Thursday, June 10, 2010

Professional Development & Social Networking

My blog was born on January 6, 2010. Today is June 10, 2010.

In 5 months, my blog has:
  • Over 20,000 visits
  • Over 11,000 unique visitors
  • Over 33,000 page visits
I have to admit I am more than happy to see these kinds of numbers, but I do have a grander purpose for sharing this with you than just boasting.

If you are a progressive educator who advocates for education reform and changes to the traditional model of school, there is a good chance that you may be in the minority in your school. In fact, you may find yourself being the only one...

This can be both challenging and lonely.

I can only imagine the number of teachers who have had their progressive voices shushed or outright silenced. Being an agent of change can be challenging enough, but doing it alone may verge on the impossible.

Often having even one like-minded person to share your thoughts and feelings can help you persevere through opposing adversity, but what if there isn't even one like-minded person to be found?

This is why the Internet and social networking has proven to be so liberating - the world is a big place and there is a good chance that somewhere out there like-minded people exist. Twitter, Facebook, blogging, nings and other forms of social networking provide us with an unprecedented ability to find them... from any where in the world. Time and place are rendered obsolete.

While I would never suggest virtual relationships can or should ever replace our physical ones, we are no longer bound to only our locals. When colleagues in the "real world" no longer provide the like-minded support that we desire, we can look to colleagues in the virtual world.

In the spirit of networking, please consider taking a minute to leave a comment:
  • Feel free to remain anonymous
  • Why do you visit this blog?
  • Where in the world are you from?

28 comments:

  1. First off, I visit this blog because I am one of the like minded. I agree with your ideas and receive motivation from the blog posts.
    It has been a bumpy ride over the years - I teach a 3-4-5 Multi-age class in Southern California. The top down, close minded approach that has become the norm in our school district - has also shifted my reputation from creative, caring teacher to rebellious outcast.
    You are correct in stating that the virtual world can and has become a place to find others that help to remind me that it is all about the kids.

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  2. I visit this blog because I am disenchanted with the education system in Australia, and find it incredibly difficult to find people who share my passion for change.

    If it was not for the Internet and blogs such as this, I would most likely feel my ideas are as misguided as my fellow teachers tell me they are, and lose hope for change.

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  3. I found your blog through someone in my PLN. I enjoy hearing about the progressive things happening in Alberta. I also enjoy reading your perspective on grades and testing, as I work through my own beliefs on education. I teach in Washington DC. Keep up the great work!

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  4. For me, this whole blogging thing has been very therapeutic.

    I'm excited everyday to share ideas with other professionals.

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  5. I really enjoy your writing style and I am glad I found your blog! It is very inspiring. :)

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  6. Currently teaching at an American International school in Seoul, Korea. Book learning is an expectation here and I'm enjoying reading about like minded attitudes and topics. Ideas I'd like to share are written more clearly than I have time to do myself. This allows me to share ideas I agree with easily.
    As a former Alberta teacher it is also great to hear about the positive directions Alta Ed is taking. Keep it up.

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  7. I visit this blog because it helps keep me sane. Like the anonymous Australian, I'm regularly told that my ideas are too radical, that they could never work. Blogs like yours not only inspire me to keep fighting, but also give me more ammunition to say, "Oh yeah?! Explain how Joe and others manage to make it work." Unfortunately, that usually just leaves critics shaking their heads, still in denial, still thinking their way must be the best, or at least the only way possible. I have to hope though, that as they walk away, the ideas start to settle in.

    I'm in Michigan in the USA, and thanks to folks like you, I'm still fighting for what I feel is right.

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  8. Hi!
    I've only just started following your blog as of yesterday or the day before. I started following as I'm currently studying a Masters of Teaching with no prior teaching experience (undergrad in Arts), in Australia, and my tutors pointed me to Alfie Kohn, alternative/negotiated curriculum (Garth Boomer and everyone else, don't know if you're familar), etc.
    After my first fortnight of rounds (just observing) I was so down about how the system was being run and how disengaged the students were that I thought I was going to drown... what I've learned since is keeping me afloat, and I need to hear it's working, and that things can change!

