I am approaching my one year anniversary of being a part of a Principal Blogging Project sponsored by Scott McLeod, then professor at the University of Minnesota, now of Iowa State University. His goal was to increase community communication and involvement in edcuation. He targeted 100 principals to participate and I was one of the lucky volunteers to be selected.
In the year that I have participated, I have learned many things and heard from many people even outside our school itself. This will be my last post for the Owen Overview and I'd like to share some of the things I have learned as a farewell.
1. It's hard to imagine how many different people see what I write and respond. In addition to the Owen parents and staff, one of my former teachers who now works in another school district found me as did one of my college roommates. Since college, I had not talked with either of those people and the blog reconnected us. That was really cool.
2. I can use a slightly different tone in my blog than I can in listserve messages or newsletters. Because I can talk about a wider array of topics, I can be a little more informal and enjoy the voice I was able to use.
3. There are some terribly mean and nasty people out there. I knew that opening this dialogue would lead to people questioning or challenging the things I said and I accepted that before starting. I did not anticipate those who might use my blog to pick a fight or to simply denigrate someone else. Especially troubling were those who chose to comment anonymously and to utter falsehoods while protected by that anonymity. That unwillingness to stand for what they said was the most disappointing and appalling part of the whole process. Dealing with the lies and ad hominem attacks took the focus away from the chance for our community to give direction to our students' education and that was always a disappointment.
4. Despite the negative comments, there were many people who shared great ideas or made suggestions of other things to consider. I truly do appreciate the people who made suggestions for making Owen better and will continue in that effort in all that I do.
5. As a parent, this has led me to worry about my own children using the internet. As a former English teacher and with an LRC director as my wife, we both share concerns about the kind of language you can find on the internet and how reliable anyone can be as a source of information. Blurring the line between parent and principal, I have been thinking about how we incorporate that lesson about source reliability in the lessons we teach at Owen.
With all of that being said, I am not going to stop communicating with our community. I am going to rely more heavily on our listserve and it is my goal to get our listserve participation as close to 100% of the Owen families as is possible. If you'd like to continue to hear about the developments and plans at Owen, please sign up to be a part of our listserve. It takes less than a minute to join and you will receive lots of updates about the goings-on at Owen Elementary. You can go to the Owen Elementary site and click on the blue box with the owl picture in the upper right hand corner of the page. Be sure to sign up for the Owen list and not just the District one.
You can also simply send an email to Owen list sign-up and make sure you reply to the confirmation email that comes to your address.
The Owen Overview is now over. I hope you have enjoyed it. Thanks.