All students will achieve their maximum potential by becoming responsible, productive citizens and life-long learners.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Blogging for the Purpose of Education…Who Benefits?

I have often been asked by friends and colleagues why I blog.  My kneejerk single response is always “to communicate.”  When reflecting on the multiple reasons why I blog however, it dawned on me that every reason came back to education.  Not just education of the surrounding community (teachers, students, parents, et.), but more importantly myself.  Soon to follow was the mental exercise of where communication with the community at large and education meet and how that is enhanced by blogging.

Number One: You

I find that blogging in general allows me to expand the opportunities for all those involved to learn.  For me, it serves as a mental sketchpad where I put down ideas, revisit them, and then put them out for other people to see.  For colleagues, parents, and students it is an opportunity for a glimpse into the inner workings of a school and a portion of who I am as an educator.

One of the biggest problems for both parents and students is that they are outsiders when it comes to how things work within a school.  As educators we preach about the positive impact for students when the parents and school partner to improve the educational experience, but how often do we reflect on this important issue from parents’ perspective?  How do we in education expect parents to work as partners if they do not understand a few basic things such as the; best way to communicate, reasoning behind policies, current efforts being made around initiatives, or vision of the school?

For a few examples (taken from my earlier blogs), topics such as:
·         important transition skills,
·         bullying issues,
·         new initiatives, or

Blogging about topics such as these can help parents and other community members understand something very important about the school in general; you are a credible institution/leader who wants to create relationships with the community through honest communication.

Building Credibility

It is important for community members to know that both the administrators and teachers are up to date not only with the most current research, but also the mediums through which they learn best.  Blogging helps parents get a glimpse into the thought processes, events in the classroom, and motivation behind instruction and decision making.  In essence, the community at large will find more credibility in a person or institution that practices complete transparency.

Number Two: The Community

Lately, there have been more articles appearing concerning the “branding” of schools.  Blogging (along with Twitter) affords the opportunity to do just that.  It gives me the chance to display what type of leader I am as well as what I believe the community needs to know about concerning the school.  In short, it gives a picture or description of not only what kind of school the community currently has, but also what type we could possibly have by working together for the continual improvement of the educational system (high school experience in this case).  After all, schools and the communities in which they reside both have the same vision; students becoming educated, productive citizens who make positive contributions to society.

Creating relationships

Overall, blogging is about engaging the reader.  As I have heard our Librarian/Media Specialist say over and over…”useful content is king.”  Therefore, it is important to understand what may be important to your audience.  A responsive blog that describes or explains any aspect of school life that the community is interested in will help build a relationship.  Blogs basically invite the reader to come in and peruse the thoughts behind action.  The possible clarity provided is priceless when it comes to building a trusting relationship that lasts.

Education is about relationships, engagement, credibility, community…and providing a clear, helpful voice through a blog is an easy way to make a positive impact in all these areas. 

Friday, December 13, 2013

Character Challenge: Courageous

This week’s character trait is Courageous.

Quite often students confuse courageous with reckless and therefore, often approach this trait with the extreme of either shying away or “going overboard.”  The central aspect of this trait is what we all need to help students learn; acting courageously is doing what you believe to be right no matter the opponent and defending those who act in the same fashion.  Take the time and ask your students if they can remember the last time they stood up for something they believed in.  Ask yourself the same question and have a discussion.  I did this the other night and it led to a great conversation about beliefs.  Doing this with people will help build and strengthen relationships as well as your own skill set.

Courage is about pursuing your goals despite any obstacles. A courageous person solves problems rather than avoiding them.  Again, encourage your students to talk to you about the last time they failed and did not try again.  Have them share why that happened.  It is one thing to quote that success consists of falling down nine times and getting up ten, but the reality is different and a lot more difficult.  How many times have you experienced this personally?  That gnawing doubt that makes you hesitate before trying once again to succeed.  Think about it:

·         These students just don’t care about their grades…why should I keep trying?
·         I don’t like what is going on, but I am only one voice…why should I say anything?
·         I tried to integrate technology, but it just doesn’t work…why should I try it again?

Think about it…if you don’t act, try, or at least speak up…nothing changes.  We have to be vigilant in our efforts to continually improve rather than accepting either failure or success as a destination.  As Winston Churchill said; Success is not final, failure is not fatal: It is the courage to succeed that counts.”

With the proper support, we can all learn to be more courageous, which inevitably leads to a better culture with more successful students.    

When it comes down to it, in school, work, or especially life; we all need to be more courageous if we are to improve the culture in which we reside.  This can be done by standing up for what we believe in; supporting those who are in need; and refusing to give up in any of our pursuits towards bettering our collective situation and environment.