Friday, October 28, 2016

Saturday, Oct. 29: The Educational Blog: Firehose or Drinking Fountain?

So: blogs. I'm a long-time reader of various blogs, usually about knitting, cooking, or books. About ten years ago, when blogs exploded into being, I spent way, way, way too much time reading them, and I had to limit my time on them, so now my Friday evening routine involves coming home, settling in, and reading the six or so blogs that remain my favorites, limiting my time spent (wasted?) blog-browsing, while still providing me with knitting inspiration, cooking ideas, and far more books on my to-be-read pile than I will probably ever read.

As an English teacher, the bulk of my time is spent reading student writing, and I firmly believe that's the way it should be. I'm proud to say that I have many students who credit me with "teaching them to write" or "teaching them they could write," and that doesn't happen through me standing in front of the classroom diagramming sentences. When I am teaching my usual course load, I spend at least two hours each school day evening/early morning providing feedback, with at least two hours on Saturday or Sunday afternoon thrown in there for good measure as well. Factor in prep/planning, my role as learning area leader, and a life, even one bounded by "school nights" (thank heaven I married a teacher!), and I don't have much free time.

I've also been teaching a long time, and I've done a lot of experimenting and changing of curriculum in that time. I'm practical, but I'm also open to change, and I've team taught, done PBL, taught remedial, honors, AP and untracked classes. . . . so my practice tends to be a blend of a lot of different approaches. It works pretty well, but I'm always open to new ways of doing things. For example: David Rickert's blog caught me right off with its post on how to make students hate annotation less. My learning area looooooooooves annotation: double-entry journals are bread and butter for many of us, but they haven't really worked well for me. I liked his suggestions, and I find a lot of his posts are specific, sometimes funny, and very applicable to something I (and my colleagues) do. His information offers a tune up to something we already do.

Edutopia offers a look into the larger issues and research percolating in education today, so it's something I might check when I'm wearing my learning area leader or teacher/leader hat. It is definitely on the firehose side of the scale, however, since each article leads to several other connected topics, and the side bar alone provides enough articles to keep me reading and thinking for a professional degree's worth of study time. The post I commented on was clearly a  hot topic, and the comments were pretty fierce; I took a long time in making my comment, because I felt like I was in the big city and had better watch my step!

Wicked Decent Learning could fall into the same category of large-focus blogs, but as it's based in Maine, I have a sense that if I have a burning subject I'd like to raise, I could contact the owners and they would either open the topic or even allow me to write a guest post. This is great, as it stimulates my professional ideas (and my writing skills); it's also energizing and helpful to connected to other involved educators outside my school/district/county/region but still in my state. The post I commented on dealt with professional development, a general educational concern, and with the issue of diversity in Maine, a location-specific topic; these two areas provide a great example of why I like following a Maine-based education blog!

The next two blogs are ones that instantly make me feel like a slacker when I visit them. Cult of Pedagogy and Innovative Educator both remind me of the lifestyle blogs that beat up so many women's self esteem in the early. . . . well, that STILL beat up so many women's self-esteem. How can these women teach, post, do tech stuff, go to conferences, and apparently have lives? Are they Martha-Stewart-like sleepers who need only 4 hours of sleep a night? Do they have time-turners? They have good points, hints, and inspiration, but, in all honesty, everything I read from them is shaded by my sheer jealousy and irrational self-hatred which limits my ability to access good information from them! I feel the same about certain cooking blogs I follow (Two Peas in Their Pod and Joy the Baker, I'm looking at you), but those people aren't effortlessly rocking my profession. It's interesting how it took me a while to get to that understanding!

Anyway: I've learned a lot from my blog following, and I've found it a bit more accessible and less overwhelming than my Twitter experience (again, I hope to blog about that difference). As I go along, I plan to trim my blog roll a bit, and I hope I will end up with a list of tried, true, and helpful resources that I can consult when I need general inspiration/information or specific support.

Ms. Leamon, after blog surfing. . .  

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