Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Blogging About Blogging, Part 1

Dear Teachers,

I've been asked to teach a class about blogging to our district principals, so it seems fitting to write a blog about my thoughts about blogging. A bloggy-blog. A meta-blog, perhaps. It's sometimes a little intimidating to address a room packed full of principals. Without exception, my district's leaders are an incredible bunch of committed, warm, friendly individuals, but they are... well, bosses. You know, authority figures. So whenever I have the job of speaking to them, I tend to obsess prepare really well.

How do you encourage people to start blogging? It's my experience that very few people start out believing that they have anything worthwhile to say; many first blogs I've read are on the apologetic side, noting that the author doesn't know how to start or what in the world they would write about, let alone who would care to read what they have to say. Most people seem to fear being just one more tiny drop in the ocean of opinion that the Internet has become. But knowing that most people find blogging a bit daunting actually helped me to get started. That knowledge normalized my own hesitation, and encouraged me to just try it. So I'll probably tell the principals that the number one thing to remember when getting started is that most people find it difficult to get started.

I thought long and hard about my "gimmick" for  blogging. Some techie people, like Amy Mayer or Alice Keeler, blog regularly with helpful tech tips. Some principals blog about leadership styles or changing their campus cultures. Some teachers blog about discipline tips or lesson ideas. For me, the writing that comes easiest to me is to think in terms of writing a letter to a friend  - hence the "Dear Teachers" blog title here. So my second piece of advice is to come up with the angle that makes the most sense to you.

A third piece of advice is not to put too much pressure on yourself to become a full-time blogger. I am amazed and impressed by people who blog daily, or even weekly. I am not one of those people. I try to write something at least once a week, but I fall far short of that goal, and even if I write that often, I only publish something once a month or so. I have at least twice as many "draft" blog posts as I do published ones. At one time I might have considered that a failure, but I figure even if I'm not publishing everything I write, at least I'm writing. The blog posts that come easily and seem to write themselves are the ones that I usually end up hitting the "Publish" button on.  Sometimes I come back to unfinished attempts later, but often that draft just stays on my list for months until I finally delete it. This blog is a good example: I had the idea to write up something for the class, and I have made only minor touch-ups since the first time I sat down to write.

I also try not to get too hung up on cosmetics. I just used one of the Blogger templates, with some very minor embellishments. Someday I might change it, but for me it's fine for now. I am a little envious of people who have those really cute Canva-created personalized backgrounds, though...

Here are some blogs you might take a look at as you consider starting your own. Do y'all know the acronym WAGOLL? I just read it recently: What a Good One Looks Like.  These are a few WAGOLL blogs that I always enjoy checking out:

Clara Alaniz's blog
Matt Arend's blog
Beth Carter's blog
Kelly Parrish's blog
Leah Pendleton's blog
Kristin Ransom's blog
Ryan Steele's blog

I seriously doubt I will ever make TeachThought's (or anyone else's) list of best educational blogs to follow, but that's not really the point for me. I just kinda get a kick out of writing sometimes. It helps me to reflect on a project, or to try to more closely identify my feelings about something, or to describe a process for a professional endeavor (for example, blogging!) If a few people read what I have to say, then that makes me feel good, and most people are extremely encouraging in their comments.

You can find additional suggestions for getting started on blogging here:

Being a Connected Educator: How to Start Blogging
Blogger Getting Started Guide
The Ultimate Guide to Getting Started with Blogging

My next post  contains actual how-to's, along with lots of screen shots, for getting started with Blogger. Blogging Part 3 has directions for adding your Twitter feed to your blog. I hope you'll give blogging a try!



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