Thursday, September 10th, 2015...9:27 pm

The Teacher Is Not The Audience

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classroomblogging

 

Six years ago, when I sat down to type my very first blog post, I had no idea how much that decision would shape me. How much I’d grow as a writer and a member of a community. How much I’d come to rely on this space to figure myself out. How much writing here would make me a better mother for the moments it forces me to see.

It should be no surprise that blogging has made me a better teacher too.

I started a blog because I needed an outlet. Because journaling wasn’t enough for me anymore. Because I wanted an audience and connections and a reason to put words on a page.

I started blogging with my students three years ago for the same reasons, really. They needed an audience bigger than just me. In this age of technology, for many of them journaling seemed superficial or forced – something to do only in school. Because my students deserve a reason to put words on a page aside from “I assign you an essay,” or “You have to pass a test.”

Last year was the first year I rolled out blogs to all my students. I wrote at the end of the year about that experience and how inspired I was by the growth and dedication I saw in my students.

And they saw it too. They told me again and again that they couldn’t believe how much they had grown as writers. That they were so happy to see what others were saying and have a chance to respond. They loved looking at their statistics and reading comments that didn’t only come from a teacher.

A few weeks ago, as we began another school year, my department decided they want in on this blogging journey too. None of them are bloggers themselves. They all have varying levels of comfort with technology and experience in the classroom. But after hearing me talk about it so passionately for so long now, they all jumped in to blogging with their students.

We’ve already learned a few lessons and I know there will be many more as the year goes on. We’ve tackled communicating our intentions to parents, setting up blogs with over 1000 teenagers, logistical ways of keeping track of each students’ individual blog, helping students to comment productively on each others’ work. And we are only 3 weeks in to school!

This morning eight teachers met in my room for a PLC no one directed us to create. We weren’t there because of any mandate or paperwork we were required to fill out. We were there because this year we are all learning together how to build a classroom writing community using blogs. We are encouraging each other to step out of our comfort-zone and encouraging our students to do the same.

The teacher isn’t the audience. I don’t want my students to write for me. I want them to write for themselves and for the people who need to hear the important things they have to say. I want them to know that their voices matter outside the walls of a classroom. That their words are powerful tools.

I will be sharing my department’s blogging journey here most Thursdays. I hope you’ll follow along.

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3 Comments

  • I have to admit that I have admired journaling but disparaged blogging as self indulgent navel gazing akin to public exhibition of the inner monologue! Maybe it is, but I see our kids putting their thoughts into words and cannot help but be excited for them.

    Way to go Sarah!

  • I have sided a bit with Adam’s comments about blogging, but I also applaud the bravery and creativity of your department, Sarah! I will keep an open mind. Keep expanding your power as a lover of words and self-expression, wonderful English department guru!!

  • What’s not being said here is that blogging is HARD WORK. It’s not a journal that only you judge yourself by. Committing to writing for an audience on a regular basis and crafting a voice that is reflective of one’s inner monologue makes a person a writer. People who do it “for attention” or to be indulgent don’t last. They don’t blog regularly and they don’t make it an entire year. People who are truly bloggers do it because they have something inside to share with others and they gotta get it out. If that’s not an artist I don’t know what is. The benefit of having community support behind that is the benefit of the tech era and many bloggers have seen their lives change completely from those relationships. This is huge that you’re giving your kids an online portfolio of their work- which frankly is more relevant in this day and age than work that stays in the classroom. (And that’s advice straight from my college professors and employers.)

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