Does Blogging Empower Teachers?

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Late in 2012, I decided I’d start writing a local history blog. Although, having been an English teacher for the last 19 years, this possibly wasn’t the most logical choice. I did write one history post, but it wasn’t long before I realised that I had far more to say about issues that were happening In the world of education.

In order to provide myself with a bit of anonymity, I removed my real name from my Twitter account and drafted an article about the GCSE exam boundaries. The article was published in an online political magazine, and I was delighted.

Over the next few months, I had several articles published online. However, because they were featured in a general politics mag, the audience for these was sometimes very small. So in July last year, I decided to set up my own blog site. Thanks to the support of several prominent teachers, including Tom Bennett, who publicised a couple of my posts, and Andrew Old, who re-blogged some on his education blog site The Echo Chamber I had soon developed more of a readership than I ever dreamed possible.

I wrote about contentious issues – issues that were often having a direct effect on me, confounding things that happened in the course of my day to day teaching. I also shared Ofsted anomalies and discussed how the Ofsted culture permeates schools. I wrote about behaviour; the labelling culture; the removal (or not) of national curriculum levels; assessment and lesson observations and PRP. All quite positively received. Blogging had given me a voice.

My most popular post by a long way was what I call my ‘primal scream’ post It was written in the early hours of the morning after a fairly distressing experience at work via a learning walk.

It was the response to this frustrated outpouring of grief that demonstrated to me the true power of blogging. I had no reason to feel alone with all this, because I clearly wasn’t alone with all this. The level of support on social media was incredible. It wasn’t just classroom teachers, either.

And education bloggers are being listened to by the people at the very top of the education chain, too. Several groups of bloggers have now been to visit both Ofsted HQ and also the DfE. The top people at these institutions are clearly well aware of the influence of blogs. A cynic might suggest that they are trying to keep bloggers on-side and garner a bit of PR-style positive publicity. Either way, if the end result is the views of chalkface teachers being listened to, then this can only be a good thing. In addition to this, groups of bloggers regularly meet up with each other at social occasions. Then there are the courses delivered, the conferences organised and attended, and the books that are written and published – all as a direct result of teacher voices sharing their views and experiences through blogs.

If all of the above wasn’t empowering enough, I must also make mention of the professional development aspect. Many generous bloggers regularly share elements of good practice and resources via their blogs. I only wish such a wealth of real-life, reading matter had existed when I first started teaching. As it is, even now, I frequently incorporate teaching ideas I’ve gleaned from blogs into my lessons. Thus blogging has the power to improve and enhance teaching practice itself. As fellow-blogger @WatsEd said

“Reading the thoughts of other professionals is one of the best ways to gain an insight into what is happening everywhere else… it has taught me that I didn’t realise how little I knew! Well, now I am working to rectify that.”

I think that’s an excellent conclusion. Seconded.

 

 

*This blog was originally written for http://www.innovatemyschool.com

Please follow me on Twitter: @cazzypot

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6 Responses to Does Blogging Empower Teachers?

  1. Ian Lynch says:

    Blogging is an enhancement of freedom of speech. If internet has done one good thing it is to make it possible for grass roots opinion to matter. Keep up the good work.

    Like

  2. What better and more open way is there for teachers to share ideas, opinions and practice?
    None.
    Blogging gives access to not only a local but a global audience.
    This type of sharing leads to innovation.

    It means that the people doing the job get to tell their stories and people want to read it.
    While my own blog my not be the most popular or earth-shatteringly original – but the fact that I am quoted in this post means that someone took an interest.

    Social Media and the blogosphere is that great freedom and definitely empowering.

    Like

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