I will start off by saying why I don’t blog. That’s simple. Time. Well, not enough time to be exact. Like all educators I am busy. I design units. I help other teachers integrate technology into their students’ learning. I grade. I have meetings. I email colleagues. I email students. I email parents. I try to carve out a few minutes to eat and hit the bathroom. And this is all just my day job. I have a wonderful wife to spend time with. Two young kids to play with, feed, dress, and help with homework. I have friends. And while at any given moment these things seem to be more important than blogging, I am going to explain what motivates me to write and what will hopefully give reason to do so as well.
Reflection is vital to becoming a better educator; You can’t move forward without thinking back. For me, nothing helps me do this better than putting my ideas down in writing. Spending time to find the just right word or perfect sentence to convey exactly what I mean is a great exercise in thought and reflection. It hones the ideas I have and at the same time helps me determine which ideas still need sharpening. While writing is not the only way I reflect on my practice (check out 3 ways to Reflect with Purpose), it is often the most powerful.
There is a direct correlation between my improvement as an educator and my connection with the many amazing teachers and admin that are part of my personal learning network. Every day I browse my Twitter feed, read educational posts on Facebook, and search YouTube for how-to’s but it wasn’t enough. I decided to blog because I wanted my voice to be a piece of the ever growing collection of educational ideas growing in this digital space. And through my journey as a blogger I have developed deeper connections with other teachers, received meaningful feedback, and in turn, have become a better educator.
As teachers we ask our students to write on a regular basis because we know that writing leads to better learning. This holds just as true for our students as it does for us. Blogging helps me process my ideas thoroughly and completely. It helps me to commit new ideas to long-term memory and to take my learning from surface to deep and to eventually transfer it to improve my students’ learning. I can’t tell you how many PD sessions or education articles I have read, loved, and then forgot. However, since I have started blogging, I can tell you that number has dramatically decreased.
I love being able to show my students my own writing process. To show them firsthand, drafts of some of my longer posts, covered in pen from my own revisions and from those of my peers. It shows them that I am still an active learner and that I am committed to practicing a growth mindset. Going through the writing process itself has also helped me relate more to what my students experience and to be able to look at them and say “yeah, writing IS hard and it can really suck sometimes!” Finally, writing has given me invaluable insight that has helped me become a better writing teacher. While we all can’t be active practitioners of what we teach (no one expects the high school biology teacher to be carving up cadavers on the weekend to stay adept in human anatomy), being active writers helps us become better language teachers, which is something we should all strive for.
As an international teacher, I have signed up for a life of moving from country to country, which also means I have signed up for a life of constant job searches. Having just completed one last year, I can tell you it is not easy. There are more and more teachers entering the international market and standing out in the crowd can mean trying to stand out as just one of thousands. By making my reflections and experiences as a teacher public on my blog, I can offer my future school employers direct access to who I am as an educator. Even if you are a lifer at your school, your digital footprint can be something you can look back on to see your past thinking and how you have grown.
Blogging hasn’t always been easy. Lack of time sometimes wins (as evidence of a nearly two year break between my last two posts). However, it is a journey I am committed to because it has made me a better educator. I hope it’s a journey you will join me on.
Do you blog? What are some of the reasons that keep you motivated? Share your ideas below in the comment section. I love connecting and learning from fellow educators.