Why school superintendents should blog
Many of us know that the explosion of digital publishing allows educators to share our respective stories. One option that education leaders are using is blogging.
The number of education blogs is quickly expanding. Many superintendents know that publishing a regular blog is a great way to accomplish a variety of communication goals—these include sharing the story, modeling, reflective practices, expanding one’s professional learning network and more.
Here, a few superintendents elaborate on the advantages of blogging.
Sharing a transparent story
School districts have a story. Sure they all have mission and vision statements, but to make those come to life, one can tell stories through blogs.
“Blogging has provided another option to share my experiences with internal and external community members,” says Michael McCormick, superintendent of Val Verde USD in California. “They get a window into my experiences of all aspects of our district and community,” he says.
There is a demand for transparency from our stakeholders, says Superintendent Joe Sanfelippo, of the Fall Creek School District in Wisconsin. “Because blogging pushes my thinking,” he says, “the community gets to see the real-world complexities of decisions we make and initiatives we prioritize.”
Modeling as the lead lifelong learner
Many superintendents embrace blogging as a means to not only talk the talk, but to walk the walk when it comes to being a lifelong learner.
“Modeling self-reflection and sharing stories of success—and failures—in the age of social media are big motivators for me to blog,” says Andrew Schwab, associate superintendent for learning and innovation at Union School District in New Jersey.
Many superintendents appreciate that blogging also models reflective thinking. Schwab feels an obligation to demonstrate continuous learning for his staff and students. “If the only people in the building learning are ages 4 to 18, we are doing it wrong,” he says.
‘Why we are changing education’
Educators have long known that reflective practices correlate to higher-level thinking. Superintendent Pam Gildersleeve-Hernandez, of San Antonio Union School District in California, says blogging is a great way for leaders to increase their own metacognitive development.
“I blog for self-reflection of my current practice and the understanding of why we are changing education,” says Gildersleeve-Hernandez. “As we write, we think differently about what our thoughts are and what direction we’re heading.”
Expanding learning networks
Superintendents need to connect to their stakeholders, but also to the larger world of education leaders and change agents. Blogging expands one’s professional learning network as well, says Val Verde’s McCormick.
“Superintendents have a lot in common,” he says. “They have unique access to their districts, have more contact with stakeholders and are likely to see a bit further into the future of their district’s implementation of current and future initiatives.”
McCormick says this perspective is more powerful when superintendents connect and engage by sharing each other’s reflections through blogging.
Working to stay current and relevant in an ever-changing professional environment can be challenging in terms of time, says San Antonio’s Gildersleeve-Hernandez.
“It’s really an expectation from our communities to speak from a place of experiences and not just observation,” she says. “But when we write for a larger, public audience, we are more thoughtful, creative and articulate.”
Longtime educator Michael Niehoff writes on transformational leadership and professional development.