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Filipino teacher blogs to ‘connect’ to students

A PHILIPPINE Science High School social studies teacher, known to his students as “Sir Martin,” believes teachers can use blogs or other web-based tools to connect to students.

“Blogging has allowed me to connect with my students this deeply,” Martin Perez said in a speech he made during a blogging forum organized to gather teachers who blog.

A blogger before he became a high school teacher, Perez admitted that blogging is not easy. In fact, it meant extra teaching load.

But apart from being a convenient way to distribute content online, the Filipino high school teacher sees blogs as a way to hook students and fostering better relationships with them.

“My current blog was born just this year — January 6, 2007 to be precise. I created it with the vision of it becoming my work blog, a place where I can focus on presenting material that would add value to what I teach. I wanted to go beyond information dissemination and to really engage my students online. I would use the blog to tease upcoming activities and give them a look into the origins of the different things we do in class. I would write about issues which interest me, which I feel will interest them, and thus will be interesting to add to our course. I would write about my students, my work and my love for teaching. But as I did all these, little did I know that I would realize something even far more powerful. A while ago I mentioned that the Internet has the potential to displace the teacher. I realized that through blogging, we teachers can win back our place in the classroom,” he said.

He stressed, however, that blogging is a decision teachers have to make.

“It takes a lot of commitment especially when it begins to work. Sure, there are some blogs which don’t take much effort — a PowerPoint here, a link there, a course description here, a table of deadlines there. But a blog is not a bulletin. It is an unending conversation and this is why it takes some commitment. Through my blog, I get to talk with my students, parents, fellow teachers, and even random people from Minneapolis to Mongolia,” he added.

During one instance, Perez said one of his students wondered why he didn’t include entries about his personal life. That got him thinking, and eventually he started writing about his life too.

“After all, one of the pillars of blogging is honesty. It does take a lot of courage, and I realize that sharing such information on the Internet is a huge risk on my part. However, I also realize that the students I handle — these teenagers who are at the same moment hungry for life and sick of life — appreciate knowing that other people have been hurt, rejected and tested and yet have turned out fine. For them to realize that their teacher had been one of them and that this teacher now chooses to work among all of them is what it means to be credible in their eyes. And once you are seen as credible, they will trust you. They will listen to you. They will respect you. They will take risks with you and they will learn with you. Everything else follows from there — what we teach, how we teach, and even why we teach,” he said.


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