Why Bother with Blogging?
Remember when you were a kid and you had a journal and the best part about it was that no one would ever read it?
You could write whatever you wanted and your secrets would be safe. You probably even had a lock and key for it! You could doodle in it and write down your hopes, dreams, and deepest feelings and know that all your private thoughts would never be revealed.
Now think about blogging. It’s like you are writing your journal but this time there’s no lock and key. Your blog is completely open and public and this time, you actually want people to read it. In fact, you’re hopeful the entire world will not only read it but will contribute to it in the form of comments and subscriptions. When you blog, your hope is to get people talking about what you write, whether they agree or disagree, and sometimes the disagreements are better and a lot more thought provoking than the status quo.
I created my blog back in January as a requirement for graduate school and at first it was quite nerve wracking. I knew I would be sharing my thoughts on teaching, learning, and school leadership not just with my professor and classmates but with the entire world!
Honestly, that was a scary thought for several reasons:
1. Would people agree with my philosophy?
2. Would anyone even care about what I had to say?
3. Would I inspire anyone?
Those thoughts ran through my mind as I started to create my professional blog. Everything from the platform, to the template and color scheme suddenly became extremely important because I knew I was developing my “public brand image” so to speak. I’m still not thrilled about the aesthetics of my blog, but the more I write, the more I realize design doesn’t matter (for me anyway). The content is what matters most. I don’t visit someone’s blog and think, “Wow! This looks great!” I visit someone’s blog because of their message, what they share, and what I can learn from them about education, technology, and leadership. With that being said, I still wanted my blog to look appealing. Being a marketing teacher and exercising my creativity through my curriculum has become second nature to me, but something about creating my blog was different.
I’m just going to come out and say it…I feared I was going to be judged. Now if that’s not a thought one would write in a journal, I don’t know what is! I think it’s only human nature that we have some degree of fear that other people will judge what we say and how we say it; maybe that’s the reason more teachers aren’t blogging.
Now I have to preface the rest of this post by saying by no means am I an expert on blogging; that’s apparent in how few posts I’ve published and how few subscribers I have. I’m not an intermediate blogger. I am definitely a novice blogger. However, I have experienced a great deal of inspiration within the short time I have been blogging and wanted to share my progress thus far in hopes that I will continue to grow professionally and perhaps inspire others to give blogging a try.
I feel as though I have Twitter down pat, but I definitely have a long way to go when it comes to blogging. However, I find it amazing that my blog has been viewed by people in more than 40 countries. I received a comment from someone in Italy and author Karen Hume commented on one of my posts about digital natives. That kind of feedback was surprising and was something I shared with my students. I was able to provide them with authentic examples of how blogging really does enable you to speak to and connect with a global audience. But as I said, when it comes to blogging, I still have a long way to go, and I’m ok with that.
I have been reading and learning from incredibly talented and inspiring educational bloggers from all over the world. These exceptional people and organizations make blogging seem easy, but for me personally, blogging is tough. I’ve never been one to sugar-coat anything, so I have to keep it real. Here are two major challenges I’ve faced since I started blogging:
1. What do I write about? With what seems like an endless supply of education issues to discuss, the irony is that selecting a topic for a post is the first challenge I think many new bloggers may struggle with. Perhaps for some, it is the sole reason they choose not to even bother with blogging. And if you read a lot of blogs, as I do, you may feel as though you couldn’t possibly add to the already flooded blogosphere. You read post after post and think, “that was brilliant! my sentiments exactly! I couldn’t have said it better myself!”
2. When do I have time to blog? A blog isn’t something an educator must do. I could be wrong, but I have yet to hear about a school that requires teachers to blog. Therefore, it is up to the individual teacher to carve out time in her already jam-packed schedule for blogging. So why do it? I’m advocating for blogging, as I have for Twitter, because I believe it is an incredible way to grow professionally. Blogging allows you to reflect on the areas of your profession that are most relevant to your individual needs as an educator. If you’re on an island at your school in one particular area, you can seek out bloggers in your PLN who share your passion and philosophy, or if you want to spice things up, you can look for people who are your polar opposite. Blogging affirms that you are not alone, even if at times you feel like an outcast or that no one will listen to your “radical” ideas about standardized testing and tech integration. Blogging gives you freedom and choice. It’s also exciting when you receive comments and retweets of your posts because it means people are listening. They may be on the other side of the world, but they are listening and nodding in agreeement and to me that is powerful. Blogging has provided me with a sense of community that cannot be replicated within my school environment and keeps me energized, especially at times when I need it the most.
This summer there are no excuses when it comes to blogging. I will have the time, and there are certainly more topics I want to write about. In fact, I have a few drafts I’ve been working on for quite a while that I will finally get around to polishing and then publishing. This post in particular has been in draft form since May 1, and I’ve finally found the time (ok the courage) to wrap it up and hit publish.
So again, I’m not going to sugar-coat blogging and say that you can spend 10 minutes a week on your blog and “get it.” Twitter yes, but blogging, no. It takes a lot more time and practice, but as with anything, practice makes perfect (working on eliminating all clichés in my posts) and with enough practice, with enough calculated risk-taking, I’m confident I’ll be able to say that I “get” blogging as much as I “get” Twitter.
One final thought about blogging versus Twitter: sometimes you need more than 140 characters to get it all out. Obviously I’m no where near being able to write a knock-your-socks-off post in one or two paragraphs (if you’re still reading, thank you! This post is a moster at 1340 words) but my goal is to keep practicing, learning, and growing as an educational blogger. If not to inspire the world, to serve as an example to my students. Because, when you take a chance and “unlock your journal” for the world to see, you never know what kind of great things can happen as a result.