Teacher Leadership Programme - social media, blogs, and videos
Professional Learning has changed over the years, educators are increasingly moving online to seek out sources to develop their knowledge and skills. There is a wealth of valuable discussion to be found in the online landscape.
Education Scotland’s Teacher Leadership Programme is an enquiry based programme that offers a blended style of delivery; online and face-to-face. Participants set up a reflective journal through Glow Blogs where they complete online tasks. One of the advantages of this is that participants have the unique opportunity to network and collaborate with peers across Scotland in the comments section.
The purpose and importance of commenting on each other’s blogs is that they are supposed to add value to the learning by challenging and supporting the recipient. Consequently the style and content of comment written should be given appropriate consideration. However the skill to produce a relevant and impactful comment is one that needs to be developed with practice. Most educators do this daily with their learners but may not have explicitly done this as part of their own learning journey. Therefore, the Programme Leads on the Teacher Leadership Programme have produced a guide to facilitate the professional dialogue in the comments section:
- Comment early and often
- Write coherently and professionally - Whether you agree or not, put your point across for the person to consider or discuss further.
- Share examples of practice and helpful links
- Provide praise where it is due
- Respectively disagree - see more about this in the ‘types of comments’ section.
- Write with personality - even though you are utilising an online space this doesn’t mean that meaningful connections and professional relationships cannot be established.
- Ask questions - this is the best way to understand someone’s point of view, especially in an online space where there is no tone or expression to aid the comments, it can be easy to jump to conclusions.
- Reply to comments, if appropriate - commenting should mutually benefit the commenter and the author’s professional learning. One off comments are necessary at times but engaging in a dialogue can lead to much richer learning.
- Summarising can be useful but it is not helpful to simply repeat back what the post has said, this doesn’t add to the learning experience
- Disclose personal information that could lead to the identification of a colleague or pupil
- Comment without reading the whole post
- Dominate a comment thread
- Excessively use acronyms, shorthand or jargon
Types of Comment:
Your prior knowledge and experience will be a determining factor in your opinion of the piece, and therefore will also impact on the type of comment you wish to add. The following are five types of comment mainly used on the Teacher Leadership Programme.
You can focus on the author, the post itself, or a combination of the two.
If you choose to focus on the post itself, talk about a particular point within the post that truly hit home for you. Did it change your outlook on a topic? Or maybe it motivated you to take action?
Linking comments are normally used for two purposes:
- To link the author to further reading or materials that would support their learning. You are not expected to include references in your postings, however, if you do cite work from a source you should provide a simple reference or link to enable others to locate the source, should they wish to do so.
- To share your own experience and how it was similar or different to that of the author.
An important part of the Teacher Leadership Programme is being open minded to new perspectives and ideas, however if you disagree with someone then you also need to be able to effectively communicate this. Disagreement can be a trigger of great reflection and an added perspective, as long as it is done respectfully.
If you are going to challenge someone it can be useful to begin with an encouraging comment about something you enjoyed/gained from/agreed with in the post. Using language like ‘however’, ‘on the other hand’, ‘conversely’ can help lead into your challenging point.
When you are in disagreement, it is very important that you challenge the idea and not the person. This helps to focus the discussion on the learning and prevents it from becoming personal.
There are some issues that people feel very passionately about and may never agree on. It is important that you acknowledge this in the final comment and end the discussion in a courteous tone. Something along the lines of ‘we will have to respectfully disagree on that one- thanks for the interesting discussion’ would work.
It is important that you know when to seek advice if you think a discussion is becoming disrespectful.
Clarifying and Extending:
- Clarifying comments are used to check your understanding of the author’s points. This can be done through summarising your understanding or asking questions.
- Extending comments are used to add to the discussion. This can also be done through asking questions or making statements that lead the author to consider new ideas. Such as:
- Have you ever thought of…?
- It may be useful to consider…