The classroom is a space where we – teachers and students – are able to constantly engage in conversation. Through these daily classroom interactions, we continuously learn about our students. But some students are not as comfortable opening up to teachers and sharing their ideas in the company of classmates. Students are often hesitant to share their thoughts in fear of other students’ reactions. The persistent fear of making a mistake continues to exist in educational settings today.
For students, needing to ask for help can be embarrassing or uncomfortable. Additionally, interacting with new people can heighten the level of anxiety for the students. This is especially true at the beginning of a new school year. As teachers, we have to find ways to ease this anxiety for our students, helping them feel more comfortable and supported in our classrooms. Connecting with our students on a personal level, showing them that we care about their needs and interests along with their learning can be extremely impactful. I have found blogging to be a great tactic to help form these relationships.
Blogging is an effective way for students and teachers to interact and to begin building a relationship by developing a better understanding of each other. For example, teachers are able to begin the year by having students respond to prompts aimed at learning about their interests, perceived skills, needs, and any other information that may be relevant to the course. Whether this is done in the form of surveys, open discussions, or short informative statements, by having students share their thoughts through written word, you can truly begin to understand your students.
In my Spanish II classroom, I use blogging as a way to learn how students spent their summer, what they are looking forward to in this school year, and how they perceive their language experience last year (what went well and what could have gone better). I find this is a great way to ease into the beginning of the school year, review the language, but most importantly, to find out more about who they are. I leave it open to them to provide information and, as always, there is no need to worry about being 100% grammatically correct. I reassure the students that it’s okay to make mistakes – I simply want to learn about them through their writing. Knowing where the students are coming from, their experiences, interests and concerns, helps me to better plan for our class and, furthermore, I am able to remain observant of how the students are doing throughout the school year. Showing that we as teachers are genuinely interested in them as people, as well as their success in our class, helps students feel valued and empowered.
There are so many positives as a result of blogging, and using blogging in this way can be a valuable learning experience for students and teachers. Provide a prompt, let the students create and share, and you will find the conversation and communication in your classroom begin to flourish, providing a means for you to establish and maintain a supportive and positive relationship. It is the connections established within the walls of the classroom that will help the students grow beyond the class space.