The edu-blog awards prompted a spirited debate on twitter in recent weeks, with many arguing that those of us in education who oppose awards in our schools should oppose the edu-blog awards. One of my favorite tweets in that conversation argued that instead of awards, we in the blogging community should instead write a list of our favorite blogs. I was inspired.
As an aside, I do not oppose supporting my students in seeking external awards: I love to see them compete and triumph outside my school community, and I like to celebrate their successes in doing so. What I worry about, though, is that internal awards, where our students’ teachers select “favorites” among them, is potentially damaging to the strength of our school community. So with that as my standard, I don’t see such a conflict in bloggers who oppose in-school awards celebrating their edu-blogger award nominations.
The problem with any list is once you start it is hard to know how to stop. There will inevitably be many fine blogs left off a list like this, so I offer my apologies to any potential exclusions in advance. This list is is no particular order whatsoever.
1. Peter Papas is a former public school educator, now consultant, who blogs at Copy/Paste: Dedicated to Relinquishing Responsibility for Learning to the Students. The sub-title alone represents its point of view compellingly; this is a great blog. Peter seems to publish 5-10 times a month, and he is unafraid to write lengthy, thoughtful, academic posts which really inform as they inspire. Copy-Paste has great themes which resonate closely with my own writing, but with sharper analysis and more thorough elucidation. Some excellent recent posts include
- Stop Worrying About Shanghai, What PISA Test Really Tells Us About American Students
- Education for Innovation or More Test Prep?
- 9 Questions for Reflective School Reform Leaders
2. David Truss is the independent school (international independent, in Dalian, China) administrator whose blog I currently most admire; he writes at Pair-a-Dimes for Your Thoughts. He posts 2-5 times a month; he writes about his school-work and his educational philosophy interchangeably; and he uses images powerfully. He is also unafraid to write at length. Some recent posts I admired include:
3. George Couros, a Canadian public school principal, is a great inspiration to me, both for his work as architect and soul of Connected Principals and for his individual blog, The Principal of Change. George, remarkably and very impressively, posts almost daily; his posts are always cheerful, affirming, encouraging, and so very sensitive to the people in his school and so very compassionate and sincere in his desire to see all of them grow. George, perhaps more than any other blogger, writes to nurture as well as to inform and inspire.
4. Josie Holford, an independent school head in New York, is someone I count as a valuable friend and colleague via our blogging connection; I remember vividly discovering her blog just over two years ago and writing that she inspired me to become a better Head of School blogger. She blogs at the Compass Point; she posts half a dozen times a month or so, and so does in a colorful, pictorial, passionate way. She cares deeply about her school community, celebrating it richly, and also about progressive education, for which she has become, through her blog, an important leading advocate.
5. Michael Ebeling heads an independent school in North Carolina, and blogs about once or twice a month at Peak Experiences. There he delves deeply and thoughtfully into important recent education publications, speaking empathetically to parents about the trials and tribulations of parenting their children through the school-age years.
- A Blurred Line between the Roles of Parent and Child
- Rethinking What We Know about Success in School
- Embracing Change: Living and Learning with a Growth Mindset
6. Lee Burns heads an independent school in Tennessee, and writes a headmaster’s blog on his school’s website, publishing about once or twice a month. The pieces are terrific, using metaphor effectively and offering penetrating analysis of important, difficult issues in contemporary society and schooling. They are almost too polished to be truly “blog” posts; they are clearly the product of deep thought and thorough preparation.
- A Thanksgiving Thought on Gratitude and Complaint
- The Public Purpose of Private Schools in a World Waiting on Superman
- Should We Push Our Children?
7. Rick Ackerly is a former independent school head and was for several years a very important mentor and coach to me in California. His new blog, at which he is now posting weekly or more often, has the same title as his recent book, the Genius in Children. Rick loves kids, and his exuberance about celebrating and protecting the imaginative and joyous world children do and should inhabit is infectious.
