Thursday, October 8, 2015

Why I Blog & Those Legendary Bloggers and Educators that helped

Edblognz Connected Educator Week 1 Challenge 2

Write a blog post about why you blog professionally and some of the things you blog about.Write about some legendary bloggers, educators, inspiring leaders that help you to dream bigger.

I don’t think of myself as a blogging legend. I go in phases of big bursts of blogs, and then breaks when everything else takes priority for a while, so I think casual blogger fits the bill nicely. But as I was away, and “unplugged” for the first week of the blogging challenges I thought I’d combine the casual and legend challenge 2 together to catch up! 

In 2013 I began following and reading- with some envy, but also with huge professional interest, admiration and agreement the journey of Maurie and his team at Hobsonville Point Secondary School as they prepared to take in their first intake of learners. Starting with Maurie and Claire and their blogs, and then moving onto the blogs of now well known educators like Sally and Steve as the school began employing more people. I still avidly read anything they all write. They are the blogs I subscribe to, so if I happen to miss the tweet about them, they come into my email anyway.  (@maurieabraham, @ClaireAmosNZ et al)

I spent a bit of time talking to Lesley- the Principal at Amesbury in Wellington and she encouraged me to start blogging and tweeting about what was happening at TKAS. I think all of us need someone like Lesley- someone you respect as an educator, who encourages you and affirms for you that your story is worth sharing. (@LMurrihy)

By 2013 we had spent three years starting up a new school, but one with a difference in that we had all our students (and more than expected) on Day 1, and we were still on a temporary site while our new buildings were being built.
So new school, but old buildings, older resources, and a full school with not enough staffing.
We are a rural area school and we cater for some learners who are vulnerable and have not always been best served by the systems- nation-wide as well as educational.

For me I wanted to share the story of the learning happening at TKAS, and particularly to share the stories around my thinking that its not just privileged learners in new Decile 10 growth corridor communities that new and different learning programmes are good for.  They are also necessary, and in fact maybe vital for the learners in more vulnerable communities. In short I wanted to ensure the Decile 1 story is shared alongside the Decile 10 stories. 
Sam Gibson has recently begun sharing about the journeys at Tapawera High School and it’s great to have another low decile secondary voice out there sharing similar kinds of stories. (@samgibson1983)

I also thought that although new schools tend to be in larger urban areas, different kinds of learning programmes can work in rural schools as well. In fact as I have become more involved with the area schools network over the last few years, my common catchphrase is area schools are some of he best situated to be making some of the transformative changes in learning programmes being talked about today.

Lots of people have written over the last week about how blogging helped them to put their thinking together. How it helps them to reflect and find a way forward. And I absolutely agree. Reflective practice a great outcome of blogging.

But I also blog to share. Living, learning and leading in an isolated part of the country the power of online communication allows us to share our story and the learning we are doing alongside our learners in a way that wouldn’t have been possible 10-20 years ago.

And through blogs, and then twitter I have made so many more connections than I’ve had- even when teaching in a major city. I’m definitely  little addicted to Twitter and the Blog links that get published on there. There’s something a little bit magic about reading other peoples blogs- it allows you inside their minds, and it allows you to connect at a different level than a twitter chat does- both really valuable connection tools. I think we get the most out of combining the magic of both.

It hasn't always been easy, and I struggled with the way to write things at times, because you re always aware that what you re writing is going out into the public domain. And you are always plagued by thoughts of why would anyone want to read this? As well as have I written this in an understandable way that is engaging for the reader? There were certainly drafts that were respectfully critiqued by educators that I respect and re edited a number of times. There were others that didn’t ever make it to publish stage. But that all helped develop more of an idea about how to write for a blog and keep it useful for myself, and for anyone who might be interested in reading it. As I began post graduate study this year I have noticed a massive increase in my confidence to write in an academic setting- and i think thats partly due to all the blog writing of the last couple of years.

So anyone thinking about starting blogging- go for it. It helps you reflect, it helps you develop a writing style and it shares a story and some thinking that someone somewhere is probably also thinking about it. 

You learn you are not alone. Because blogging definitely helps you connect with the wider education world.

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