However, it’s also an outlet for teachers to build awareness about issues, share information and best practices with one another and bring about systemic change in education, panelists said during a session at the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards Conference.
“It’s for us to have that information and to be bolstered and to push back,” said teacher David B. Cohen of InterACT.
The panelists, all bloggers, recognized that teachers walk a delicate line: How do you blog about your classroom, school or district without repercussion?
Daniela Robles, a teacher who blogs at Stories From School, suggested that teacher bloggers walk that line by sharing the story of someone who lives in another district or state but whose story highlights an issue or a viewpoint that the blogger wants to share.
Renee Moore, who blogs at TeachMoore and attended the session, emphasized that practicing teachers do need to be careful about what they say.
“It’s a real issue,” she said. “You can put yourself out on a serious limb by blogging.”
However, Moore said, not blogging marginalizes teachers.
“Many of the education expert voices are not teachers,” she said. “We need teachers’ voices to be in the conversation.”
Make sure your boss is aware of your blogging, said Anthony Cody, who blogs at Living in Dialogue.
“Your direct supervisor is the most important person to worry about,” he said. “You have to be sensitive that you don’t go out of your way to embarrass the people you work for.”
He also suggested that bloggers, particularly those who have gained a following, understand their level of strength when it comes to dealing with administrators who might not like what a teacher blogger has to say.
“They’re not going to mess with you if they know you have an audience,” Cody said.
To begin blogging, panelists recommended reading other blogs and start commenting regularly. They also suggested participating in a group blog, with multiple contributors, if you don’t have time to dedicate to a blog, which requires continuous updating to build an audience.
Blogger Nancy Flanagan of Teacher in a Strange Land recommended that teachers approach blogging as if it were a sermon: Focus on one point, and keep it short. Her other suggestions: Vary topics to increase your audience base, pay attention to what people like and write well.
Cody said he has used his blog as entry into policy debates. However, blogging is not the end point.
“Blogs are not vehicles for social change … Ultimately we need to act, he said.”
Image credit: shippee, via iStockphoto