5 reasons why every educator should start a blog
By Bernard Bull, TES author and guest blogger
There are tens of thousands of education bloggers on the Internet. There are billions of pages of educational content online, far more content and resources than any educator could use in a dozen lifetimes or teaching careers. Given these facts, why would any educator consider starting yet another blog? If you have ever asked this question of yourself or another teacher, you are asking the right question. It is critical to have a clear and compelling answer to it. Despite all these facts that at first might discourage you from blogging, I am going to give you five important reasons why the Internet needs one more blog…your blog. Are you ready? Let’s get started.
1. Blogging is about connecting more than content.
Yes, nobody will visit a content-less blog. You need to write about things that matter to yourself and other people. Yet, as much as blogging creates resources and content, it is even more about building connections with other people.
Through my blog, I have connected with like-minded and completely different-minded people from around the globe. Initially, I never pursued a vocation as an educational consultant -- that largely just happened from my blog. I would write about what I was seeing, thinking, learning, and doing. I’d put it on my blog, then I’d share a link to that article on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, or another social media outlet. People who knew me would read it and reach out to me. Then other people who I’d never met would come across it as well. From doing this, I’ve built connections with a myriad of people who are doing amazing work in education. I’ve provided some value for them, but they have enhanced my life and work even more.
Later, I started getting inquiries for me to give keynote presentations, conduct research, provide consulting on new educational products and for education startups, and write whitepapers for think tanks and professional organizations. Much of this came from my willingness to think out loud on a blog. As I’ve said before, blogging is really just thinking with your keyboard in public and inviting the entire world to join you for a digital cup of coffee (or tea).
We learn through connections. By blogging, people help me refine my ideas. They provide new ideas. They offer exciting collaborative opportunities. They open professional doors that I didn’t even know existed before I started to blog. You can do the same thing.
2. “We learn too late that our convictions [and creations] matter.”
That is a modified version of what Dr. Paul Ilsley, my qualitative research professor, told me a long time ago and it has made a huge difference in my life and career. Yes, there is an immense amount of content on the web, but your perspective matters. Even if you are writing about or sharing something that others have addressed, they have not looked at it from your unique vantage point in the world. You have a distinct set of gifts, talents, abilities and experiences; and bringing that to what you blog about does more than provide a duplicate of pre-existing content. You are sharing a bit of yourself with the world, and the world will be better off because of it. We need your perspective. Even if I think it is wrong, I can still learn a great deal from you.
I often run into teachers who have this wonderful trait of humility. Humility, as in the opposite of arrogance, can be a good trait. However, it turns into something else when you can’t see that you have something special to offer. Some of you will think that everything has been said about a given topic, that there is no need for yet another article about it. You might wonder, “Who am I to write this? There must be someone better informed.” That might be true, but you are thinking of it right now and someone out there might need to hear from you, not someone else. Do not underestimate the nuance that you bring to the subject. Some readers will resonate with how you approach the subject more than what they might read from a world-renowned author. Some will resonate with your article because of who you are, not just because of the content in what you write.
3. Writing is thinking.
By blogging, you will find yourself deepening and broadening your own thinking about education. There is something about turning your thoughts into words, sentences, paragraphs, and articles that help you sort through your ideas, refine them, and discover new and important trains of thought. Writing will help you grow as a reflective probationer, and doing so in front of the world creates a feedback loop for your thinking. You will find affirmations, the occasional challenge (although I’ve found those to be incredibly civil), and a chance to expand your thinking by listening to and learning from the perspective of those who come across your blog.
4. You are a teacher and blogging can extend your personal teaching network.
Teachers are wired to teach. They find themselves craving opportunities to nurture, mentor, share, engage, and light the flame of learning in others. At least part of this resonates with you, and that is why are in the field of education. When teachers get online, they learn and connect, but they are still teachers. That is why many of us end up finding venues to learn and teach in formal or informal ways online. Blogging is a way to live out your passion for teaching in the digital space. Along the way, you will find yourself building what I call a personal teaching network. This is a means of connecting with others, but it is also an opportunity to do what you love to do, teach. You can learn more about that in an article that I wrote about it a couple of years ago.
5. You want to do it.
If you are still reading this, there is something inside you that wants to start a blog. Maybe you have been nervous about doing it. Maybe you were a little uncertain about whether it was really needed or valuable. Maybe there was something else holding you back. No longer. You are an educator. You are also a lifelong learner. You want to share what you are learning with other people, and a blog is a great way to do that. What are you waiting for?
There are dozens of free and easy ways to get started with your first blog. Do a little research. Find an option that seems to fit your goals and needs. Then just get started. If you do so, also consider sending me a note on Twitter (@bdean1000), sharing a link, and a few words about your blog. I’ll gladly give you a little boost by retweeting it and sharing with my followers.