Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Kicking off a New Blog - 30 Day Challenge Day 1

With the onslaught of 'ice bucket' challenges happening all around us lately,  I almost overlooked this challenge from colleague,  +Bonnie Birdsall  to join her in  Te@ch Thought's 30 day blogging challenge towards more reflective teaching.   The challenge provides educators with a new prompt each day for educators to reflect on and blog about for 30 days starting September 1 using the hashtag  #reflectiveteacher to share with a greater audience.

Like +Bonnie Birdsall I no longer have a classroom full of K-12 students physically walking through my classroom door right now, but I'm still involved with teachers and students on a daily basis using technology tools that connect me virtually and have plenty of plans to connect physically with as many K12 schools as I can this year.   Today's technology also provides me with opportunities to have a classroom full of educators enrolled in my online classes at University of Vermont and Marlboro College and to connect with schools throughout the country and beyond by engaging in projects that digital tools make possible.  Those current opportunities as well as 30+ years of memories from my active involvement as a  K-12 educators provide me with plenty to reflect upon -  so I accept the challenge,  reserving the right to wander from the reflection prompts provide by Te@chThought.

However, the first reflection prompt fit quite nicely to kick off this 30 day blogging challenge.

What are your goals? 

Every Fall teachers set up their learning space to reflect the goals they have set to kick off the new school year.   Arranging the furniture,  setting up learning centers, and creating bulletin boards speak volumes about the goals a teacher has set for herself and her students.  Several goals came to quickly came to mind,  and those who know me know that I never have a lack of goals -  more like too many goals.   So I decided that I would focus on ONE goal to kickoff this challenge -  The goal of  setting up a new digital presence (a goal I've had for a while, but one that keeps finding itself moved to the back burner)   So what better motivation to get started than with this 30 day blogging challenge than to make a 30 day commitment to this goal!

My reflection when kicking off this goal was to ask myself WHY which lead me to a journey down memory lane about my blogging history.  From 2001 - 2005 I had been using blogging platforms in a variety of ways, and had even completed an action research project on blogging  as a grad student in an course for the same program that I'm currently teaching for at the University of Vermont.

But in  2006 I moved from a static website to a blogging platform as my primary web presence using TYPEPAD - at that time it was the blog platform of choice for Guy Kawaski (which I'm sure had an influence on my decision).  
It was less about 'blogging' the verb as it was
about leveraging the blogging platform to quickly create digital content in a way that made it visually appealing, readable, easy to update and thus more accessible to others.

This was about the same time I started blogging (yes this time I'm using the verb "TO BLOG" in its more traditional sense) and joined a team blog
 The Infinite Thinking Machine) with +Mark Wagner +Lucy Gray  +Wesley Fryer +Steve Hargadon  +Tom March   +Julie Duffield  and +Chris Fitzgerald Walsh.  This was probably one of the most reflective times in my teaching practice.  I would spend whole weekends crafting one blog post.  I made sure there were lots of links to related research for any topic I wrote about.  It really was more like writing a bi-weekly column.  I truly enjoyed the practice of reflecting and writing each week and I met the most amazing educators while doing so - most of which I'm still connected with today.   I was sad to see Infinite Thinking Machine blog get retired,  but my practice of reflection never really stopped,  though it became less visible, less regular, more binge-like.  Perhaps this 30 day challenge will get me back into the practice of blogging -  perhaps it will simply set me on the road to re-designing my digital presence.  Only time will tell, but I'm ready to get started reflecting on this goal and other changes in my practice that are happening all around me.

Thanks +Bonnie Birdsall  for putting the challenge out there;  I'll do my best to keep up with you.

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