Blogging for Educators
Reviewed by Mary Langer Thompson
Blogging for Educators is a book in the Corwin Connected Educators Series, short books that pack a lot of information in about 50 pages. They are books for busy teachers who want practical information from educator experts, in this case award winning (Bammy Award finalist) Starr Sackstein.
Sackstein teaches high school English and journalism, is the author of Teaching Mythology Exposed: Helping Teachers Create Visionary Classroom Perspective, and blogs for Education Week in addition to having her own blog.
Sharing your voice and your practice
Sackstein does not want teachers to fear technology and wants all teachers to blog. Her encouraging and positive tone is impressive from Chapter One where she gives reasons why all educators should blog. Reflection, personal growth, modeling for students, connection, accountability, publication, and perspective are among the many reasons.
But she admits that change is scary and “it takes guts and bravery” to step out and make your practice public. She wants even the failures of teachers to be looked at and reflected upon in personal blogs and within learning communities. She gives ideas to get the reader started, including the encouraging “Failures that Yielded Growth.”
Almost half the book is a pep talk, and then Sackstein gets technical, telling teachers how to set up a blog with pictures of sites. She discusses blogger programs, the pros and cons of popular blogging platforms, and how to register a domain. She also discusses blogging etiquette.
A few concerns
I applaud Starr Sackstein’s ambition to get everyone on board blogging, but I have some concerns. As a teacher and administrator before blogging became popular, I remember that every teacher letter had to be passed by the principal. Unfortunately, I did not find that all teachers were expert writers, and I think if writing is to be made public and used as a role model for students, then it must be perfect both in content and grammar. Some bloggers ramble, and some teachers don’t live in the healthiest of school cultures, and I can see some problems with content being made public.
Sackstein cautions that teachers should stay appropriate and not rant, but there needs to be some sort of blogging critique group before pressing “publish” because writers can’t always see their own mistakes. She does talk about privacy matters, but I think that her book will best be used by those who love to write and can’t keep themselves from writing and sharing ideas, who begin by guest blogging on other sites and getting feedback from readers and peers, and who really do have the time to keep up the practice.
I recommend the book for educators who already think of themselves as writers and know they want to blog. In addition to reading this book, readers should check out Sackstein’s excellent blog and the elementary, secondary, and sample administrator blogs in her book’s appendix. Above all, before publishing, bloggers should have another good writer look over their work.
Mary Langer Thompson’s articles, short stories, and poetry appear in various journals and anthologies. She is a contributor to The Working Poet (Autumn Press) and Women and Poetry: Tips on Writing, Teaching and Publishing by Successful Women Poets (McFarland). She is a retired school principal and a proud member of the California Writers Club, High Desert Branch. Her first collection of poems, Poems in Water, was published in July of 2014.