Aspiration, Inspiration, Blog Heroes

“Be the blogger and tweeter you want everybody else to be” and “blog like no one is reading.” I love this advice and the other concrete suggestions in Dan Meyer’s recent post, The Gathering of The High Council of The Math Teacher Bloggers. And I’m thinking about how to take his advice more fully.

One step is to consider the best models out there. Here are four:

Photo: Rainier Navidad

  • Seth’s BlogFrom marketing guru Seth Godin, this blog is consistently pithy and laser focused.
  • Dane’s Education BlogThese words from mindful and empathic independent school leader Dane Peters often make me smile, and his posts never fail to offer a resource.
  • The HeadlinerArtful use of homily to reinforce shared values in school culture is the particular gift of this blog by Palmer Bell, Headmaster at Riverside Presbyterian Day School in Jacksonville, Florida.
  • Independent Schools, Common PerspectivesPeter Gow helps us see and value the connections between the private and public education sectors in this blog published in EdWeek. There are few topics more important for independent school educators at the moment.

Thanks to these folks for inspiration. May we take a lesson from each of them.

When a Fork Won’t Do

Naomi Reynolds Photography

I tweet. I post on Facebook. I edit an association e-newsletter. I curate an association Ning. I manage an association website. Why add a blog?

I think it’s a bit like choosing the ball-peen over the claw-head hammer or the spatula over the fork. Each tool — or each medium — seems to have a purpose to which it is best suited.

Twitter, with its 140-character parameter, seems ideal for sharing a quick piece of information with colleagues: recommendations for reading, reactions to the day’s news, responses to a recent op ed piece. Other educators seem to agree, in that there is a robust exchange of information there. For me, it’s like entering a room filled with school folks carrying on dozens of conversations of interest to me. I find few heads of schools there, I’d note. This is the land of aspiring heads, communication directors, and technology integration specialists — the techno-comfortable.

Facebook seems most effective as a replacement for the once ubiquitous family holiday letter, now deliverable in multiple chapters throughout the year. That said, it seems a useful vehicle for blasting informal snippets of news about one’s organization, too. The most compelling school Facebook presences, I think, offer a glimpse into life at school — photos of student projects, a video clip of a few moments of a recent performance. From an association perspective, it’s a useful medium for continuing to heighten public awareness of our work.

But the blog? The opportunity to step out from behind the institution’s logo. Express a personal opinion. Thump the podium. Ponder aloud.

Plunge!

I encourage school leaders to blog. I believe the benefits are compelling. Putting thoughts to words can be clarifying. Framing ideas in clear language helps us articulate our beliefs and consider them from a slightly different angle. Generating dialogue among educators and within our school communities advances a thoughtful, informed, and collegial approach to our work. Increased visibility, in most cases, is good for our schools and organizations.

Yet, my own blogging has been limited to the travelogue variety, most often featuring my association’s global travel program (see ESHA’s Kenya Experience and China: Cities, Sights, and Schools). I’ve wrestled with the question of finding my own voice for this medium, mindful of my professional commitment, as the Elementary School Heads Association‘s Executive Director, to serve heads of schools with diverse sensibilities, sensitivities, and cultures. If reading, my family and friends are unable to hold back chuckles, just now, knowing that I have no shortage of passions and opinions.

Photo: Ekspansio/E+/Getty Images

So, in the interest of contributing further to thoughtful reflection on school leadership and practicing what I preach, here I go… taking the plunge.