Wednesday, April 25, 2007

A Confession

I came to a realization this morning. (I know, such a dramatic opening, huh . . . I'll make a point about this later.)

Dana recommended Classroom 2.0 in this post, and I thought I'd check it out. I've been on a bit of a social networking binge lately - I've used Facebook for a while and just started using MySpace, and my brother created his competition site (which I plugged for him briefly here).

When I first logged on, there was a big discussion going on regarding a post Miguel made on his blog regarding Classroom 2.0. At the risk of offending someone by attempting to sum up the debate, what I read into it was whether blogging or social networking sites were better.
I agree with you in part; it is definitely a good thing to have a support system of teachers who have a similar perspective on education, and who are interested in trying new things.

But I think it's also important to hear new ideas as well. This is something that can happen in a discussion, but reading blogs offers more of a shmorgish-board of ideas that can spark something new. I read about Classroom 2.0 on Dana's blog. I started thinking some more about by book clubs on Cindy's blog. And I rethought my entire approach to education on Karl's blog.

That being said, I can agree with some of the concerns about blogging posted here. I've been blogging since fall of 2006, and while that's one year less than Miguel, it gets distressing post after post without any readers or comments. Some would probably point out that I'd have more readers if I posted more often - but I'm not going to write to a brick wall either. I know I have some readers, but not enough to generate the kind of feedback that will help me really think about my teaching.

Anyway, I think Carolyn makes a good point above. If it's helpful, we'll use it. If it's not, we'll find something else.
It was around the second to last paragraph that I consciously realized what I've been doing unconsciously for the last two years: I started blogging because my professor Cindy brought in Bud as a guest speaker to talk about integrating technology with learning. It seemed like I better get on the boat or get left behind, if that makes sense. Blogging was a way for me to learn more about the leaps and bounds technology was taking, and join a community of educators who were thinking about their teaching openly. It was my own form of continuing education, something to help keep me honest.

I've been so concerned with the whole audience piece that I don't think I've been honest with myself (or my few readers). I've been so concerned with sounding like a good teacher and sounding smart (like that dorky, overly dramatic introduction). I've hesitated to blog about things because I'm not sure what others will think of them. I've gone back and read previous posts to try to decide if I'm being judged by them - if I feel that I am, I edit or delete them. I'm more concerned with appearances than with using the tool as I intended too. I don't speak genuinely all the time, only if I think people will approve of what I have to say.

I think I've been trying too hard and worrying too much about site visitors and getting comments. We all want approval, and bloggers thirst for comments. And we want to show our mentors that we've learned from them. We want their approval especially.

I want to know my writing is finding an audience - but I should write without being so conscious of the audience. Audience and purpose are important pieces in the writing process, but they shouldn't control every aspect of one's writing.

My point is that one finds the community one wants and needs to be apart of by being genuine. You can't choose the community first and try to fit into what you see as their mold. Maybe that's a benefit of Classroom 2.0 - the discussion decentralizes the conversation, whereas on a blog, my own writing is all you see when you first arrive at the site.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Ben,

    I'm just considering starting a blog and blog activities with my students at Berthoud HS this fall.

    I think that one of the bigger challenges with blogs is that it is still an undefined genre. However, I think the genuineness and authenticity of your voice are keys to good writing on any topic, as is the need to balance what you want to say with how your target audience will hear it. Balancing audience and honesty are the difficulties all writers face.

    I would also mention that I read many more blogs than I comment on because the aggregator in my head is awfully slow to process and synthesize it all. Don't judge the usefulness or quality of your posts by the number of comments. I read your blog (or anyone else's) because I respect your thoughts, I don't want them to be more diffused.

    It was nice to find you on the web...