I always encourage teachers to blog, even if they are the only ones who will see it. I think it's good professional practice for a number of reasons. And with the ISTE conference coming up in a couple of weeks' time, there's no better time to start.
Here are eight reasons that blogging might be for you.
Reflect on your practice
Every good teacher reflects on what he or she does in the classroom. How did that new exercise go down? Did the students respond well to that new challenge you set them?
We all like to think that everything we try will be an unambiguous success, but sometimes it just isn't. Acknowledging that, and trying to pinpoint what went wrong and why, are crucial.
And the nice thing is that you don't have to do all this breast-beating in public. Having a blog just means that you can "write" down your thoughts or read them wherever you happen to be. If you use Blogger, you can make your blog visible only to yourself. If you use Wordpress, you can create a private blog, visible only to yourself.
Keep an online research notebook
If you like to do research, whether for a course or simply to help you become a better teacher, using a (private) blog as a means of keeping track of your reading and your thoughts can be quite useful. The only disadvantage is that as posts tend to be organised by date, you will need to think carefully about what tags you use, and what categories you create, in order to be able to find stuff as easily and quickly as possible.
Keep a progress record of new initiatives or events
If you introduce a new approach, or take your students on a visit somewhere – especially if you do so on a regular basis – it would be good to have a blog so that you can record progress. As well as being good reflective practice anyway, doing so will enable you to let others, such as parents and school leaders, know how things are progressing. It's a useful way of demonstrating to others that what you are doing has real educational value, and is not just some gimmick or fad.
If you try out a new app or read a book about teaching, why not write a review? If the product or book is good, you will want others to benefit from it. If it isn't, then others may be able to benefit from your "mistake".
When writing reviews, it's important to stick to the facts, and to give reasons and contexts. For example, a review like "This product is useless" is, erm, useless, because it doesn't convey any real information. On the other hand, a review like "My 4th grade students found the language a bit difficult" is something that others can relate to and which they can use as a basis for deciding whether or not to buy it themselves.
Be seen as an expert
It's not enough to be an expert in what you do – you need to be seen to be an expert. At least, that is my view if you think you will be looking for promotion at some point. Writing a blog doesn't guarantee that you will enjoy a meteoric rise, but it does indicate to any prospective employer that you know what you're talking about. And although I don't have concrete proof of this, I imagine that having a presence on the web, and being able to point to the number of subscribers you have, or Twitter followers, can be quite useful in helping to establish your credibility.
Share the love
Even if you don't care about promotion or anything like that, why not blog about your views and experiences so that others can benefit? If you had a terrible time teaching your 5th graders because it was windy, writing about it may not only be cathartic, but also enable others to see that they're not alone. If you can thrown in some information about how you successfully overcame the challenge, that's even better.
Finally, if you love writing, then a blog is nice and easy. Unlike attempting a novel or something like that, all you have to do is write a few hundred words, if that. It's no coincidence that some educators have attempted to get boys interested in writing by having them write short blog posts.
Become a producer
Finally, in keeping with the spirit of the times, blogging is a way of being an active producer rather than a passive consumer. There's a sense of empowerment in being able to write what you like (within reason: you don't want to get sued for libel or anything) when you like.
So, if I've convinced you to try your hand at blogging, the two platforms I mentioned earlier enable you to set up in minutes. In fact, the hardest thing will probably be thinking of a good title for your blog! Of the two, Wordpress will be the one to choose if you wish to avail yourself of lots of free plug-ins – widgets that undertake various tasks. On the other hand, if you already use Google Drive and other Google apps, then Blogger might be the one for you because it is owned by Google: you need only one set of details to log in the Blogger and Google Drive.
I look forward to reading your thoughts!
About Terry Freedman
Terry Freedman is an independent educational ICT and Computing consultant in England. He publishes the ICT in Education website at www.ictineducation.org.