One of the most effective things I did in the past school year to help myself become a better educator was to take advantage of the opportunity to blog for Education Closet. In September I started to write a weekly article for this site. My passion is Arts Integration so I jumped at the chance to contribute to a site that is doing so much to support and inform professionals in this area. I knew it was a great opportunity but had no idea how beneficial it would be for me personally and professionally. If you are looking for a tool to hold you accountable, to encourage you to reflect, to inspire you to pursue independent research, and to prompt you to fully explore and articulate ideas you have around your craft, commit to writing a blog.
The first benefit I noticed was that committing to writing a blog meant that I actually had to reflect on my teaching practice every week no matter what. As a classroom teacher, I always started the year with the best of intentions. I would start a journal and plan to write in it everyday to reflect on that day and brainstorm ideas on ways to improve. For about a month, I was great about writing in it daily. The following month, I might get in an entry a week. By November I was lucky if I was writing in it at all.
There is nothing like having that deadline to force you to sit and reflect whether you feel you “have time” or not. Having time is really about making choices and this blog forces me to make a choice that supports my professional goals.
Knowing that people are expecting an article every Wednesday is also great incentive to find something to write about! Now that I know I have regular articles to write my radar is constantly on the alert for anything that might be an interesting topic to explore. I find myself thinking about Arts Integration not on just a personal level as I would do in a journal but also on a broader spectrum. I think about how this teaching approach might impact other educators and the learning of their students. Often, I find myself asking questions and pursuing answers so I can be sure what I write is accurate and relevant.
Once I have that great seed of an idea and do some reading around questions that might arise, then I actually have to articulate those ideas so someone other than myself can understand them! What once was just a quick “ah-ha” moment or a quick mental note has become a real exploration of the significance of a realization or question. Many times I start off writing about something and then realize I have veered off in another direction. I have to ask myself, “What is it that I am really trying to say? What is the important idea here?” I love this process of clarifying my thoughts and being forced to flesh out my ideas. I would never go to such lengths if I was just keeping a journal for myself.
Blogging Might be an Answer…..
I must admit I am spending more time than I imagined I would on each article but I must also admit that I love doing it and feel I am a better professional for it. As is always true for teachers, time is an issue. However, if you are searching for something that will force you to make the time to be a truly reflective professional, blogging just might be an answer.
Deirdre is a teaching artist and AI coach in the San Diego public schools dedicated to helping classroom teachers make arts an integral part of their teaching. Deirdre has an MEd in Arts Integration and over twenty years of classroom and performing arts teaching experience. Email Deirdre.