I’ve revisited the following message from a friend numerous times over the past year. These words have had a hidden impact. They’ve been a source of inspiration and reassurance as I’ve stumbled towards discovering the most authentic version of myself as a teacher. I’m sharing this message because I think that it might resonate with others who perhaps only need a little extra push to find their voice and share their journey, like I did.
You have a powerful opportunity with your story, your experiences as a disengaged member of the traditional school culture. It is so powerful that you ended up here, and you — consciously or not — are using that power to change the culture for the better, not only calling BS on the current reality but striving to provide a better one. I gather that maybe you don’t consider yourself a writer, but you have a story; you are writing your story right now, adding new pages and chapters, every day, every year. Blogging can be a great way to capture that power for you and for those who are engaged in their own learning journeys. Writers don’t always choose the story. Sometimes, the story chooses the writer. I think through this, what you are engaged in right now, is your story choosing you. You, my friend, are a chosen one.
I’m not a skilled writer, but I do enjoy writing. I know who the writers are in my PLN and they’re awesome. Their words and ideas jump off the page as they seem to effortlessly pull at various threads to reflect, inspire or challenge. I love the complexity of their articles, which I can return to multiple times and glean more information from with each reading. Like elite athletes, there is an aesthetic quality to their work whereas my writing is more resemblant of a weekend MAMIL cyclist; it’s not pretty or getting anywhere very quickly, but it’s passionate and willing to appear a little silly to arrive at the desired destination.
I don’t highlight this difference in skill to self-handicap my writing, quite the opposite. My point is, writing for reflection doesn’t have to be perfect; it just has to be done. I have a friend, an incredible teacher, who I would love to have guest post something on my blog. This person has a powerful story to share but is scared silly by the idea of sharing their journey publicly. All of this leads me to ask:
What are the roadblocks that stop many educators from blogging?
Do we have unrealistic expectations about the quality and quantity of “polished content” that full-time teachers can produce?
How many of us are “paralysed by perfection” before we hit the publish button?
Might publishing our thoughts online lessen our ability to reflect honestly and with the same depth that we would in a more private space?
Why Should Educators Blog?
I think we should celebrate all educators who are brave enough to maintain a blog. Educator and author Bill Ferriter is a decade in and suggests that:
The most important lesson that I’ve learned in a decade worth of writing here on The Tempered Radical is that blogging isn’t about voice or audience or influence in our profession at all. Instead, it’s about reflection and making contributions and learning through thinking. — Lessons Learned from a Decade of Blogging, Bill Ferriter
I have recently tried to change the way I blog on the back of an article from Tom Barrett. By writing for understanding, rather than to show understanding, people have been far more likely to comment and share their opinions and ideas. I’m always grateful for these interactions because through them; I can dig deeper into my own understanding or opinions. This is particularly true when attempting to move into unknown territory.
I’ve never really considered myself to be innovative because what I am doing is only new to me, not new for the world. But, as Tom points out below, context is everything, and you never know when something shared will result in a lightbulb moment for someone else.
There are still people reading my articles on ideas I implemented over 10 years ago and sharing how interesting and exciting they are. What I perceive as innovative is defined by the context I am in, the same is true for you. — You are all innovators, Tom Barrett.
So while I’m not a skilled writer, I will continue to write. I will attempt document the new pages and chapters I add with students and colleagues. I’ll try to reflect regularly and not avoid the difficult questions or topics that need to be tackled in order to move forward. I hope others who are yet to find their voice will too.
Our voices make real our vision, our work, and work wants witness.
And when our work has witness it has the potential, it has the power to better the world.
And just as the book bears no meaning until its words are lifted by the eyes of the reader.
Our work, our vision cannot better the world until it reaches the world.
It is not real until it is received.
And so we have to deliver it.
And we can.