Few situations are as intimidating as that of the new teacher. If the long hours and unfamiliar territory don’t get you, then the second-guessing, nagging doubts, and those “I’m-not-getting-through-to-these-kids-blues” just might.
Weblogging, or “blogging” as it’s commonly known, however, can help smooth the isolating journey into the unknown that most first-year teachers experience. It has fast become a way of collaborating, mentoring, trading ideas and resources, as well as sharing personal stories of classroom failures and victories both great and small.
“Many teaching blogs are thoughtful and insightful, written with an immediacy that provides a unique view of the profession, and for their efforts, their authors say they receive encouragement to push through difficult times,” writes TEACHER MAGAZINE’s Mark Toner in an October 2003 feature story. Toner highlights the experience of two new public school teachers who maintained blogs throughout their first year in the classroom. Both teachers found maintaining the blogs a valuable way to “connect with others in the same predicament.”
In fact, Jeanne Edna Thelwell’s blog is now something of a holy grail to first-year teachers in New York City. As a graduate of the New York City Teaching Fellows program, Thelwell learned that her blog--an account of her first year in the program-- was being passed among the most recent crop of inductees. Along with messages of thanks and appreciation, one program Fellow wrote that Thelwell’s blog “is to new Fellows what ‘Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret,’ is to prepubescent girls.”
Because blogs let users collaborate outside of the busy classroom, they can be of great success as a teacher-mentoring tool. Veteran teacher and mentor Pam Pritchard used a blog to work with the first-year teacher she was mentoring. The medium allowed them to converse, reflect, and plan for upcoming assignments and peer assessments at convenient times.
The dialogue in their shared blog is both formal and informal; often an encouraging message of confidence is included among more formal instruction and guidance for an upcoming test or assessment. The fact that blogs can extend over state and national borders is an added advantage.
There may be no guaranteed roadmap to success for a new teacher, but there are ways to make the journey less harrowing. Educator and I.T. Supervisor at Hunterdon Central Regional High School(N.J.) Will Richardson told “Information Today Inc.,” “In fast-growing numbers, educators across the country and throughout the world are finding just how powerful this new interactive Internet [blogs] can be.”
Education blogs enable colleagues to exchange the ideas of their profession without constraint and help first-year teachers cope with what is known to be a very isolating experience. Could there be a blog in your future?