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150 Posts Later

World of Recent Posts

Wordle of Recent Posts

I think, in many ways, my blog has defined my superintendency in West Vancouver.  I came into the role committed to doing things differently and while many of the aspects of the work are hard to define, or are not very visible, my efforts at writing for a public audience, about once a week, has been something I have been completely committed to.

My original motives behind blogging are largely the same today:

  • try to be transparent with my learning and leadership
  • model the “new way” many claim is the way students will learn — engaging with the world, and using digital tools to connect in ways we couldn’t connect without them
  • offer a different voice on educational issues from those in the mainstream media
  • work out ideas; get feedback, and push my own thinking

Some of what I have learned over the last 150 posts:

  • there is a tremendously supportive community of interested teachers, students, parents, and others wanting to engage in topics related to education
  • a good post can influence conversations in schools and the community
  • my network will help me out when I need it — it’s pretty amazing to have access to hundreds of the smartest people in the world through my blog
  • building a digital network makes it so powerful when you meet these people face-to-face —  it’s like you’re old friends
  • some of my thinking has changed over time, and the blog is a wonderful resource to track the changes in my ideas —  a filing cabinet for my brain
  • I am always a little nervous when I hit “Publish” — mostly worried that former English students of mine will find my spelling or grammar errors, and also worried that I may offend instead of engage
  • my writing has improved — it is a skill that improves with practice
  • a good post is one which people talk about the ideas raised; a bad post is one which has people talking about what I said… and, I have definitely done both

Some advice I would give to other educators starting to blog:

  • be clear about what you will and won’t write about — it is easier if you know from the onset the ‘what’ and the ‘why’ behind your blog
  • it is a bit cliché, but write for yourself, not for what others may want; let the blog be a personal journal in a public space
  • do not be too ambitious with your writing — make plans to write once a week, or once a month and stick with it
  • use social media (Twitter, Facebook, etc.) to amplify your message
  • be thoughtful of the relationship between your professional role (teacher, administrator etc.) and your blog
  • think in blog posts — when you are at a conference, reading a book, or attending a meeting, begin to organize your thoughts and take notes like you are writing a story
  • the more voice you can have in your blog the more engaging it is for readers
  • be a storyteller — our schools are full of amazing stories waiting to be told

Some other observations:

  • the posts that tend to get the most interest are ones about self-regulation or athletics; people also really appreciate a little bit of “personal” mixed in with educational theory
  • blogging is a wonderful way to publicly say “Thank You” to teachers, colleagues, and mentors who have been an influence in your life
  • the busiest day for comments on my blog is Sunday, which is not true for other bloggers, but makes sense in the education world — it is the one time when we actually have a few minutes to read and reflect
  • we still need to find ways to make education more accessible – and while we need bloggers wanting to be the New York Times or the Globe and Mail of blogging; we also need less formal versions (I realize mine are more the latter)
  • it is not easy to write for a public audience — if you are told otherwise, the person is not being honest with you
  • it is okay to write about serious things, but in my blog I try not to take myself too seriously — while it should be informative, it should also be fun

I realize people like to put others in simple boxes.  I spent the first part of my career as the basketball coach who taught English and Social Studies.  I then transformed into the “kid” who became a vice-principal, and now I am the blogging and tweeting superintendent.  I suppose there are worse things I could be (or called), and I have become very comfortable with who I am and blogging has helped with this.  It has forced me to be specific about ideas, pushed me to share publicly, and given me a regular vehicle to reflect and refine my thinking.

At an earlier stage in my life I was a newspaper columnist for a local community paper. After about 150 columns I felt I ran out of things to say.  Blogging is different; it is the difference between telling and engaging, and I look forward to engaging in the next 150.

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