There Ain’t No Vanity Clause

If you blog even semi-regularly I wonder if there are any posts you wish you hadn’t written. Given that the purpose of blogging, for me, was to aid self-reflection, it would be surprising if there weren’t. Don’t get me wrong, there are posts I’m incredibly proud of and hope to match one day, but there are too many which leave me a bit cold when I think about the their impact. I’m at a bit of a crossroads when it comes to blogging. While it has invigorated my teaching life over the last couple of years I’ve come to a bit of a standstill.

I started blogging on January 1st 2011 and did so after being inspired by blogs I had been reading for some time. Since then, however, there has been an explosion of great blogs as teachers develop the confidence to share their thoughts and, of course, that is welcome. Widening the conversation is what blogging and the internet are made for. You can find blogs on everything you want in education: workable resources, challenging ideas, inevitable controversy, honest and open reflection, and whether invited or not, advice. Unfortunately, though, I keep hearing the same thing from too many bloggers. Despite the nice comments and positive praise on Twitter, our work often has little impact when we get back to our own schools. I worry that without increasing impact, if any at all, my blog has ended up as a vanity project.IMG_0732

In those two years, I’ve also noticed a huge change in the nature of Teachmeets. At their inception, they involved a small collection of educators who would meet, discuss their teaching and share ideas. Now there are Teachmeets everywhere, sometimes several and they are a very different animal. The sharing is still there, and amazing, but I worry that the scope for conversation and further collaboration is being lost. Huge Teachmeets are amazing conferences but the bigger they get the less willing newer participants are to join in and speak up. For while we hear about amazing things and listen to wonderful classroom experiences, we still return to our classrooms on Monday, on our own, with some nice ideas to implement. I think it is often a missed opportunity.

When we read blogs and go to Teachmeets we read the best ideas and see great teachers speaking about their successes. Nothing inspires me more to go back to my classroom and try to be better. But sharing best practice is not really about seeing the best. While watching Andy Murray’s Wimbledon victory I was reminded of Fearghal Kelly’s post from a year or so back. We don’t learn how to be great at tennis by watching the final. We get better by getting in on the training, time and time again, working together to improve on the small things. At the moment I don’t see that happening often enough.
Pedagoo is all about that continued conversation, attempting to provide a platform to share progress in trying out new ideas gleaned from Teachmeets or blogging or from wherever. We try to provide a place to check in with those who we meet at Teachmeet and beyond; someone who wants to try that new strategy or resource can find someone else to converse with during the process.. The positivity we take away form Teachmeets needs to be bottled, otherwise it is a lost opportunity.

I’ve been trying to have a complete break from everything education related for the month of July. I’m a little drained. But what I’ve learned from two and half years of blogging is that unless the ideas I share on Twitter or write about in my blog have impact then it becomes more about me than anything else. If I have little impact in my own school then it is merely a vanity project and I don’t think I’ll bother any more. Alternatively, I need to try harder to be heard. Making people feel more positive about their teaching is great but we need to get our hands dirty and get into each other’s classes if we really want to see change. John Tomsett talks of the potential for Twitter and Blogging to engender an Education Spring. We’re not doing enough yet. Let’s get on it next session.

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