By Teachers, For Teachers
Wordpress. Blogger. Edublogs. Tumblr. TeachHUB. These are just a few platforms available for teachers to become writers. Teachers already have a lot on their plates, so why would they even want to be writers?
We believe that it is necessary for teachers to be writers and to share our strategies, lessons, and resources with one another, as we are able to provide glimpses into our daily lives, while sharing effective ideas that are realistic and classroom-tested. In the past, teachers would submit articles to various teaching journals, wait several months for approval, then finally see their work published. Now, blogging has become a fast, effective, and easy way for teachers to become writers and publish content.
When blogs first began in the 1990s, they were mainly used to share interests and hobbies or to become an online journal. But times have changed, and you can now find a blog on practically any topic. According to NM Incite, by the end of 2011, there were “over 181 million blogs around the world, up from 36 million only five years earlier in 2006.” This dramatic increase in the number of blogs and blog readers shows how significant blogging has become for people to learn new things, share ideas, and express their thoughts.
When we first began teaching, we did not know of any colleagues who wrote teacher blogs and we would have been hard pressed to explain why teachers would even become bloggers. Not only have we now become teacher bloggers ourselves, but we also regularly refer to many other teacher blogs as sources of inspiration for our own teaching, strategies to apply in the classroom, and places to learn about the newest trends in teaching.
Expand your PD
There are several reasons why teaching, writing, and blogging complement one another. Following various teacher blogs, commenting on the entries, and interacting with other teachers is an excellent form of professional development. Instead of only having local teachers in your professional learning community, you can now have teachers from all over the world to exchange stories, strategies, advice, and lessons. When teachers become writers, they share their professional knowledge and learning with other teachers. Sharing your insight with other teachers allows you to discuss the best ideas to use in the classroom to meet the diverse needs of your students. What better way to improve your teaching than to have hundreds of teachers in your professional learning network?
Express Your Voice
Not only does writing further your own professional development, it allows you to express your voice, share resources that worked in your classroom, and presents you with various experiences and opinions. We love to follow and read other teacher blogs because it allows us to see what other teachers are doing in their classrooms, how they have applied various strategies and ideas to their teaching, and then try out these same ideas in our own classrooms. Some of the best teaching resources for multiple subjects that we use in our classrooms have come from other teacher blogs. Having trouble with differentiating science for your students? There’s a teacher out there who probably overcame the same challenges. Want to try a new classroom management app for your class, but don’t know which one to choose? You can bet that a teacher has already reviewed several great apps and can guide you in the right direction. Are you a first year teacher or new to a grade? Search tons of teacher blogs to get inspiration, support, and guidance from people with diverse experiences, skills, and knowledge to help you improve your teaching practice.
Outlet for Personal Reflection
The process of writing allows you to learn more about your own teaching, as it forces you to reflect—on your teaching, the concepts you are focusing on, how your students learn, how you can improve your teaching, and why your ideas are valuable. By taking the time to think back on your teaching, the students in your class, and the strategies you are using, you will be able to discern what is working and what needs improvement. The act of getting words on paper (or typing out those words!) is very cathartic and allows you to analyze your thoughts and actions in a much more reflective manner than it would be to simply think back on your day. While writing and reflecting, you will soon realize that your ideas are valuable and your insights are profound. We believe that reflecting and writing about our own teaching practices has made us better teachers and allowed our students to benefit as well. Writing is a very powerful tool that all teachers should have in their toolkit.
If you are a teacher and are unsure about writing your own blog, here are some suggestions that you may find useful:
1.) Have you visited other teacher blogs? If not, there are so many excellent teacher blogs out there that you may find interesting. A quick search would provide you with some great blogs that are related to your own teaching and are interesting to read.
2.) Find a buddy! We work together and write our blog together. We enjoy the camaraderie and being able to support one another, share ideas, offer guidance, and act as one another’s sounding board.
3.) Every teacher is busy—between teaching, planning, marking, coaching, and our personal lives, we all have a lot on our plates. How do we find time to write? We find writing to be a reflective practice that helps us become better teachers. If you find a topic that you are passionate about, then writing will not seem like a chore, but more like a goal that you are inspired to reach.
4.) Be professional when writing! Never blog about anything that would compromise your integrity, that of your students, or your colleagues. Respect and professionalism is of the utmost importance.
5.) Don’t think that your thoughts, reflections, and experiences shouldn’t be shared. Overcoming this apprehension will build a network that will help affirm and ameliorate our practice! What you think is not that great, may be just what another teacher needs to read!
6.) Learn from others and reflect! Take what you see, make any necessary changes or additions and try it out! Once you have tried it for yourself, reflect! Then, share the experience again! As we pass it on, we continue to learn from others and others continue to learn from us!
Do you have any blogging tips? Share with us in the comments section!