    So hello, Anonymous in Australia, you're not alone, even if I'm not teaching yet...

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  9. Congrats! You are a very positive and proactive teacher... inspiring! I often find myself here after following a link on one of your tweets.

    I enjoy your writing and your ideas about teaching. Thanks and keep it up.

    I'm from New Hampshire, USA

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  10. Congrats on your achievement. You have important things to say and you say them well.I blundered upon your blog from twitter. Keep up the good work. It may seem lonely but it has to be said.

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  11. Hello Joe, I visit your blog because it speaks to me in terms that are relevant to what i'm experiencing in my school division. I feel a tangible sense of change in what i''m doing, and that is inspiring to link to in your writing. Reading your words gives me one of many Internet links to the feelings I have and work toward in education. Thanks for sharing each day!

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  12. You are prolific and I like that you have exposed me to the ideas of others over this past while. It is this connectedness and reenforcement that creates the energy driving us all.

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  13. I stumbled on your blog through Twitter, and kept reading because I like the way you think. I often agree with you, sometimes disagree, but you always give me something to ponder or research further. There is so much negativity on education in politics and on the web; it is refreshing to connect with others who have positive ideas for change.

    I'm a teacher in Valencia, CA. You won't always see my visits in your numbers because I have you in my reader.

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  14. Hi Joe. I'm a preschool teacher at a progressive school community in Sydney Australia. I started my blog because it is difficult to find other teachers (apart from those I work with of course) at progressive preschools / schools. I am also really worried about what is happening with our education system over here with standardised testing and the like.

    I always enjoy your blog because you post about the things I am interested in learning more about.

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  15. Oh, and this one is for Em in Australia who posted a comment above: there are alternative and progressive schools in Australia doing amazing things - You just have to hunt them out! I found out about our school when I was at uni, and now my boys go there and I teach there :)

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  16. Hi I'm also from Australia and I wish I knew who anonymous was! I want to say that I am sure that by connecting and collaborating through blogging we will create change. I too have been blogging since January and I do it because reading and reflecting on my teaching improves it. Sharing my thoughts and ideas makes me feel good and I know the more I do, the more I am growing as a teacher and a learner.

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  17. I'm in Australia too. My wife is a university lecturer; I'm supervising our now teenage son's education at home, so I no longer have the involvement with school that I've had in the past. But I'm interested in reading about a wide range of educational ideas, including from blogs written by school teachers - such is the way of the internet I guess. :-)

    I don't recall now how I discovered this blog, probably one particular post caught my eye. I like reading this blog as a counterpoint to the many somewhat black and white "school totally sucks and there's nothing anybody can do about it" opinions that I also read. Actually, it's one of my favourite blogs of all the many I follow.

    To be honest, I'm happy my own son is out of school but I still wish you every success. If every school in the world had at least one Joe Bower, the world would be a much better place.

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  18. I'm from Spain.I visit your blog because I'm interested in reading and learning about education. I like the optimism and the energy when you write about this topics. I learn englihs too, because I don't speak english. Sorry for my english. Soy de Toledo,(España). Leo tu blog porque me interesa la educación, aprender y sabes qué pasa en otros lugares. Me gusta el optimismo y la energía con lo que escribes sobre la educación, la enseñanza, el aprendizaje, las calificaciones, etc. Gracias.

