Teacher to Teacher
by Teacher2Teacher Team | 05.11.16
Renee Boss has worked as a teacher, consultant and leader at the local, state and national levels in government and nonprofit sectors. She currently lives in Lexington, Ky.
Jamie Ponce is an ELL resource teacher with 12 years of experience. She currently lives in the Chicago, Ill. area. National Blogging Collaborative (NBC) is a free service created for teachers, by teachers in an effort to get more educators contributing their voices to the national education narrative. Renee is an NBC coach.
T2T interviewed Renee and Jamie about blogging and how their NBC partnership started:
Jamie: Being at ECET2 and getting to participate in Connect2Grow gave me the confidence to start writing. Before, I didn’t know what to write about or what I could write about. [The conference] made me think that there was a platform for me and that I had important things to say. I wrote [my] first blog, and Kristen [Bronke, cofounder of NBC] hooked me up with Renee.
The first [ blog post I submitted to NBC ], Renee had so many positive things to say and also constructive criticism to make it better. I was stepping out in another realm. The piece [I wrote] about my son, it took me a long time to show it to anyone. It’s personal and really scary; you don’t know who’s going to read it, or the feedback or response you’re going to get. Now before I post a piece, I send it to Renee. I ask her and say, “I’m having trouble with these sentences, I’ve been looking at it for too long, do only I understand it?”
Originally, I thought I’d want to write about one piece a month. I’m averaging two per month now. It’s been nice for me—I was not a [teaching major] in college. I was an English and Spanish major. It’s brought a lot back for me; I have a notebook now, and it’s nice to get back into the habit of writing. I have more to write about than I thought I did.
Renee: The idea that you have a network of other bloggers who support one another is really uplifting. The network of people I’ve met because other people are blogging–when I put a blog out or tweet a post of someone I’ve worked with, then there’s a whole network of other people who are connected to NBC and reading and sharing. It helps get it out there a little bit bigger and make sure the voices are heard.
Jamie: [The National Blogging Collaborative] has given me a voice. I was feeling left out of the conversation. I didn’t feel like policy makers or administrators were listening to teachers. I felt shutout, not included. It’s really exciting that there’s a way for me to share my ideas and know they’re listening. It’s amazing to see how many people have read your stories.
Renee: The more educators we have blogging, the more chance we have to reclaim the narrative about what people think about teaching. Let’s get the voices out there and let the public know there are teachers working really hard who care about what they’re doing, not just sitting in the teacher’s lounges.
Jamie: What’s also exciting is that you’re connecting with people who are passionate enough about education to take the time to write about it and read about it. It’s a professional learning network filled with people who have the same level of passion for their work that you do and who care about the same things you care about.
Renee and Jamie’s tips for connecting with other educators in the blogosphere:
1. Read blogs and comment on them.
Renee’s insights: Before I started blogging, I spent months working around other blogs, looking at the way people share their voice and what they wrote about, and commenting when appropriate. I think that’s a great way, if you’re not currently blogging, to feel inspired about starting to blog and share your voice. It might be [blogs on] education topics, or it might be a combination of other topics. There’s a lot to be learned from other bloggers.
2. Learn how to use Twitter professionally.
Jamie’s insights: I was using [Twitter] for pop culture and didn’t have any idea what I was doing. After a Connect2Grow session, I changed my profile and filled it with educators and people I wanted to follow. It was amazing how much information was out there that I had no idea was available to me. Now I use Tweetdeck to search hashtags and subjects that interest me. Get connected with someone who has figured [Twitter] out to shorten your learning curve.