In the digital world we live in it seems there are always more ways we “need” to be connected: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest….the list goes on. But what about blogs? For a teacher, creating a blog can be more than just connecting you to others, it can actually make you a better educator!
For me, blogging started as a means of reflection on things I had learned and wanted to implement in my classroom. My first blog post was the turning point! It made me realize just how powerful blogging can be. As educators, one of the most valuable things we can teach our students to do is reflect on their growth and learning. It is from this reflection that additional growth occurs. That is exactly what I found in myself after beginning to blog. Taking the time to truly think, reflect, and then share made a profound impact going forward.
Whether you are interested in blogging and don’t know where to begin, or if you have already started but want some additional pointers, here are a few ideas that have helped me along the way.
Write for yourself first
Start off by blogging for yourself, and not necessarily for an audience. Use your blog as a point of reflection, or as a means to “hash out” a new idea. Throughout the process be honest. Write about things that worked and even things that did not work. We teach our students that it’s ok to fail; the same goes for teachers as well!
Write what you are passionate about
Writing about things you are passionate about should come easily, it’s probably on your mind frequently. Use your blog to really focus on one element of your passion. Take the time to research and organize your thoughts. You may find yourself discovering something new, or even a different way of thinking about it.
This can be difficult for new bloggers (and busy teachers!) but it is very important. Create a writing goal and commit to it. Decide what works for you – daily? Three times a week? Once a week? Hold yourself to this goal and eventually it will become a habit. Not only is this good for you, but in the future, if you do decide to build an audience, your readers will appreciate it. Readers like consistency. It will help you build traffic to your site and build the trust of your readers.
- Bonus Tip #1 – If you need motivation, have one of your blog days always fall on a certain day of the week and give that day a theme, such as Tech Tuesday, where you do a blog post on new technology you are trying in your classroom.
- Bonus Tip #2 – Keep a running list of potential topics so you always have something to write about. Consult that list when you need inspiration.
Once your blog is up and running, and you find yourself posting regularly, you may want to take the next step and begin promoting yourself. Here are some suggestions:
Have a focus
Decide on a focus and stick with it. What are you trying to say? Do you want to communicate with parents and students? Have a classroom blog? Or will your blog be your personal reflection tool? Some blogs are all over the place and cover everything. This can be dizzying to a reader. Readers like to know what is coming. That doesn’t mean your classroom ideas blog can’t include a DIY craft project or recipe but tie it together. For example, an Energy Granola Bar recipe could be a quick on-the-go breakfast idea for harried teachers.
Make it look professional
It doesn’t have to cost money, but your landing page is a visitor’s first impression of you. Make it look clean and easy to navigate. Take out all distractions, such as music playing, moving graphics, and silly fonts. Your site should be user-friendly and intuitive. If you would like to spend money, buy a domain name for $10-15 and have your blog redirect to that. It looks more professional, which helps you look more like a professional and an expert to readers. In addition, make sure you write well. There is nothing worse than reading a blog that is poorly written – it’s not focused, contains grammar mistakes, misspellings, etc. Especially since you are a teacher! Always use spell check and proofread more than once before publishing. It’s also not a bad idea to have a friend, spouse or colleague be your “editor” and second set of eyes.
Be sure to engage with your readers. If you get comments, write back! If your audience is outside of your classroom (meaning, not a site strictly for your students), consider creating social media platforms to engage and promote further. Create a Facebook page, Instagram account, or Twitter hashtag. You can then use those accounts to connect with your readers. Include buttons on your blog so people can easily access those networks to connect with you.
Regardless of what kind of blog you have, how often you post, or even if it’s personal versus shared with the world, know that by taking the time to blog you are doing something wonderful for yourself, which in turn will be something wonderful for your students. And isn’t that our goal?