Recently, I have become more self-reflective about why I blog. My principal has been reflecting a great deal, and this has made me think about what and why I am doing things. (Also check out his three posts recently! They are amazing!) At a recent faculty meeting, I was presenting on why and how I blog. I decided to share it here as well. Although- you may want to grab a cup of coffee or tea- it is a long one!
I started out by being obsessed with blogs. I remember one day finding my very first blog which was a Year in Slow Cooking. I think I read all of her posts that year, and that allowed me to find other bloggers- A Pioneer Woman, How Sweet Eats etc. Soon, I was hooked! Then Pinterest came into view, and I found even more blogs- especially foreign language ones like Creative Language Class, Musicuentos and PBL in the TL (which originally was Sra Spanglish Rides Again! #flashback) I was realistic about my abilities- while I thought for awhile about making a cooking blog, I realized that was unrealistic. (I did have a name picked out which was something about olives.) Actually, I did make a short lived blog about my life as a Navy wife in Athens, Georgia! Finally, I decided to jump in and make a foreign language teaching blog.
It was definitely a bit stressful to decide to make the jump! While I felt that I had ideas to contribute, they weren’t as well thought out as Sara-Elizabeth or ground breaking as some of the proficiency work that Megan and Kara were doing. I didn’t feel like I had a specific angle like PBL just like Sra. Spanglish. But, I just started posting- which is what I suggest everyone can do. You don’t have to have a specific lens or something that you feel will shake the foreign language teaching world. I felt that some of my ideas would help someone teaching foreign language or Spanish, and that was enough for me.
I was also nervous that people would comment on how my ideas weren’t good enough or my blogpost worthy enough. Coming from the world of big time bloggers in the cooking world, it can be brutal. I remember every time I used to get a comment (not THAT frequently) holding my breath thinking- would this comment crush me?? But honestly, it didn’t happen. Most comments were extremely helpful or positive.
To ease myself into the blog world when I started blogging, I didn’t share it through social media. I wanted to make sure that I would stick with it, and I felt that if I waited until I had a few posts that people would be more willing to come back to my blog. At the time, there wasn’t the same promotion that exists today such as all of the Facebook groups. I could use Twitter or Pinterest- but that also required people to be following me to see my blog. However, especially when I started (and even now), I believe as teacher bloggers we shouldn’t worry about stats and views. It can be a somewhat motivating feature, but views can be fickle. Sometimes I think everyone will really like a post that doesn’t catch on. Other times, I throw a post together and later get a notification that my views are high. If you are worrying too much about that, it will be even harder and stressful to blog. Therefore, you need your “why” of blogging.
I blog because it helps me reflect. I have a beautiful planner full of my ideas with Flair pens and stickers. But I do not frequently go back and write down what worked and what didn’t. When I write about my lesson plans on my blog however, I write what I would have changed. This reminds myself, and I can refer to my notes when I have the same plan for the next year. I will frequently do this when I share my lesson plans. Also, other teacher bloggers noted on Twitter that just the act of describing an activity forces you to reflect on why you used the activity or changed the activity. I have to reflect on why I am sharing this with the world. I typically summarize why I planned to use each activity. I also get the same benefit if I don’t end up finishing or publishing a post. Therefore, you do not have to always polish every blog post if you don’t have time.
I also blog because it helps me collaborate with other teachers. One of my favorite examples was Goosechase. I found this tool, and I used it in class with directions. Again, I was able to reflect on what I had learned and explain how to set it up for teachers who had not used it. Then Arianne used it for novels– and it hit me that this was an even better way to use Goosechase. Sharon then added her ideas as well which allowed me to modify some of her prompts for the scavenger hunt when I was planning mine. These three ideas lead me to be able to utilize the program even better- and I use a lot of their prompts when I use Goosechase now. This to me truly is one of the biggest benefits of blogging- I can refine my own teaching because others use my ideas and make them better and bigger than I could have ever imagined.
So- has all of this gotten you motivated to blog? (I hope so!) Here are some of my tips for beginning bloggers:
- Read blogs or perhaps Facebook groups. Find out what people are talking about and what they want to know. If you see someone’s idea and modify it, you can share it on your blog! Again, that is how we all grow and become better as educators. You can also use questions that you see popping up repeatedly as a place to begin to write.
- You don’t have to have a specific purpose of blogging to start. You don’t have to be the resources guru or the IPA person; you can find your way as you go. Start blogging and eventually your persona will come out!
- You can post a few things before you publicize it. You can write some drafts, sit on them and then hit publish. (My longer posts are like this for me!)
- There are plenty of platforms to use- WordPress (like I do), Weebly, Blogger. You can see a comparison of the platforms here.
- Think about starting a group blog! You don’t have to go about it alone. If you are nervous, you can also share some posts with colleagues to get feedback. Or you could publish a guest post on a blog or a lengthy idea to a Facebook group. These ideas all give you the same sense of reflection and feedback as well.
- Don’t feel the pressure to blog every week. Some people do- and that is awesome. Others publish once a month, and they have some amazing ideas. Blogging should be helpful and enjoyable and not a chore.
Whew! Over 1200 words later- thanks for sticking with me! I hope this will inspire you to reflect via Twitter, Facebook groups or on your own blog. Also, if you start a blog, share it with me, and I can share it here as well!