The perfect sunset. The funny moment. The great jazz performance. There are all kinds of reasons that people take to social media to “share”. Tweets and blogs abound.
I started my first travel blog, Hoodooquest.blogspot.com, on my first trip to China as a way of learning about this “new terrain of blogging” and to share my Chinese teaching adventure with family and friends. My friend, Jan Wells, informed me she read it every morning with her coffee and the newspaper while I was in China. Then I discovered that people I didn’t know, read it too. This gave me the confidence to jump down the “rabbit hole” into the world of blogging.
I’ve always written a journal. I have volumes, starting with the pink Holly Hobby diary, on family, school, friendship, skiing, romance, food, travel, motherhood, injustices of life and grand celebrations. They are highly personal and come with disclaimers that they should be destroyed and certainly not read when I die. Yes, I have always had a flair for the dramatic. Blogging can encompass a similar style of writing with strong voice and opinions. However the public aspect of blogging requires an additional lens. I am processing my own thinking, but very aware of engaging an audience.
My early blogs were specifically intended as teaching tools (T2fish.wordpress.com, tecumsehcomputerwhiz.wordpress.com). They had specific learning outcomes and a body of content to present. They targeted Tecumseh students but the stats reflected the interest was beyond the school community. My next evolution of blogs were very similar to newsletters. They shared relevant information with a specific audience and I tweeted them for accessibility to a greater audience: For the foodies – SeriousIdulgences.wordpress.com; For educators and community members interested in social justice for children- cultureofpeace4kids.wordpress.com ; For PDK members in Vancouver – pdkvancouver.wordpress.com. However I learned most about engaging an audience when I used Kidblog to introduce blogging to gifted students. Those kids created amazing blogs about their passions and our conversations about audience inspired interesting thoughts about reaching a like minded community of learners to provide feedback and mentoring. I’m just beginning to touch on the things they taught me. It was at that time that I started to actively follow blogs and the twitter feeds of people who inspire me and make me think, such as Jordan Tinney, George Couros, Chris Kennedy, Steve Cardwell and Ruben Puentedura.
This input, suggested reads, my professional inquiries, collaboration with colleagues and students have made Inquire2Empower (carriefroese.wordpress.com) my most interesting blog to date. I started writing it as a way to build community with other literacy educators in British Columbia. It has emerged to a place where I not only share information but also develop my thoughts on a variety of professional topics including literacy, leadership, thinking skills, educational technology, human rights …basically all of those issues that are near and dear to my heart. The public nature of my blog, holds me accountable for taking the time to reflect on my learning and articulate my thoughts. Once it hit over 2,000 views, I realized people were interested and I had developed an online PLN.
Inquire2Empower is very much question driven, as suggested by the name. During my first temporary contract as a teacher, I was doing a maternity leave. My burning questions were why did I hate teaching reading when I loved to read? How could I engage students in the lesson with contrived, didactic material? It taught me early on in my career that the pursuit of the answer is what has the real power to make a difference my practice. Blogging and tweeting brought to light the concept of Virtual PLCS (Casey Reason 2015). Social media has very much facilitated the formation of a wider community of informal groups that have emerged into symbiotic relationships. The world of blogs and twitter have provided a structure for me to reflect on my learning but also provided opportunities to participation in Ignite Nights in Vancouver and Coquitlam that personalized the online connections. It also opened up risk taking ventures like “One Word Burger”. It has provided amazing choices of speakers for professional learning and the people attending are eager to participate. It also allows for the follow up and consideration of the ramifications after complex sessions, like Ruben Puentedura’s SAMR model. It has opened up opportunities for me to personally present to interested audiences. Multiple pathways of learning. Isn’t that what makes the world of education so interesting? Yes, for me, the answer is “to blog”.