I’ve always felt that the main reason I became a teacher was not so much because I loved kids (which I do) or that I wanted to “do good” (which I do) but more because I wanted to keep learning. And I’ve found, as I think most teachers have, that good teaching requires constant learning on our parts. To me, it’s the best part of this job.
Which makes it no surprise that I love this process of discovering Web logs. Every day there is something new to learn, something else to think about and struggle through. My collaboration with Anne is a perfect example. Not only are we both trying to figure out the most effective way to use this technology to bring our students together, we’re also realizing the effects that publishing and mentoring and collaborating have on how kids feel about their work and themselves.
I’ve posted an e-mail that I got from Anne yesterday after she met with her students. It’s worth the read if for no other reason that it so clearly articulates the many levels at which we are both being pushed as teachers by this. Her students are facing a whole different set of challenges because of their use of Web logs. For some, it’s scary to be “published” out there and have big kids reading what you write.
It is a scary time for them and they don’t think they can do it. Typically elementary kids just barrel on through and do not have such concerns. They turn a deaf ear to the teacher saying the same thing over and over, to some extent. This is a different story though. They want to be able to do it. They want to deliver. They have an audience they really care about.
This changes how Anne has to approach this lesson, and it changes my role as well. Today I can bet I’m going to be talking with my students about a lot more than journalism. I’ll be asking them to have empathy, to think about their roles as mentors and teachers, and to plan their responses accordingly. (Refer back to what I said earlier about teaching equaling learning…) It will be an interesting day as we figure out how best to nurture what has become an exciting experience for Anne’s kids. (And don’t get me wrong…my kids are excited too. This particular effort is testament to that.)
And the best part is that while Anne and I may in some form just be slinging this all against a wall to see what sticks, some of it definitely is. Anne says
After meeting with the students today, I met with their classroom teachers for a weblog workshop. They were really impressed with what was happening with their students. One of them has a student who is being considered for the gifted program and this student has to submit a piece of work that they are most proud of.. guess what, it was his weblog. The committee probably won’t even know what he’s talking about – :_). Each teacher stated emphatically that they had noticed much improvement in these kids’ writing. Others made comments that reaffirmed what we have been saying about this process. One parent today told me that her son cannot wait until Thursdays, that it is the most important day of the week for him. NOTHING keeps him from getting to school on Thursdays.
That is just too cool.