Monday, November 28, 2005
Spaces for professional learning can be hard to come by, and even then they are often subjected to external mandates, guidelines and parameters.
One example of this that I experienced recently was the VIT portfolio process for beginning teachers. I found myself constantly frustrated by the externally imposed measures, proformas and requirements. This was supposed to be about reflection, about thinking and writing about professional identity and learning, and yet the writing that needed to be produced had to be a certain structure, shape… even genre.
On top of this was the added pressure of assessment. I had to produce something that was going to be used to confirm my status as an accepted member of the profession. Suffice to say, moving beyond the mandated parameters of the task- attempting to write on the boundary of something that my school would be happy with, and that I was happy with- was not without risk.
During this experience, and after it, I found myself looking for alternative spaces to write about my teaching and learning. Blogging was one of those spaces. I was resistant to the idea of blogging at first. I read and loitered on the blogs of my friends and colleagues, but was reluctant to begin my own. “Why bother?”, I thought. I have email as a writing space to explore my professional identity. I have a number of communities that I already tap into. With email, I have a relatively captive audience- people who would actually write back (well, it is the polite thing to do). In blogging, there is no guarantee of that. You don’t know who’s reading. You don’t know if anyone is reading.
Blogging seemed to carry a certain degree of risk. It involved stepping out into a newly created digital space and inhabiting it, making it my own. It involved trust- trusting an unknown audience to read, and not to ridicule. Even though I was putting a digital representation of myself out into cyberspace, it also involved a certain amount of secrecy. I chose not to reveal my name, and I only let a few people know about my blog. I was reluctant to let go of at least the illusion of control over my space.