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  19. I'm from Calgary and am running for trustee this fall. I started reading your blog before I even considered running for trustee because I've been very interested in education for a few years now. In school, I was one of those perfect academic students that all the teachers love, and I am realizing now, how it all failed me. I think back to those 13 years in the public system and 5 years of university and wonder how much more I could have really learned, and where I would be now, if the system hadn't been holding me back. I was spending all my time jumping through the hoops and I honestly don't remember much of what was taught.
    I want to thank you for starting this blog and for being so diligent about it. I don't know where you find the time! You are making a big difference in the lives of parents, teachers and students around the world. Congratulations for being an example of how the best work isn't done for tangible rewards (although you may want to think about writing a book one day!).
    One last thing, can you please start writing for the Calgary Herald so that they will stop printing people like Michael Zwaagstra? It would be really helpful if your message was printed in mainstream media as well. Thanks again!

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  20. From Toronto, and I don't even remember how I found your blog, though it might have been a link on #edchat.
    I enjoy the clear writing style, and topics that provide serious food for thought.

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  21. Joe,

    I visit because you write interesting posts and becaus you hit the nail on the head so often. I have colleagues on-line who are in my camp/get it! I want to have a PLN on-line. I am just beginning to know how great that is. I would love people to know and read my thoughts but I would do it anyway if no one read it. I have ablog post explaining why I thinks it is great, regardless of readership. writing posts makes me have something to say, in general that means learning!

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  22. Hey Joe! I have your blog in my google reader and I try to keep up with reading your thoughts. Why? I know few people who challenge the status quo like you do and not only talk the talk. You provide thoughts on things like assessment, learning, and motivation that pushes me as an educator. I teach in Agassiz BC.

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  23. Hi Joe!

    I actually just discovered this blog today - congrats on your traffic! I work for a professional organization for educators and am always on the lookout for new and interesting content and ideas. I'm in Raleigh, NC USA

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  24. I read your posts because you're a logical, driven and insightful educator. Your ideas often stimulate discussion during lunch breaks and you often cause me to say "What if...?" about my own teaching style.

    I'm in the U.S.

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  25. Thank you to all who commented. If you are just reading this now, keep in mind that comments are always welcome, regardless of the timing.

    It's great to see so many people interested in education.

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  26. I will blog-roll you can continue to read your posts because as a student who recently graduated from this authoritarian system, it's comforting to know that teachers also genuinely aim to change things and truly understand the problems. Only four of all the teachers I've known *kind of* understand what's really wrong, and as a result they operate their classes differently, but the rest are too tired, intimidated, or comfortable to do anything about this. Feeling that they didn't get it made me feel that learner-centered reform was impossible. One elementary school teacher from a school I tutored at even said, "I know they hate these tests, but they have to do it and it's the best thing for them." The teacher I served said at the end of the year about her 2nd graders, "It was a rough year, but we made it. And more importantly they did good on their tests, because that's what's important right?" In the following awkward silence she gave me a pleading look, "Right?"

    "...Yeah." Then she smiled.

    You're one of the few teachers that gets what learning is really about, and that gives me some hope.

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  27. I will blog-roll you can continue to read your posts because as a student who recently graduated from this authoritarian system, it's comforting to know that teachers also genuinely aim to change things and truly understand the problems. Only four of all the teachers I've known *kind of* understand what's really wrong, and as a result they operate their classes differently, but the rest are too tired, intimidated, or comfortable to do anything about this. Feeling that they didn't get it made me feel that learner-centered reform was impossible. One elementary school teacher from a school I tutored at even said, "I know they hate these tests, but they have to do it and it's the best thing for them." The teacher I served said at the end of the year about her 2nd graders, "It was a rough year, but we made it. And more importantly they did good on their tests, because that's what's important right?" In the following awkward silence she gave me a pleading look, "Right?"

    "...Yeah." Then she smiled.

    You're one of the few teachers that gets what learning is really about, and that gives me some hope.

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  28. Yes! Nail on the head again. The feeling of isolation can be discouraging when you have educational philosophies that are so radically different than everyone around you. I have received the most awesome support from my like-minded tribe on Twitter and feel stronger in my convictions because of that. Being surrounded and supported has helped me stay true to my beliefs.

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