The End, or a New Beginning?

The notebooks
Whether I blog or not, the notebooks continue to fill…

I started this blog about ten months ago to document my thoughts and discoveries along my Fulbright journey. Now that the journey is over, I’m reflecting on what I’ve gained from the blogging experience, and wondering if it is worth continuing now that I have gone back to my busy life of teaching and farming and homeschooling (though that last journey may be almost over, too.)

I’m sure I will continue to read blogs, because I’ve found so many book recommendations, resources, and links to new research findings through the ones I’ve been reading this year. I’m also sure I’ll read fewer British education blogs, though, because I now feel that I could happily live the rest of my life without ever again reading the word ‘Ofsted’- the name of the dreaded English government agency that inspects schools and grades teacher lessons and, apparently, simply cannot blogged about enough. I recognize that the pugnaciousness of bloggers led to to changes in the way Ofsted grades teacher lessons, and have a made a mental note of their strategies to affect change, but my world is too removed from theirs to muster up much enthusiasm for the fight.

I will keep following some British blogs, like Diary of a Not So Ordinary Boy and Milk with Two because they offer perspectives about teaching and learning that transcend the ever-shifting political world of education in England. I’m excited to keep following the blogs of fellow Fulbright Distinguished Award teachers as they journey to other countries, like Mikä Estää in Finland and iSPED 2 Singapore.  I also like blogs that help me keep up-to-date on educational research findings, like Larry Cuban in School Reform and Practice and From Experience to Meaning. I would like to follow more international education blogs, especially those addressing secondary special education, if anyone has suggestions.

I spent several hours over the weekend picking through blogs to see which still apply to my interests, and will help me in my ongoing journey to improve both my personal teaching and my advocacy for quality education in my community. I’m not finding as many as I had hoped, so I’m asking for suggestions, and maybe some of the answers will be helpful to others out there, too.

I’m on the lookout for American teacher blogs that will:

  • connect with my interests in special education, rural education, and lifelong learning
  • connect with American and Tennessee teachers to discuss ways to take charge of our educational reform from a grassroots level
  • empower and promote teachers as agents-of-change within our systems
  • inspire and support each other through sharing resources, books, and research findings

Whether I blog or not, I continue to write. I have several pieces about inclusive education, blended learning, and teachers-as-reformers, in addition to more observations of the schools I visited in England, Finland and Germany rolling around in my head and in my crazy notebooks of ideas. Writing is something of a compulsion for me – it helps me process my thoughts.

In favor of blogging, I think that I do my research and consider my opinions more thoroughly when I know that I’m going to publish. In that way, it helps me become more confident that I am working toward efforts that I truly believe in. But there are drawbacks as well.  Obviously, it consumes my time. but more than that, it exposes my self-doubts. Both teaching and writing are part of an ongoing journey of learning and self-improvement for me. When I read other teacher blogs, I enjoy those that are using the medium to flesh out ideas and improve their thought processes. But I have seen how they open themselves to the meanness that is rampant on the internet. That fear looms over me when I think of posting, and I censor my thoughts too closely. So, if I continue blogging, it will only be that I have decided to let go of my fear of other’s judgments and experiment more on the edges of new ideas or tentatively held opinions, with the objective of getting more feedback from my readers.

And I would definitely continue blogging if some of my fellow teachers and parents in Tennessee would join me in a mutual blogging community where we could share ideas and take the lead on education reform in our schools. We don’t have to agree. In fact, I like to debate ideas and listen to people who think differently from me. I do want to share with people who have some manners, though, so we ought to agree to show respect in our comments and conversations. I encourage disagreement and questioning in my comments section, but ask that you use the same rules of civilized conversation you would use in face-to-face debate. I also ask that you include your criticisms either in my comments or on your blog with a link to me, so that I can respond. I promise to follow the same guidelines with you. Anybody in?