On rules for bloggers:
Warlick’s article had a lot of great suggestions for how teachers and librarians can use blogs as a part of instruction. I really liked that he talks about creating a policy that promotes positive uses of blogging rather than focusing on what is prohibited. My feeling is that in general, school districts are so concerned with controlling what is said that anyone with an opinion will go to an anonymous forum to express themselves. I much prefer the idea of encouraging an honest discussion: allowing teachers this forum to reflect on and share their experiences, encouraging them to be open and creative, and making it clear that as long as they are respectful and appropriate, the school will stand behind them.
I think we have a responsibility as librarian bloggers to model good information practices. Link to more information when necessary, encourage comments and discussion around your ideas, and be clear about the line between fact and opinion. The value of blogs is rarely in the provision of factual information – it’s the exchange of ideas and opinions, and getting students ready to understand and participate in it is an awesome step forward from what we all learned in school. I really feel like we as librarians need to make a significant point of discussing credibility with students, and making sure that they can distinguish between facts and opinions. Facts can be checked, and we can give students the tools to do that. Opinions can be a great way to explore a topic, but it requires a very different mentality to navigate, and I think that in the past teachers and librarians skirted around it by just forbidding blogs and wikis as sources. But they can be used responsibly, and we’re getting to the point where they’re not going away, and we really need to teach our students how to use them.
On self-censorship in personal blogs:
I think that what a school would consider “normal” is about the narrowest, most conservative range possible, and I just don’t think it’s right to treat teachers as if they’ve signed away their outside lives. I know that many people disagree with me and say that it’s just the cost of being a professional, but I dislike this, like all forms of censorship, because I feel like it favors a sort of bland, average-of-all-extremes which in no way represents the richness and diversity of the real world. I’m not saying that teachers should expect to rant with impunity, that disrespect is ever cool, or that we should encourage students to access our personal blogs, but we’re not robots – not everything that comes out of our mouths should have to be educational.