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Blogging challenges for school superintendents

Author: 
jsteffenhagen
As noted in my last post, the number of B.C. school superintendents who blog has decreased since 2011 when roughly a third were doing so regularly.
I asked West Vancouver superintendent Chris Kennedy, who has set an excellent example with his Culture of Yes blog, why he thinks his colleagues are not as enthusiastic about blogging as he is. He replied with the following thoughts:
- Blogging is hard. You have to dedicate time on a regular basis to writing and it is not part of a traditional pattern for most people. It is also just hard to "put yourself out there".
- There is uncertainty about what to write. Some Superintendents use it as a journal (like Monica Pamer in Richmond) to tell stories; others use it more for district news (like John Lewis in North Vancouver). There is no one right answer, but it is hard to determine "what" the Superintendent should write about. I have always tried to be broad - some of what I write is what I see in our district, some is what I think about education trends and some is future-focused in areas that may not be directly linked to education.
- If you don't have an audience, it can be discouraging. With so many people joining the blogging community, it can be hard to gain an audience. While the role of Superintendent will immediately get some traffic, the numbers may be small to start. One has to see blogging as at least as much about the personal reflection to find it fulfilling.
- If you blog and don't participate in the digital community, you likely won't stick around. I would see some people blog but would not follow this up by engaging via Twitter or even responding (or soliciting) comments on the blog. The community is part of the power. Some who blog are really just writing newsletters online.
- The job action. I think it was hard to figure out just what to say during the strike, and very few district leaders blogged. The few who were engaged in social media often got targeted as the face of BCPSEA (B.C. Public School Employers' Association) and at times the government, so may have thought there was no need to put themselves through that unnecessary backlash. For those new to the community - even in senior district roles - this can be intimidating. Nobody likes to be publicly criticized.
While Superintendents don't need to blog, Kennedy said it's a great way to model what is expected of students in the digital world.
I am a guest blogger for BCCPAC and do not speak for the organization.
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