So says the author of a recent story in US News & World Report, which prominently featured sixth grade teacher Bill Ferriter, whose widely read blog The Tempered Radical is hosted here on the Teacher Leaders Network website.
The US News story is headlined “Blogging from the Classroom, Teachers Seek Influence, Risk Trouble.” In it, reporter Eddy Ramirez wrote:
Although generally dismissed by school administrators as “faculty bathroom graffiti,” teacher blogs, including those that are written anonymously, are becoming essential reading for anyone who wants to look beyond standardized test score reports to see what’s really going on in schools.
In its Web Watch column, Education Week referred to this phenomenon as “The Rise of Teacher Bloggers.” We’d also describe it as one important factor in the rise of teacher leadership on the American scene. With the emergence of the blogosphere, teachers with smart ideas and a little gumption no longer have to seek permission from higher-ups to have a voice about teaching practice, school management or education policy.
We’re proud of TLN’s role in promoting the idea that teacher bloggers have on-the-ground knowledge and understanding worth paying attention to. It’s true that web watchers must sort through the blogpile to discover teachers who are not just disgruntled but write from a vision of what could be. But that’s the case in every professional sector where blogging is prevalent (and is there a sector these days where blogging is not?).
Currently, TLN supports six teacher-authors who include the TLN logo on their blogs. Here on our website, Ferriter is joined by Nancy Flanagan, Renee Moore and Ariel Sacks, who have all earned national recognition for their insights and authentic voices. The same can also be said for Anthony Cody and Susan Graham, who blog at the Teacher Magazine website under the TLN “brand.”
In addition, our TLN Teacher Voices community blog features dialog excerpts from the ongoing daily discussions of our national virtual community of expert teachers. The nearly 300 excerpts posted thus far represent one of the largest samples of thoughtful teacher opinion about practice and policy available anywhere on the World Wide Web.
Not long ago we received this note from the director of a prominent national education coalition: “It’s clear that the TLN bloggers are making some of the most substantial contributions to the blogosphere. They write with more perspective and much less ego than so many of the think tank bloggers.”
Bill Ferriter said this to the US News reporter: “”I’ve learned how to represent the challenges of teaching in a way that has resonance but that doesn’t necessarily turn policymakers off. I don’t want to burn any bridges.”
Perhaps what we are experiencing is not so much a Rising as a Maturing. The best teacher bloggers are no longer satisfied to simply vent their frustrations about misguided education policies. They’re ready to openly talk about the complexities of teaching and learning. They’re ready to risk putting their own ideas and solutions on the policy table.