As a young child I heard, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step…” it was said by Rafiki from Disney’s The Lion King. These words still ring true in many situations!
In my case, my teaching journey begins with a single blog post. This one! I am excited to begin this journey, and can’t wait for you (my reader) to follow me on it!
As with any journey, there are some things you need to pack and prepare yourself for, and I am preparing myself by making a list.
A Positive Attitude
With any new situation, you need to put your best foot forward. I am ready to face this new adventure with enthusiasm and look at challenges as opportunities. Since I am all about learning from hands-on experiences, I am ready to take this first step into the great unknown!
No, not a literal bottle of sunscreen for blogging, but more of a way to protect myself from the elements of the interweb. With a layer of sunscreen, I can still accept the viewpoints that I can learn from, but have a filter to protect myself from those that may not be kind, or do not understand the environment of teaching or my opinion.
I may not know the end destination of my blogging as a teacher, but having my own guidelines as I create my posts will keep me on track with my topics. The map is my guide to my pathway.
This is where I pack and carry with me important skills, experiences, and keepsakes along the way. As I learn and find tools useful I will share these in my blog. I hope to create a deep e-portfolio filled with other great stories and information that I can pack with me far into the future.
Most of all, I am going into this new experience with my past stories. I am also hoping to gain new skills and experiences for future stories. With any adventure or journey, I think this is the most fun and hopeful aspect.
Why Take The Step of Blogging?
Other teacher bloggers have had success in blogging for a few reasons. Some of these reasons are:
Global Support and Human Resources
One of the recurring themes of many teachers is their appreciation for the global connections made with other teachers. Through blogging, other teachers can give insight into situations that can be intimidating or unfamiliar to new teachers. Collaborating on ideas, especially classroom management and teaching styles can give an edge to a new teacher’s skills. Ann from The Possibility Post really appreciates the connections made with like-minded individuals. Kathleen Morris from Edublogs also found the global connections to be one of the most exciting aspects of blogging as a teacher. Hearing these success stories really boosts my morale going into this new experience.
A Measure of Personal Growth
Remember when you were little, and there was probably a wall in your house where you could measure how tall you had grown in a certain amount of time? A blog is a digital equivalent and measures your growth as a teacher. This allows for future reflection as a teacher and creates an opportunity to document the journey. Having access to the technology to document and gain new insights from others creates many more opportunities for growth than if you were isolated in your own classroom and school. Matt Miller from Ditch That Textbook lists this as one of his reasons for blogging and notes how much change he has seen in himself as a teacher even in just two years.
Extending the Classroom to Home
The most intriguing aspect of blogging as a teacher is the connection between the parents of students and the classroom. I can understand the benefits of allowing parents to witness their child’s growth, and giving the students an audience to share their accomplishments with. However, while I am willing to share my own growth as a teacher, I find it more difficult to place my students, especially the younger grades on the internet. It makes me nervous because I know that my main audience of teachers would appreciate the work I do with them, but there is always the concern of safety when posting. Parents ultimately have a say in whether they agree to this or not, with FOIP regulations. But should I take the risk with my students? In some families, the internet is a risk for safety, depending on certain circumstances, such as divorce or single parents. In this case, I would not want to put my students at risk, or in danger. I am comfortable with sharing some of my own growths, challenges, things I have learned, but I feel it is an individual opinion in regards to blogging.
Other teachers have shared how much they enjoy this part of blogging and allowing the parents to look into the classroom to see what their children have accomplished. There is also an opportunity for the students to learn about internet safety with a classroom blog. Kathleen Morris includes these into four out of her Top Ten Reasons Every Educator Should Start Blogging. I am still a bit skeptical and will tread this area lightly, but I am ready to see where blogging takes me.
When creating this blog, I thought for a long time about an accurate name for my site. I chose Pragmatic Paradigm for a few reasons.
As a definition, pragmatic is a way of dealing with things practically. In my case, the most practical way to learn is through hands-on activities and situations. Being raised in a rural setting, and being active in 4-H for many years (this is my tenth year), means that I have always “Learned to Do By Doing”, which is the 4-H Motto. Whether this was starting my own chicken flock, halter breaking my steer, or raising a market hog, I have always applied this to my learning ventures. As a student in school, this also meant I had the confidence to take on new experiences. For example, in Grade 11 I designed and built my own large picnic table in Industrial Arts. In Grade 12 I designed and built a porch swing. Through these projects, I learned a lot about planning, drafting, budgeting, building and seeing a project through. I extend these hands-on habits into my other studies, and always appreciate the opportunities to extend my learning beyond reading and writing.
This word is defined as a typical example or pattern of something. My typical example or teaching style will focus on hands-on experiences. In this regard, I will teach and learn by doing things beyond the traditional practice of essays and reading lengthy textbooks and works. In Social Studies, I may get my students to form a government so they can learn about the different systems and methods of government. They could then pass bills or laws to form rules for the classroom. This is just one idea of many for individual subjects and different learners.
Putting It All Together
Pragmatic Paradigm encaptures my desire and mission to have an interactive classroom, with hands-on teaching and learning. The memories created by this teaching style ensures that the curriculum content is not only remembered, but also applied.
I am excited for this journey into blogging as a teacher, but I see it as more of an individual journey, rather than bringing a class with me. Those that I meet along the way may encourage me, or even change my mind, but right now is my opportunity to test the waters of blogging by myself. I look forward to building my skills and watching my growth. Who knows where this first step of the journey will lead to!