Really and truly, there’s not a whole heck of a lot more important to me in my professional life than the people I learn from online every day. That’s why the 7th annual Edublog Awards celebration is so important to me.
It’s my chance to say thank you to people who have changed who I am—as a teacher, as a learner, as a colleague, and as leader—whether they know it or not.
And while my list of people to thank is almost never-ending, I want to keep my nominations list short because it feels more powerful to me that way.
So here’s who I’m nominating.
Best Individual Blog: Teacher in a Strange Land by Nancy Flanagan.
I’m not sure that there’s any one individual who has meant more to me during the course of my professional career than Nancy Flanagan. From my first days in the Teacher Leaders Network, Nancy has been equal parts mentor and inspiration.
As a former Michigan Teacher of the Year, Nancy was—and still is—everything I wanted to be as a teacher leader. She is insightful and incredibly skilled at translating policy into practice.
More importantly, she has an inner confidence in the ability of teachers to lead outside of their classrooms and she has worked tirelessly to show me how to be influential.
Nancy’s blog is almost always a part of my weekly reading and professional growth. In today’s teacher-bashing world, Nancy’s ability to point out the flaws in the plans being put forth by the self-proclaimed Superheroes and Saviors of America’s public schools is refreshing.
And her willingness to speak the truth in the face of powerful propaganda machines is straight up sick-diggity.
The best part of Nancy’s blogging—outside of witty posts that are fun to read—is that she’s starting to draw more and more attention. In fact, she’s becoming a regular on the Washington Post’s pages. That bodes well for those of us hoping to see teacher voice injected into conversations on school reform.
Long story short, Nancy: You rule. I’m incredibly thankful to know you—and to call you a mentor and a friend.
Best New Blog: InterACT by David Cohen and Company
David Cohen is a guy that I’ve known forever but met only once—and what makes him interesting to me is that every time he writes something, I’m forced to stop and think. That’s cool. It’s why I read blogs and join together in digital spaces, after all. I want my thinking to be challenged.
And for years, I pushed David to start writing his own blog. “Your thoughts are awesome, David!” I’d say. “Start posting them publicly, huh? You’ll have a following in no time.”
Well, I got my wish in March of 2010 when David rounded up a bunch of his accomplished California colleagues and started writing about teaching and learning—both in one of the most important states in the country and in a nation divided about how to best ensure student success.
David’s blog—-like Nancy’s—has become one of my regular reads. What I love about it is that it is full of interesting perspectives on educational policy all written by classroom teachers—-and if you know anything about my own personal beliefs, you’ll know that I’d argue against any policy that ignores teacher voice.
Best Group Blog: The Connected Principals
You may have also noticed that I like holding the feet of school principals to the fire. I think that passion started several years back when I had a principal go off on me after I questioned whether or not it was truly possible for one person—especially one person who rarely instructs—to be “the instructional leader” of any building.
Her tirade—bordering on childish hissy-fit—-showed me that for many principals, holding on to the title of “instructional leader” was really more about power and control than it was about leadership.
And from that point forward, I’ve been soured.
That’s why I’m so excited to have stumbled across The Connected Principals blog. Bringing together the thinking of almost 20 incredibly intelligent principals—including my favorites Eric Sheninger, Chris Wejr, Lyn Hilt and George Couros—the Connected Principals blog has almost single-handedly renewed my faith in school leaders.
Their writing is provocative and interesting. It shows a willingness to reflect on practice and to be intellectually vulnerable. In each entry, the connected principals model the very behaviors that instructional leadership relies on—and that’s just plain cool.
Beyond serving as a forum for great conversations, the Connected Principals bloggers serve as role models for their peers—-and that role modeling is much needed and appreciated by us practicing teacher types.
Now, like I tell my students: There are literally DOZENS and DOZENS of other people that I learn from and value because they are willing to share their content and ideas freely with me. In fact, the sheer number of educators that I owe a debt of thanks to is amazing.
But nominating everyone waters down an award—-and there’s nothing about Nancy, David or the Connected Principals that deserves to be watered down.
They’re simply extraordinary.