The Blog-mosphere




Photo Courtesy of pixabay.com

Prior to looking at Connected Educational Leaders (shared with me by Lyn Hilt), I did a simple Google search for “Blog Rich Kiker.” Rich is a Google for Education Partner, among many other things and I had been inspired by his passion for technology and learning in two of his workshops that I attended. However, when surfing through the results, I stumbled upon a blog about Rich Kiker. The blog discussed meeting Rich and hearing him speak at Educon. Not exactly what I was looking for but the author’s name sounded familiar. Spike Cook? With so many resources that we’ve been exposed to over the last few weeks, who knows where I would have recognized the name but after a few clicks in the blog, I found myself reading through his 365 blog challenge and that’s when it hit me it was from Eric Sheninger’s Chapter 3 Digital Leadership.

Blogging daily? I remembered how crazy that sounded two weeks ago and still resonated as it’s been exhausting creating and maintaining a blog for 3 weeks. In fact, this is the second time writing this post as Google Docs failed to save my writing (actually I think it was a spotty internet connection during a lightning storm). Nevertheless, Dr. Cook (@DrSpikeCook) spent 2014 blogging daily for his blog 365 challenge while he was principal at a New Jersey Elementary. He is currently Principal at a New Jersey Middle School and continues to blog today. What could you possibly blog about for every day for a year? Well, he discusses everything from assessments to PLCs to martial arts, parenting tips while being filled with multi-media rich content.

Dr. Spike Cook's Blog

I decided to respond to a post that I thought was appropriate for this time of year. We often become reflective at the end of the calendar year but we need to ensure we reflect at the end of the school year. We may be in a hurry to reach summer without properly paying respect to the year that was. On this particular post, Dr. Cook posts a few reflective questions that I thought was appropriate for this time of the year as many of us have reached the end of the school year or will be in the next few weeks. The practice of reflection is just one pertinent benefit of blogging. Taking the time for reflection is a powerful process that awakens our awareness about teacher or leadership effectiveness. For a moment, forget about the large audience that your blog can reach but keep in mind that the pure power of journaling and the benefits it has for our own mental state in any profession, or even personally.

Our experiences, thoughts, and practices no longer need to be kept secretive and there are several digital platforms that allow educational leaders to connect pertaining to an unlimited amount of topics as can clearly be seen through Dr. Cook’s Edublogs. On blogging, Sheninger notes “there is no better tool for sharing detailed student and staff accomplishments” but it only starts there. “They allow for detailed descriptions of classroom innovations, summaries of school events, description of large construction projects, student guest posts, and state-of-the-school/district messages. Most important, they allow leaders to tell their good stories.”

Branding

We all are aware of the importance of branding and the role it plays in our decision making. From the running shoes we buy (even if we aren’t runners), the restaurants we eat at and the social media platforms we use and the ones we follow. This is the first time I am looking at branding through the lens of a school district. As we become digital leaders, the impact of “a distinctive sum experience” can create a positive brand which can “instill a greater sense of pride in the leaders’ work and/or school function” (Sheninger, 2014). According to Born, these public relations can three main goals which include increasing awareness, shaping perceptions and attitudes, and influencing behavior. Sharing your school’s story can mold and influence the school’s culture from the inside out and promote a healthy, transparent relationship between stakeholders and the district. Social media has entirely changed the way districts, administrators and teachers communicate, not only among themselves, but with their community. “...we need to fully engage parents so that they not only understand, but feel absolutely comfortable with all the school practices and policies” (Sheninger’s Blog; A Principal’s Reflections).



Sheninger, E. (2014). Digital leadership: Changing paradigms for changing times. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
Born, C. (2013). The technology ready administrator: Standards-based performance. Morrisville, NC: Lulu Enterprises, Inc.

Comments

  1. Ralph,
    Thank you for sharing Dr. Spike Cook's blog. I definitely agree that this is the time of the year to look back and reflectively analyze what went well and what didn't go so well professionally and personally. As Dr. Cook's 365 day blogging venture perfectly illustrates and what you noted in your post is that our professional, and at times personal, experiences, thoughts, and practices no longer have to exist in isolation, but rather, can be integrated into the grand narrative of human discourse through the use of multiple digital media platforms.

    As an aspiring school leader, I think Dr. Cook's blog attests to where we are headed as a profession in terms of branding, controlling our school's narratives, and generally communicating to the various stakeholders of our schools. I look at Dr. Cook as a school leader who exemplifies what it means to be a leader in the 21st century. Not only does he discuss the salient practices of good teaching and leadership, he is embodying these practices through his own participation in blogging. I recently came across an article from Education Week discussing a principal in Burlington Public Schools in Massachusetts who not only advocates for his teachers to integrate technology, but also, uses blogging and tweeting to develop his PLN while identifying best practices. In doing so, this principal controls his school's narrative, accentuating the positives while covertly branding his school. Check out this article below:

    https://www.edweek.org/dd/articles/2013/02/06/02leaders.h06.html

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    Replies
    1. Steven,
      Thanks for sharing that fascinating article. Dr. Cook stated that he has "learned more from his personal learning network than he ever learned getting his doctorate or during his first and second years as a principal." That is an extremely powerful statement. As we grow our PLNs, we are putting ourselves in position to make better decisions even if we don't have the "experience" of others.

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  2. Hi Ralph, I agree that the idea of blogging daily sounds exhausting, but if it becomes part of a regimen of daily reflection, it might not be so bad. Most of my reflection is done while driving. On the way in I think about what needs to be done, how will I do it, and what obstacles are in my way. On the way home, it's usually, how did I do with accomplishing what I wanted, what made me frustrated, and how can I handle it differently or improve? However, blogging gives us a way to do that but with a chance of someone providing feedback. We don't always get a chance in our day to be reflective with another person, which in my opinion, is priceless, espeically for me. Blogging is an easy way to share ideas. With that said, while reading through our learning module this week on getting students to blog what stood out to me was when Lyn wrote, "Yes, blogging is about writing. But even more so, blogging is about READING! " We know that blogging is reflective, but it's hard to start there with students. If we look at blogging as a way of getting our students to write, read, and respond to each other, the reflective nature will come naturally. I believe getting our students to blog will give them the 21st century global skills that we keep saying that our students need.
    For us to get them to blog, we need to be examples ourselves.

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    Replies
    1. Laurie,
      I have a forty minute commute and I have found it a great time to decompress and reflect. Lyn's tidbit that you shared has resonated with me as well. I've read more blogs over the past three weeks than I had in my entire career. I think we do have to make it apart of our daily regimen. I have added several links to my bookmark bar in Chrome and it seems to grow every unit. Tweetdeck and Blogger have moved their way up to the front as a reminder.

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    2. All of these comments make me happy :)

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