8. Bill Ferriter, a public school teacher in North Carolina and a columnist for Ed Leadership, posts several times a week to his excellent blog, the Tempered Radical. He is thoughtful, analytical, sharp and critical about how technology should and shouldn’t be used in learning, and about how learning needs to change more generally. He can be blunt and he can be subtle. Holding him in such high esteem, I was flattered when he wrote that “the Connected Principals blog has almost single-handedly renewed my faith in school leaders.”
9. Lisa Nielsen, an New York City administrator, posts daily at her excellent blog the Innovative Educator. So much happens here; she is passionate and informed about how technology can improve learning, and she is ready to take on any critic and turn around their negativity by demonstrating the positive potential of new tools.
- Preparing Students for Success by Helping Them Discover and Develop Their Passions
- Six Simple Ways to Use Cells for Learning
- Kids and teachers are interacting. Everybody panic.
10. Lisa Thumann, who consults on K-12 digital learning from a Rutger U. center, posts several times a week to her colorful and informative blog, Thumann Resources. Another new friend via blogging, Lisa is always encouraging, supportive, and helpful in providing instructions on new tools and asking important questions about how learning can change for the better; she is very sensitive to teachers who might find technology intimidating and offsets that with her warmth and cheerful encouragment.
- Spontaneous Professional Development
- Using Google Apps to Foster Global Collaborations #globaled10
- Connecting with Your Students (VSS2010)
11. Liz Davis, an in independent school educational tech director near Boston, posts every week her “Two for Tuesday” at her blog, the Power of Educational Technology. Succinct, informed, informative, Liz lays out new tools and the opportunities they present. This is an easy to use, valuable site.
12. Stephen Valentine is an author and administrator at a New Jersey independent school, and blogs weekly at Refreshing Wednesday. Stephen reflects on teaching in the digital age in a reflective, non-partisan way which I find really valuable. What is great is the way he recognizes both the power and the dangers of digital schooling: he is both a humanist and a technologist in one. One great post of his, which I love, is entitled 9 Reasons to Stop Reading this Blog.
13. William Stites is a colleague of Stephen Valentine at the same NJ independent school, where he is Director of Technology, and also editor for edsocialmedia.com. His blog, to which he posts a couple times a week, focusses closely on how students use tech for learning, but also offers reflection on his own professional growth journey.
14. Bo Adams is an independent school administrator in Georgia, and blogs a couple of times a week at It’s about Learning. Bo writes with a gentle touch, introspectively and sensitively about learning in 21st century middle schools.
15. Jamie Field Baker is an ardent advocate for reinventing schooling, work which she practices as an educational consultant and work for which she argues on her blog, Shared Leadership. She posts several times a week; many of them are about presentations she is giving, consulting she is doing, or, especially, about conferences she is attending. I found her NAIS Annual Conference blog posts to be among the best last spring. She is very informed, and very articulate, about educational innovation.
16. Robin Phares is a 7th grade teacher, ed technologist, and edtech blogger who is posting a new great tech tool or application each and every day it seems, all in cheerful, encouraging, affirming way. Great stuff is coming fr0m Talking Tech with Robin.
17. Lynn Hilt is a great contributor to Connected Principals, and posts regularly to her own blog, The Principal’s Posts. She writes very much from the perspective of a passionate elementary school principal, and lives her life outloud on this blog, sharing with us the great things she is doing in her school while reflecting thoughtfully upon them. Her post about a Dan Pink inspired FedEx day would make any educator wish to have the opportunity to work with or for Lynn.
18. Eric Sheninger is the school-principal Twitter guy, and he does brilliantly use Twitter to promote learning in his school community and to bring favorable attention to his school. But his blog, A Principal’s Reflections, is more than his tweets: it is the travelogue of a public school principal who is extraordinarily energetic in his pursuit to transform learning for his public high school students to make it relevant and preparatory for our world. I love too how he welcomes his own students to be guest contributors to his blog, something we should all try to do more with.
