For years, I’ve been the only world languages teacher in my school district.
In some ways, it’s a blessing. For example, department meetings are very easy when there’s only one in attendance!
But mostly, it’s a pretty lonely road — especially as a new teacher. My first year of teaching was done on an emergency teaching permit before I had a teaching license.
My situation was unique. Most pre-service teachers learned from a veteran teacher in their student teaching experience. I already had a teaching job, so my student teaching experience was done in my own classroom in a school with no other world languages teachers.
I remember how isolated I felt and how starved for ideas and professional discussion I was.
I so wish I could have introduced “new teacher Matt” to blogging.
Blogging, along with connecting to other educators on Twitter, has transformed my life as a teacher.
It’s an exercise that I wish EVERY teacher would try — and would try to stick to regularly. It can cultivate great ideas, provide a sense of community and energize a teacher stuck in the doldrums of everyday teaching.
Here are reasons that I started blogging and keep blogging —
- Blogging catalogs your ideas. When I write about something I’m learning or doing in my class, I’m putting it in my digital filing cabinet. To find anything I’ve written about Skyping or using Google Apps or teaching like a PIRATE, I just do a simple search on my site to find it.
- Blogging lets you share those ideas easily. People ask questions on Twitter, in my school or just in conversation about teaching. If I’ve written about the topic, I can simply copy a link to the article and send it via e-mail, a tweet or a text message. It’s easier than writing it from scratch or digging it out of notes.
- Blogging shows how you’ve changed as an educator. In almost two years of blogging, I’ve already undergone a teaching metamorphosis. I’m using technology in ways I wouldn’t have imagined. I have new classroom ideas, techniques and philosophies. Looking back to my first blog posts, I shake my head and think, “What was I thinking back then?” Then I remember, “I wasn’t the teacher then that I am now. I’ve grown a lot.”
- Blogging tells your story. There’s a great contemporary Christian song by artist Matthew West. It asks, “If not us, then who?”, referring each Christian’s individual job to spread the gospel. I like to use that same concept — if not us, then who? — with blogging. There’s so much negativity in society and in the media about the teaching profession. Those close to education know the top-notch learning that happens every day. We can — and should! — share that story with our own communities and the world. Because if not us, then who?
- Blogging encourages others. I found Vicki Davis’s blog, “The Cool Cat Teacher,” several years ago. It was one of the first teacher blogs I read. She made me realize that my doubts and feelings were normal. She gave me encouragement and equipped me with techniques and tools to improve my class. She and other teachers who blogged really lifted me up in a tough part of my career, and I owe them a lot. Chances are you’ve been encouraged by someone who’s shared their experiences or ideas. Come full circle. Put yourself out there and give that encouragement to others. If no one published their ideas, there would be nothing to be found online. Contribute!
Have I convinced you to give it a shot? If so, here’s a great resource to guide you: “Start Your Teaching Blog: Resources, Advice and Examples” via Edutopia. If you start a blog, be sure to post a link to it in the comments so we can check it out. If you do, I’ll write a comment on your first post!
Not convinced yet? That’s OK. Let’s talk about it. Post your doubts, questions or thoughts in a comment and we’ll discuss it. And after we’ve talked, if you still aren’t convinced, that’s OK, too!
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