As the end of the academic year draws to a close, I thought now would be the perfect opportunity to post about my experience as a ‘blogger’. As the new blogging system was introduced to us in September, I have now been blogging for a whole academic year! It is very rewarding to see how engagement with different social media platforms has had a beneficial impact on my academic writing and my confidence in networking in the professional world.
Prior to the new system, we were asked to set-up an e-portfolio where we uploaded our responses to tutor directed tasks and recorded our goals and progression. In certain modules the e-portfolio was integral to our assessment and it was also University expectation that as emerging professionals, we should upload evidence of our learning. However, the e-portfolio provided little opportunity to interact, share and provide feedback and as a consequence, I did not have much motivation to engage with the platform – an opinion that I shared with many of my peers.
Luckily the Glow blogs system was introduced to us in September 2015 and while I was reluctant at first, I feel like I have engaged well with my blog and more importantly I have experienced the beneficial nature that is reflected in my academic writing and increased confidence in myself.
Criticality in Academic Writing
One aspect of academic writing that I was struggling with in almost every submission last year was my ability to think critically in my writing. In worst cases, I was regurgitating the opinions of others and as a consequence, hindering my ability to make professional judgements and extend my learning further. I believe my blog has provided me with a platform where I can express my opinions critically in a non-formal tone and this ability has grown the more I have posted. Now my assignment feedback comments on my ability to write critically in a positive way, highlighting it as a strength within my writing and I doubt this would be the case had I not used my blog as a facilitator for this purpose.
Academic Reading… for Enjoyment?
Another aspect I found particularly challenging in first year was engaging with academic reading. Although I engaged with the recommended reading and opened the books necessary to complete my assignments, I rarely found motivation to read academic literature that extended beyond module content. Now I frequently find myself reading journal articles and online resources surrounding my topics of interest, particularly modern foreign language, literacy, communication and health and wellbeing. I have also noticed how much easier I find reading these challenging articles, especially policy documents, which is obviously key to becoming a teaching professional.
In addition to increased engagement with academic reading, I have joined various social media platforms, including Pinterest and Instagram, and these are giving me more insight into innovative practice.
As a relatively quiet individual, I often struggle to speak up in lectures and tutorials. Initially I made it my goal to express myself in inputs however due to my introverted nature I found it impossible to speak up, even when I was confident in my understanding. In worst cases, I found myself avoiding inputs because I knew the lecturer liked to pick on random individuals in the lecture theatre. However some lecturers allowed hands up, used social media as a means of gaining responses and others kinaesthetic props to respond, which I found very useful. These methods are something I will consider in my own teaching practice for pupils who struggle in large group scenarios.
While my blog has not altered how I feel in lectures, it has provided me with a platform where I feel comfortable expressing myself and communicating with other professionals.
I set up Twitter in September after feeling very reluctant about professional social media. I am very glad I joined as I have received some fantastic feedback from a variety of professionals across the teaching profession including students from other Universities, teachers across Scotland, recognition from members of the GTCS and companies who aim to support Education by providing workshops and resources. Without Twitter and my blog I would not have made these contacts and benefitted from social networking.
I would now encourage every trainee teacher to engage in some form of professional social networking, particularly blogging, in order to support and enhance his or her professional development. Without this platform I would still be trying to overcome these barriers which would be detrimental for my Honours years. Furthermore this blog will also stand me in good stead for providing evidence for my GTCS registration and updates in the years to come.