Why Blog? For my students…
While the road to this goal has been paved with unintentional hypocrisy and failure, one of my main goals as a novice teacher has been to empower my students with as much control over their education as possible as while I have simultaneously tried to emphasize the process of learning. Through journaling, class conversation, and reflective essays, it has been my hope that my students would grow and improve over the year not just as students of ancient and medieval world history (which, let’s be honest, all but a very small handful will ever think about again come June), but as critical thinkers and learners.
As students began this process, I also experimented – to varying degrees of success and failure – with getting more and more student input into assignments as the year went on. Early attempts at having the students write their own test or assigning a presentation without any real guidelines met with mixed results. At the midpoint of the year students wrote an I-Search paper on an unanswerable question of their choosing, investigating how different world religions had addressed their concerns. These papers were for the most part good, with some being excellent. Finally, we just completed a unit on Eastern Civilization where students became the “teachers” of the class with the responsibility of both teaching and assessing their “students.” And while there were some unfortunate exceptions, these presentations were for the most part excellent. This assignment combined both my goals – of helping students to learn how to learn while simultaneously empowering them with control of their class – and I was happy with the results. I hope this blog allows us to take this process another step.
While the state mandated curriculum has served to handcuff our efforts in many ways, the state tests will be completed in the next two weeks, leaving us with five weeks to (hopefully) truly create a much more ideal educational experience.
Why Blog? For me…
Over the past few weeks I have become more and more conscious of a certain hypocrisy in my teaching. While I force my students to actively reflect on their own learning, I have not actively reflected on my progress as a teacher. So in one sense I hope this blog will serve in many ways as my own public learning journal.
But as I have very recently discovered, blogging will allow me to do this in very powerful ways. Over the past couple months, I have begun reading a number of educators who have joined the public forum of the Internet to share their thoughts and experiences. The ways I’ll use this blog has been particularly inspired by Will Richardson, Bud the Teacher, the guy who writes Remote Access, Tom Daccord, and Thomas Cortese. Similar to how Paulo Freire wrote about the need to eliminate the one way traffic of the “banking model” of teaching in favor of creating communities of teacher-students and students-teachers learning together, these thinkers have made me realize the power of moving beyond the web as simply a method of content delivery. I now realize that the true power of the web is to connect readers and writers, so that “every reader is actually a writer, and you write not so much for “the reader” but for other writers.” I guess I am now ready to accept that responsibility.