I was reading blogs last night when I noticed an item on Twitter posted from Shanghai. Jeff Utecht, the person that posted on Twitter, owns a blog called The Thinking Stick. I follow him on my Twitter account. So when he mentioned a blog called The Struth I had to take a look. The blog is written by a school administrator that works in Bangkok, Thailand. The Struth was created after it’s owner attended the Learning 2.0 Conference in Shanghai last week. His first entry on the connection between the Human Resourses departments in schools and blogging certainly got my attention! When you read his blog you will find he is articulate and insightful. As Jeff said in his Twitter entry, he is “quick to get it”.
I am a retired educator. My husband and I lived in a goldfish bowl for 31 years. We were careful what we said in public. Our political opinions were our own and we did not share them with outsiders. We washed our car, kept our front lawn mowed and never, never talked about other people in our community unless it was a positive comment. We knew that in our little world we were part of the “show” and people paid attention to what we did.
When I began blogging last year, 10 years after we had retired, I did not hesitate to express my opinions. I have written stories about things that happen to me. I talked about drinking wine. But most of all I let you know what I feel about politics and the connection to religious beliefs. I have nothing to fear but being “flamed” and maybe a comment from a close friend. I don’t look for a job or need approval from employers or school boards. So I blog with reckless abandon.
When I read The Struth, blog I came to realize what a “gold fish bowl” educators are living in when they blog. The world community has become so small. When they write and publish with their own name on line, they might as well live next door to every school board member, school administrator and public patron in the world. They are putting thoughts, opinions, writing skills, philosophies and personalities on view for everyone to see.
Future employers can and should reading these blogs. It could be that the first pre-interview question they ask is “Do you own a blog?” They then could be making judgements on the writer’s “job worthiness” based on what they read. They might even be basing merit pay on what you reveal in your blogs. Educators can not hide out anymore. In fact they are even more on exhibition than we were in our very small community of 10,000 in eastern Oregon.
When we talk about a double edged sword we don’t say how sharp the edge might be. I am saying that, in this case, teachers, administrators and their partners need to pay attention. The edge is very, very sharp. If you think your blog is noteworthy, you do your research and think your opinions through, use your own name and publish your wondrous skills. If you are just beginning and need time to hone your writing and thinking skills, do so with a pen name, for a while at least. At the very least keep two blogs; one for personal use and one for professional viewing.
So while this may be one of the most exiting times in the education career field, we are becoming more and more transparent. People can, if we let them, know what you think and even feel. Everyone needs to “keep the front lawn mowed” and “wash their cars” because, as the metaphor suggests, “everyone is watching”.
Educators, have a great weekend. Blogging is fun but be sure to cross you ‘t’s‘ and ‘dot your i’s‘, check the spelling, get rid of the run on sentences and play it close to the vest. In other words, be careful.