Beyond the Blog

I know how to use blogs in my classroom. Facebook, Twitter, Glogster, Skype, text messaging, instant messaging, digital stories, podcasts, video games,  wikis… I can make anything DIGITAL relevant to the world I create in my classroom. If teaching were a war, I would consider myself fully armed with tech-weapons. (I can see it now…”Wait, wait! Don’t shoot! Give me ten seconds to consult my social network first! Now let me think, how can I say ‘I am going to die. Please someone come to my rescue before this antiquated lit-lover without an iPod tries to shoot me with his metaphorical bullets of published lead? Never mind, I’m toast!’ in 140 characters?) But I worry—can I make the digital equally relevant to the world I create outside my classroom?

I think so.

Blogging this semester reminded me that technology can be a tool for my professional life, in addition to being advantageous to my students’ learning. It can scaffold my understanding of lesson planning, help me build a community of reflective practitioners, and challenge me to experiment. I often get so caught up in perfecting the craft of teaching that I forget that teachers must be students first, educators second. In my vain attempt to flawlessly inspire creativity, I forget that all art teachers are artists themselves, all professors of poetry writers beneath their tweed blazers. I can’t expect to hop on my digital ten-speed and lead the tour-de-Wikipedia without peddling my way through the course first. I don’t expect my students to do this without falling down, and I shouldn’t expect myself to either.

Blogging forces me to be the creative risk-taker I hope students will become in my classroom. It asks me to shape my virtual identity. It wonders if I can train my academic voice to post with hyperlinks and sidebars. It demands that I walk outside my Zone of Proximal Comfort and, Universe forbid, admit my imperfections. It flattens me with its shared trial and errors.

Seasoned teachers tell me that the door used to be closed. What you did within the classroom was your business aside from the occasional administrative visit. But with resources like those posted to each of our blogs, the share-steal mentality has become a reality (rhyme woefully intended) that I embrace with every flaw in my inexperienced body. My angst is so easily consoled by the notion that other newly trained digital front-men exist on these blogs. Our doors are open—to each other and to the network of teachers at large.

My hopes for this blogging-bond beyond graduate school are this:

  1. That I continue to spend time experimenting with my own creativity in print and non-print worlds.
  2. That I open my door and ask for help online.
  3. That I contribute to the great body of ideas and plans and creations that make teaching so damn exciting and perfect.
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