I didn’t think parents of my students would ever read my blog. Why would they? And yet, now that I have been blogging for four years I am often amazed at how often the parents of my students actually read what I write. Not just on our classroom blog, but also on this blog; my personal one. While there are many small benefits to this, it has also brought on a sense of responsibility to them. I blog about my thoughts on their children, it is their children who inspire me, it is their children that urge me to change, reflect, and grow.That heightened responsibility of how I represent our classroom and myself is only one of the things that has urged me to continue blogging and sharing. With each of the blogs, there have been many other benefits.
Benefits of a Classroom Blog:
- Parents know what is going on. This is huge! I update regularly with what we are doing, showcasing work through text, photos or video. it gives parents (and the world) a direct view into our classroom.
- Parents know where to find information. Having a child in school can mean a lot of different papers coming home. Now I post everything on our blog for easy reference (even for myself) so it is easy to find.
- Parents know what is coming up. I have a calendar embedded on the side of our blog, this is always updated with deadlines, event information, and if I am out of the room. All parents need to do is look at our calendar to see what is happening.
- Parents can easily ask questions. No longer reliant on a sometimes vague recollection of what actually happened through a tired child, they can see what is happening and then ask about it. Thea, my 5 year old, sometimes has a hazy memory of what she did at school so I love that I know what is happening in her classroom to help me facilitate a conversation.
- Parents know us as a community. Because I get to highlight all of the amazing things we do, parents get a feel for what type of classroom we are. They don’t have to trust me, they can draw their own conclusion.
- Parents can comment. I love when our parents, or others, comment on our classroom website. It makes us excited to see that people are paying attention to the wonderful things happening.
- New parents know what we are about before their children become part of our class. When they google me, my classroom website comes up, what greater peace of mind to a nervous new student(and parents) than seeing some cool things that are happening in the classroom?
- Finally, it becomes one more portal for my students to connect with the world. My students use our blog to post surveys, show off their learning, and connect with others.
Benefit of a Professional Blog:
- Parents know my values. I try to stay nuanced but this blog is my platform for trying to abolish grades, homework, and punishment in the classroom. Parents can read my thoughts behind it and know that they can always start a conversation about it as well. They don’t have to ask my educational philosophy, it is all right here.
- Parents know me personally. I blog very personal stories, such as the premature birth of our daughter or the passing of my grandfather. I put it all out there because it affects the way I teach, parents get to know me in more personal manner than just being a classroom teacher would allow me too.
- Parents feel respected (I hope!). I blog extensively on the importance of bringing parents into the decision making process, as well as listening to them as experts. I hope this gives parents the courage (sometimes) needed to broach even difficult subjects with me.
- Parents see how I represent their children. I try my hardest to represent my students in the most meaningful and real way as possible. When I mess up, I blog about it. When we fail as a class, I blog about it. When we have incredible moments, I blog about it. Parents don’t have to wonder how I feel about their kids or my job, I write about it extensively.
I didn’t set out to blog to create deeper connections, but it happened. When we let parents, and the world in, we show we are unafraid of showing what is happening in our worlds. We show that the time we spend teaching and the time we spend learning is worthwhile. We show the world that what we think and do matters. We give a voice to our students, but also to ourselves. but most importantly, we let parents know that what they think matters too.
cross-posted at pernillesripp.com.
Pernille Ripp is the the author of Passionate Learners – Giving Our Classroom Back to Our Students, creator of Global Read Aloud Project, and co-founder of EdCamp MadWI. She teaches fifth grade in Verona, Wisconsin, and blogs at http://pernillesripp.com.