The process of increasing my technological literacy has been an ongoing journey, yet one I had been resistant to over the years. There had always been someone else who would either do it FOR me or walk me (or carry me) through it.
I recently completed a Principal Development Course with the Ontario Principal’s Council called, “Collaborative Leadership Inquiry/Digital Leadership Portfolio”. This course has allowed me to explore the world of blogging and creating a digital leadership portfolio with other leaders. It supported a safe space for sharing resources and engaging in dialogue about questions we had with the process while considering the responsibilities of our professional practice. In fact, it supported the creation of this blog site for me and my desire to explore more of the digital footprint with other educators at my school and in my learning network.
Tips for blogging
The process of blogging for me is one that speaks to my interest in telling stories. As a storyteller, I enjoy reflecting upon my personal and professional life through story. During the course, we began with reading the following blogs:
These two blogs gave me comfort, as they eased my worries and apprehension about blogging. George Couros states, “Why you aren’t blogging more” is “because you are overthinking” (retrieved Aug. 4, 2017: https://georgecouros.ca/blog/archives/tag/blogging). He continues with a series of questions that speaks to our insecurities and self-doubt related to blogging.
During my relatively short (4 week) journey into blogging at this point…here are some tips for you to consider.
Tip Number One: Be conversational in your blog.
Begin by writing as you would speak to a colleague at work. Reflect and think through the story that you want to tell. Don’t stop. Just write. This enables you to share what is important to you without filters. During blogging you should write about things that matter to you. Write about topics and wondering that support your moral and professional values simultaneously.
Tip Number Two: Professional Context matters.
No matter what profession you belong to there are always mores, tenets, customs and perhaps even, laws that govern the profession. As educators, we are members of the Ontario College of Teachers. We have a duty to uphold the Ethical and Professional Standards of the college. We have a duty to uphold the Education Act which lays the framework for the Board Code of Conduct and numerous other policies and procedures that we live and work by. We also must be cognizant of the laws surrounding confidentiality and privacy (MFIPPA- Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act) when it comes to our work and the information that we store. This information can be via our online presence. After all, as a blogger we can not choose our audience. Even in private forums with a restricted community, others can make your words public. We live in a world where there can be financial repercussions to supporting views online that are not accepted by others. Some repercussions cost the Bill O’Reilly’s and Kathy Griffin’s of the world immediate backlash and some of the repercussions can happen years after the recorded event. Just ask Billy Bush. As a professional in education, we have Ethical Standards and can be reported to the College of Teachers for breaching standards of the teaching profession. As administrators, we can be demoted, disciplined, and/or lose our jobs for our personal practices or behaviours, regardless of whether we get to keep our teaching certificate.
Tip Number Three: Before publishing your blog, reread what you have written. Ensure the sentiment, the values and the message that you intended to give is represented. You may want a trusted critical friend to review the blog before making it public. As educators, we are bound by the Ethical Standards of the Ontario College of Teachers and we work for the government. We have a duty to uphold the standards of our profession.
Tip Number Four: Recognize that you cannot choose your audience. This is significant because, even if you intend to share your blog with educators, parents, students, and community members can be your audience. The media also might take an interest in what a school principal or person of another profession might say or think about a particular issue. Be politically astute and know what issues are relevant in representing your profession and the education field in a positive light. Although some may feel that we lose our authenticity here, we are representing a public institution and need to support the work of that institution as school principals.
With these three tips in mind, write and reflect. It is a tremendous opportunity to share our life work and experiences.
Tip Number Five: Watch Neil Pasricha’s TedTalk about his ‘awesome’ blog.
Tips for building a digital portfolio
Ensure that the pages in your portfolio represent the most current reflection of your achievement and accomplishments. If the portfolio is an extension of your blog, ensure that the mission and value of the organization that you want to be a part of is represented. Be comfortable with the content that is in your portfolio. It is public and can be viewed by colleagues, superiors and community that you serve. My digital portfolio represents the categories that my organization expects to be addressed on resumes. For the Toronto District School Board that means: Equity, Student Achievement, and Well-being. It also means that there needs to be evidence of work that reflects the Ontario Leadership Framework. I look forward to continuing to build my portfolio as the school year gets underway.