Bill Gaskins of Creating a Path For Learning in the 21st Century has hosted a series of posts about the impact that blogging has had in the lives of educators. My post today is cross posted on his blog. Be sure to check it out the earlier reflections shared by librarians, consultants and teachers that were featured on his blog this week.
What has changed you as a learner? When reflecting back to my personal memories, there are a few times that stand out for me. Learning with my fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Green (because she believed in me), placing as regional runner-up for the Optimist Club’s Oratorical Contest as an 8th grader (which boosted my self esteem) and my student teaching experience with Steve Shack (working alongside a strong model) are all memorable moments in my life that have altered what I know about myself and what I have learned about teaching.
When asked to think about how blogging has transformed me as a learner and a teacher, my first thought is that it has developed my identity. Blogging has helped me feel like and take risks as a writer. I know that I am not the most the most profound or intellectual writer but I have come to feel like a person who has a message to share. A message that others will in turn offer feedback and reactions to my thoughts. I was not this empowered as a student. Though interested in learning, I found my place at the back of the classroom, a student who was nervous about saying something “wrong.” Blogging has allowed me to express my thoughts on topics that I feel strongly about: teaching, children and creative ways to enhance learning. So, first and foremost, blogging has given me a voice. A Year of Reading, Liz in Ink and MotherReader were a few of the first blogs that helped me find my own voice.
As a beginning blogger, I learned about bravery. I wrote what was on my mind wondering, would anyone read this or think it was worthwhile. I questioned my posts. Were they “good” enough? Was what I saying of value or did invite connections in my readers? I learned to let go of these thoughts, taking risks even when I was unsure of myself.
With more blogging, I am learning the value of collaboration. Sir Ken Robinson speaks of importance of collaboration in his presentation on Changing Paradigms. He talks about how “great learning happens in groups and that collaboration is the stuff of growth.” As a blogger, I find myself reading about ideas in posts, connecting with those ideas and then linking to them in some of my own posts. The excitement of collaborative learning drives me. I am inspired to hear from other bloggers who write about topics that are meaningful to me, comment about my connections or ask questions when I want to know more. Blogging also motivates me when I am posting about a topic that I am excited to share and receive feedback from other bloggers. With blogging, I am realizing how others thoughts (Weblogg-ed and Be Playful), questions and wonderings are expanding my understandings of the world. Blogging invites unending possibilities for collaboration.
Another significant lesson I have embraced as a blogger is the power of reflection. Reflection, as defined by dictionary.com, is “a fixing of the thoughts on something; careful consideration.” By blogging, I have entered into a realm of reflection that is deeper and public. Often, I take a happening or moment from my day at home or in the classroom and I think further about it by writing a post. Just by the act of first reflecting, I have found myself then experiencing something else: questioning. My own experience is similar to the process that Scott Filkins, editor of NCTE inbox, refers to in his post: The Value of Questioning in Professional Growth. Scott writes about his process of discovering his need to formulate questions within classroom situations and acting on those questions. Blogging has been that first stepping stone in my personal learning journey. It initiates my thinking about an idea, which then leads me to question that idea, and later to act on it in the classroom. With this process, bloggers like Cathy, Ann Marie and Julie have strengthened my ability to reflect, question and act on my own teaching.
Learning is not about right or wrong, rather, it is discovering what you love, searching for more and creating with what you are learning along the way. Blogging has allowed me to discover my own voice, dabble in collaboration, reflect then make changes in my own practice and share my love of teaching and learning with others. Next: How can I begin this learning journey with my own students ?