I am a writer and a teacher, specifically a writing teacher, so blogging is a natural forum for me to share my lessons and experiences. However, as a writer and a person who needs to write to think, to understand, to reflect, blogging is even more important to me as a lifelong learner.
I’ve blogged for years. When I was an active online publisher I ran dozens of themed blogs covering topics from writing to trivia to parenting. When I was a Ph.D. student I blogged (see The Care and Feeding of a Ph.D. Student) because some of my classes required it and I quickly found blogging an useful tool to help me sort through the new knowledge and experiences I needed to synthesize, but due to the demands of a Ph.D. program combined with a full-time job and motherhood I posted in fits and starts. As I moved to the Ph.D. candidate phase I found blogging was more important to me and I started a new blog, Metawriting, and was much more dedicated as I worked through the dissertation process, refined my research agenda, and planned my professional goals. Then in January 2013, I decided to move my blog to my web site and committed to a regular blogging schedule. I’m not organized enough to post on a specific day each week (mostly because once I write a blog post I’m usually eager to share it right away) but I strive to post every week – and was pleased to discover that less than a year later I have 52 posts on my Metawriting blog on Deanna Mascle.com (this is post #52). Apparently I can keep some resolutions!
I blog to share and to teach, but blogging, for me, is most often about learning. Writing, in this case blogging, forces me to reflect and explain all those important follow-up questions – who, what, why, when, and how. I can Tweet about my awesome assignment, students, class, or experience, but a blog post forces me to support my claim and examine what really happened. As a result, I believe that blogging has made me a better teacher and leader because (in true NWP fashion) I am a reflective practitioner. I can fly by the seat of my pants in the classroom, but blogging about my teaching stimulates me to think about why I did what I did as well as the impact of my decisions – and most important of all, how I can do better next time.
My blog is an on-going record of my successes, failures, and the lessons I learned on my professional journey. While making my blog public is a teaching tool, it is also intended to keep me honest and accountable. I am a teacher leader and I hope to lead by example. I know that my blog has impacted others as well. I can see that my reach has grown over the past year and spread around the world, but despite the popularity of the posts I name below, blogging is still very much a personal journey. I blog about what matters to me – teaching writing, fostering writers, supporting writing teachers, teaching with technology, and remediation – sometimes very specific topics, such as six-word stories (Inspiring writing, learning in six words) and low-stakes writing assignments (You can assign writing and avoid a grading avalanche). I have also blogged often about the way I believe writing should be taught (these posts also strike a chord in others including: Rice Crispy Treat Writing Instruction, What if we stopped teaching writing?, and You Can’t Teach the Writing Process)
My blog has charted my growth as an online instructor and my methods for creating an online writing community (Creating an (Online) Community of Learners and Feedback Loops & Writing Workshop)as well as my work with the National Writing Project (Why Writing Studio? and Never Forget To Feed The Writer).
I have also striven to make visible my own personal learning network starting with my first post on this blog (PLNs, Serendipity and Learning) and my views on professional development (I started teaching for the light bulb, but stay for NWP and We Don’t Deliver PD Anymore) as well as my views on learning in general (Education is about the journey, not the destination and Education vs. Learning).
Perhaps my favorite part of blogging is the opportunity to share teaching ideas that have reignited my teaching passion and sparked learning for myself and others such as literacy narratives (10 Ways Literacy Narratives Will Rock Your World (or at least your writing classroom)), teaching with comics (Using Comic Book Themes and Archetypes to Write About Humanity), and my experiments with technology (Google Docs, Blackboard blogs, and class discussion, Using Badges to Assess a Class Community Assignment and Grading Using Google Forms).
Blogging has helped me become a better teacher, a better thinker, and a better learner – and I suspect it has helped others along the way. Combined with Twitter (and other social media to a lesser extent) it is the most powerful professional development experience I have ever had. Can your professional development do that?