A lot of teachers are blogging, but what is it worth?
I know the reasons why you might think you don’t need a blog. Believe me, I was there. If you consider the possible benefits, blogging can truly make you a better teacher.
I can think of a number of reasons why you might not be interested in blogging. I ran though all of them myself. I came up with every reason possible to tell myself that blogging wasn’t for me. The most convincing were:
- I Had No time. How could I possibly blog? I simply didn’t have the time. I was too busy with teaching, spending time with family, and advising clubs. Blogging seemed fine for when I had more time. Sometime in the way, way future. Maybe when I’m retired.
- I’m Done Writing. When I finished graduate school, I thought I was making a fair trade: writing essays for grading essays. I was going to move on from writing. After all, writing research papers takes up a lot of time! [See the point above]
- I’m Not A Blogger. Who were those teachers posting their ideas and lessons online? Surely, they were bloggers! I wasn’t a blogger though. I had not paid much mind to how or why they actually did what they did. I just enjoyed using the material they posted. Blogging was fine for them, but I didn’t really think of it as my thing.
Why It Matters
Well, as you can see, my resistance to blogging was overrun. So here I am on the other side of it. I would like to share with you 11 reasons why, if you just do it, blogging will make you a better teacher.
1. Building Your Own Brand. We live in a connected world where everyone can have their own platform and microphone. The internet allows us all to spread our individual message. As educators, we can share all the best parts about our profession: our strategies, our beliefs, or the great work of our students. By building a blog, you are not just creating a place to share facts, but you are building your own educational brand. Pretty cool, huh?
2. Building Your Own PLN. For the first time in the teaching profession history, we have the chance to build our own personalized PLN. We are no longer limited to location or buildings. When you start a blog, you won’t have to join someone else’s discussion group, you will have created your own. The PLN you create will be your very own because it will be centered around your very own writing.
3. Staying Technologically Up-To-Date. Blogging is a way to connect and share. Think of blogging as an idea marketplace. You can exist in your own local network, maybe your building or school. But blogging helps you connect with other educators who are sharing awesome new technology tools and practices. Of course, there is also the technical side of it as well. Most blogs are ‘set-it and forget-it”. However, if you run your own blog on WordPress.org, you get into the really nerdy fine-tuning of WordPress. It’s a blast!
4. Getting Published. Some might be skeptical about the value of being self-published. I would agree that a self-published blog doesn’t have the highest market value…at first. But consider the case of Larry Ferlazzo. He is a history teacher in California. He has been blogging for years and his writing has been featured on the New York Times multiple times. Keep publishing because you will never know who might be reading.
5. Reflection. By blogging, you are forced to reflect on the what and how of your teaching. Every time I write a post, I am thinking not just about education in general, but how exactly it affects my own students. I reflect on my own assessments, assignments, habits, and practices.
6. Research. We all encourage our students to do good research. What better way to help them through the steps of researching if we are researching ourselves. Researching and citing for a blog is slightly different than doing it for an academic paper [looking at you footnotes]. Yet, it is still important to stay in the habit of finding, summarizing, analyzing, and presenting. Example: The only reason I started to use EasyBib for Google Docs with my students was because I loved using it while I researched.
7. Insight. I wrote hundreds of pages while training to be a teacher in college. After graduating, it was some time before I started my first blog. I won’t lie, I was a little rusty getting back into writing. Writing is like any other skill, the longer we don’t practice the more rusty it gets. If we are to be helping students be the best writers they can be, we need to be writing ourselves.
8. Showcasing Your Students. One of the cool things about your own blog is a space for you to showcase all of your student’s best work. If they don’t have their own blog or if too shy to show their work off on social media, you can be their champion. One of the best posts I got to write this year was the one showing off all of my students’ word clouds. Writing that post was a blast! My students were psyched when they made the cut for the internet showcase.
9. Collaboration. By making your own blog, you can more easily connect with others and collaborate on projects. Yes there is social media but reverse that logic. Think of your blog as the home base and each of the social media outlets as an outpost. Your conversations might happen on Twitter or Facebook but real discussions are taking place over blog posts. Because of my own blog posts, I have collaborated with a bunch of other educators creating great content. This chat about gamification came from conversations started by blog posts.
10. Reading More. If you are reading more for your own posts or simply reading other bloggers, you are simply reading more. Here is the cool part, the reading doesn’t feel like a grind. Now, when I read an article or a book, I am thinking about how I can share the cool information in a post. Now that I blog, I am reading more than ever.
11. Modeling For Students. There is a growing trend in education to rethink our assessments. Many educators, including me, are reducing the number of student essays but increasing the number of student writings. What is replacing the essays? Short-form research opportunities. Blogs are becoming increasingly legitimized as an assessment of student learning. By making your own blog, you can serve as a model for your students.
There you have it! 11 reasons why blogging will make you a better teacher. I know there is always going to be that resistance to try and dissuade you. Don’t listen to it. Try it out and you won’t regret it.
Tools To Help You Get Started
One of the things that was most daunting was choosing where to start. Here are some helpful websites that can help you get going!
Question: What is holding you back from starting your own blog?