19. Jeff Delp, a public school educational administrator, is, I am delighted to say, a fellow Arizonan educator, the only one on this list, I believe. I am honored to be in the same state with Jeff; his blog, Molehills out of Mountains, has a unique voice that is committed to students and their voice, and to engaging them in meaningful learning. Jeff is funny, wry, and a bit ironic; he passionately wants to help readers to think differently about learning and to take the side of students.
20. Richard Byrne is a godsend; just about every day he posts another well crafted, illuminating and informative post about Free Technology for Teachers. For nearly every post, he also helpfully articulates the applications educators can make of these tools for their students.
- Lucid Chart – Quick & Easy Chart Creation
- Bee PDF – Broadcast PDF Documents
- Getty Games – Art Games for Kids
21. Pam Moran is a rarity, a public school superintendent blogger; she writes graciously, almost poetically, on her blog Spaces for Learning about the important things: student development, communities, the larger purpose of public education. Would that every school superintendent would write so well~! Her post on PISA results was one of the best blog posts I have read all year anywhere: informed, researched, articulate, perceptive, and deeply concerned about American kids, especially kids in poverty.
22. Chris Lemann is such an important figure in the world of educational innovation; he is, perhaps better than anyone, modeling the balancing act and synergy of leading both an individual school and an educational reform movement, and his blog is a critically important element of that leadership. He posts several times a month to Practical Theory, and the site well reflects its name: he is great about linking his larger ideas and philosophies with his day to day life as a principal, in a school, working things out. He also cares deeply about kids, and the empathy he shows for them is so heartfelt and compassionate.
23. Patrick Larkin is another practioner/blogger of the highest order; he is trailblazing at his Mass. public school, making it a national model of contemporary best practice within a conventional public school district. On his Burlington High School Principal’s blog, he celebrates the goings on of his school proudly and enthusiatically, while also using that platform– which attracts his families by its colorful depiction of life at school– to inform them about where education is and needs to be going. It is so user friendly (so much more than my own!), and offers a great model for principals who seek to blog.
- Happy New Year!…Same Questions…Thanks Dan Pink!
- More Parent Tech Workshops in 2011 – But In the Meantime Google Can Help
- YouTube Video of the Week – Diana Laufenberg’s TED Talk
24. Steve Taffee is an edtech director at a California independent school; somehow I missed him when I suggested NAIS edtech directors for the NAIS Board. His blog Blogged Indetermination, to which he posts a couple of times a week, is really terrific, looking thoughtfully at what technology means for learning, in deep, lengthy, informed and analytical ways. And, exactly as it should be, he doesn’t let his job description limit his range of topics: he is happy and willing to write about topics outside of tech too, and he does so powerfully. His piece on using computers openly on tests is among the most important posts I read in 2010.
25. Connected Principals is a treasure; I know I am not really allowed to praise it because I contribute to it, but I have to do so anyway. It is the go-to place for any school principal, current or aspiring, public or private, who wants to be part of an ongoing conversation about best practices in our schools and the daily lived experience of being a school-leader. Read the comments too, write comments, join the conversation: this is a great resource. I have learned so much from this site in the five months of its existence. I would suggest that for those school administrators considering taking the plunge to start a blog, they might practice developing their voices by commenting regularly on this site, and then using the confidence in that voice and writing momentum they develop in doing so to start their own blog. And to all my CP colleagues not mentioned individually on this list, please know that I greatly value your contributions to CP!
- How do you know….
- A Baker’s Dozen To Follow – No Measurement Required
- The No-Policy Policy
- Turn On the “Share” Button
- A Recipe for Success; Let’s Try to Improve rather than Change
One short post-script. I bet there are dozens of other great blogs out there that I am unaware or, or much less aware of, because the bloggers don’t use and participate on twitter. That is a mistake, I think. To blog without tweeting is to open a store without a sign or anything in the window: you might have great stuff inside, but you have to help people around you know that you have that great stuff.
A New Year’s Resolution I have is to to become better at using Twitter to spread the word of the fine writing and thinking this list of bloggers (and others) is doing each week. If I can get myself to it, I’d like to take an evening each week or two to tweet out quotes and links to the excellent work of this list.