We might not knowingly think of the specific terms purpose and audience when we sit down to write something, but the odds are high that we have thought about them. Writing, in its simplest terms, boils down to 1. why we are writing and 2. for whom. A grocery list scribbled on a scrap piece of paper for ourselves so we remember what we need to pick up…. A formal cover letter to a potential employer with whom we hope to have an interview. Purpose and audience. It’s what we teach students in our English classes.
As I thought about starting this blog about teaching, I wanted to make sure I identified both my purpose and my audience. I figured if I couldn’t do that, I probably shouldn’t be writing a blog. And I decided I should identify both early on in our reader-writer relationship. I like to be upfront about things and wanted you to know what you are getting into…If it doesn’t seem like a good fit for you, get out of this blog relationship now. I don’t want to see you involved in a relationship that isn’t what you were expecting, that doesn’t meet your needs….
So, why am I writing a blog about teaching? What is my purpose?
My purpose is to engage in an ongoing, casual conversation with others who want to spend some of their free time “talking” and thinking about teaching-related topics.
The clock- understandably- dictates so much of what we do. Our school days and academic years are full. We have conversations during team-level meetings, department meetings, faculty meetings, district-wide meetings, committee meetings….during our professional development…. between classes…. in the hall in line while waiting to use the bathroom…
I have found that so many of those important conversations that take place are rushed or go unfinished.; they are often short-changed, forgotten. My hope is that this blog is a continuation of those conversations, that it provides a place to read about and reflect on teaching topics at your convenience…. Whether it is at 2:00 a.m. when you are up with the baby or at the end of a long week and wonder if you are the only one who has ever felt a particular way…. Excited, nervous, inspired, frustrated.. You decide when and if you read. In case you didn’t notice, I can be wordy. Maybe the blog posts are too long for your needs (though, rest assured, there will be shorter posts too– especially once the school year begins again). Maybe only a few of the topics will be of interest or relevant to you…. Maybe you will sign up to follow the blog or just bookmark it so you can check back from time to time if you happen to think of it. Maybe you will want to contribute to the conversation with a comment sporadically.
My purpose is to share observations, thoughts, and ideas about teaching.
I have learned a lot over the years. I have made mistakes and learned from them. I have evolved, have grown in all aspects of teaching…. How I think about teaching…. How I interact with students….How I deliver the curriculum…. How I assess…..How I contribute to my school community as a professional…
I want to strike a balance between philosophical and practical topics. I think it is essential to include both. As I mentioned in my previous post about having a philosophy of education, it has a direct impact on what you are doing in your classroom every day.
My purpose is to share my passion for teaching.
My passion for helping students be their best is what motivates me to be my best. I get excited by exchanging ideas and philosophies with others, by hearing why they think what they think, by getting an idea from a colleague or from a conference, or from a student. I don’t have all the answers, because everyone thinks differently, but I know what has worked for me and what hasn’t worked for me and they are often things that have worked for someone else. That is the great thing about teaching; we are all different and bring those differences – including our passions- to our students.
My purpose is to continue to reflect on my own teaching.
By thinking and writing about a variety of teaching topics- even ones I have thought about many times- I continue to grow as a teacher. I am reminded about why I think the way I do. I determine if my thoughts about a particular issue have changed and consider possible changes to my approach. What might have worked for me at one point in my career might not work anymore. Reflecting helps me see what I need to change…..
Who are my readers, my audience?
I am guessing that those who will most likely want to read a blog about teaching are those in the educational trenches… Fellow educators are really my intended primary audience.
- Faculty/Classroom Teachers
- Some may be at the very beginning of their careers or even thinking about it as a possible career.
- Some may have years of teaching experience or are even near retirement.
- Some may be retired and are still interested in reflecting on the work they did for years.
- Whether you are standing in front of the classroom or have a quiet, behind-the-scenes role, some of the topics about which I will write will be relevant for anyone in the school community. Teaching is a team effort and it is helpful for everyone to reflect on an array of topics through their various lenses and roles.
- Most administrators are former classroom teachers and will readily identify with many of the topics in this blog.
- Although administrators remember their experiences in the classroom and know the challenges that teachers face, things change very quickly in education. Reading about topics from current teachers’ perspectives can be helpful.
- While there are differences between the roles that teachers and administrators play, it is a best practice for everyone to reflect on both philosophical and practical matters.
Although the stakeholders are not my primary audience, there is a chance they may come across this or another blog about teaching. I would encourage them to read along.
- It may be unlikely that students would be interested in a blog about teaching, but maybe they will come across a topic that interests them. Although they are not the primary audience for whom I am writing, I am writing about them and about topics that help us be our best for them. I would gladly invite them to read this blog so they can understand the variables that influence what we do and how we do it. Students understandably do not know the many factors that influence our curriculum, our instructional approaches…. Reading this blog might give them a different perspective.
- Community Members(such as parents, members of the School Board, local business owners, tax payers, etc.)
- Again, not the intended audience, but the reality is that this blog is out there for anyone to read. Whether it is a parent, a School Board member, or a local business owner, it really does take a village to raise a child. The more community members understand about the educators who work with their kids, the more they can work together as a team to best serve the children of the community.
I appreciate your taking the time to understand why I am writing this blog and for whom. I value your time, and I hope you feel that the time you spend reading a post is worthwhile, that it leaves you thinking about what matters to you as a teacher or leaves you thinking about strategies, ideas…. something that has a direct benefit to you as a teacher.
To that point, I plan to end each blog post with “Food For Thought,” questions for you to ask yourself. My hope in doing so is that you will find something valuable that can help you in some way– philosophically or practically– as a teacher.
Food For Thought:
- What teaching topics do you think about on the ride into or home from work?
- Can you think of a specific conversation that you had with a colleague that changed your thinking or was especially meaningful/helpful?
- What have you always wanted to discuss with one or more colleagues but have not had the opportunity to do so?
- What part of teaching are you most passionate about?