals who spend our days grinding away in our own little worlds with limited adult contact. Teachers need to get out more, or at least out on the Internet more. That’s where blogging becomes a very effective tool for replacing the collaborative time we lose while we’re actually working.
Blogging won’t solve the world’s educational problems, but it will make those of us who take the time to take advantage of the technology better teachers, and that’s better for the world or education. If you don’t feel like you’re ready to start your own blog, then at least become an active commenter on the blogs you read now. Some of my best ideas for writing have come from either the comments left on this blog, or emails that I have received from regular readers. Although it sometimes feels like we are alone in our endeavor to teach the young, like we will never have a decent adult conversation at work again, and that our non-teacher spouses will never understand why we are so exhausted every night, take heart. We have blogs and blogging to join us as a global community of educators to share resources, to voice our concerns, or to just share amusing experiences. Like that time I…
Please post your comments below.