Monday, July 24, 2006

taking a shot at connecting the dots

OK, I know, I know. I wrote initially on this blog that school site 'hosted' blog sites might be used for those 'electronic indications of appreciation'--simple observations or 'noticings' by teachers of contributions to the improvement of the learning environment at the school--that contribute to everyone's sense of well-being, and in fact contribute directly to the improvement of the 'productivity' of both teachers and their students (see 'the hawthorne effect').

And then, before you know it, I'm arguing that teachers should be mounting the barricades, blogsites in hand as it were, to argue for school change at both the local and regional level. Teachers unite! You have nothing to lose but your learned helplessness! All power to those who are actually doing the work, teaching in the trenches!

Yeh, yeh, it's hyperbolic I know; not a little reminiscent of that stale sounding 60's rhetoric many of us have rightly learned to listen to with a wary ear. We've been there before, as I pointed out in my 'blogging and the isi' post, and we're not likely find invitations to return anything less than off-putting.

But might there be a connection between the low level 'electronic noticings' I spoke about earlier and the higher level advocacy role I've been suggesting for school-site based blogs in my more recent postings?

I'd like to propose the following: that as teachers get better at first noticing and then describing, in the semi-public forum of a school-site based blog, what genuinely contributes to enhancing the learning environments in which teachers teach and learners learn, they will be taking the first initial steps towards becoming effective advocates for local and regional educational reform.

I do realize, of course, that the first and most difficult step to take in that first one--committing yourself to making that first observation, that first act of 'electronic appreciation.' You don't want to look foolish, after all. And you don't want to end up sending out invitations to an electronic party, only to discover you're the only one in the virtual room. Right?

But here's where the ISI experience, or any other profound experience of heightened professional colleagiality with one's fellow teachers, can play a vital role. You know what it feels like to be in such an environment, yes? And you know how much this 'feeling' contributes to your desire to become an even more effective teacher than you already are. Right? And you even know something about how to describe what you're doing so that others will understand why you use the particular teaching strategy you do, yes?

So why not take the chance? Why not try setting up that school-site hosted blogspot? Why not try committing yourself to one of those 'electronic indications of appreciation' of one of your fellow teachers, and see what happens?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I find your idea of school-site-based blogs intriguing (especially the notion of "noticing and describing"), but difficult to enact. Here are a few thoughts:

1) School's "egg crate" design make it next to impossible for me to see (and so notice and describe) what my colleagues are doing with kids that contribute to their achievement; I can only describe what I hear them say they are doing. I think that blogging on their self-reported actions might be more of a PR job than an inquiry that is really thoughtful and helpful.

2) And you compare teachers at a site with teachers in an invitational summer institute. But this comparison has lots of differences. "Invitational" already alerts us to the fact that these teachers have a certain perspective and motivation that other teachers at their site don't have; ISIs involve a trust element that school-sites often don't have; ISIs are not all teachers from one site, which diffuses their common power; communicating with all teachers at your site insinuates a kind of power move which, in my experience, would not be welcomed by administrators.

Edublogs are often anonymous, because of the problems with a teacher speaking out publicly. Do you have examples of school-site-bsed blogs where teachers are doing what you propose?

I appreciate your interesting ideas and will continue to check back.