Words are powerful. Whether they are written or spoken, words convey meaning to our audience, or ourselves. Our words explore our thoughts and ideas, becoming our reflections of the day on the topic that fills our minds.
From a very early age, we teach our children to “use their words” to express their wants and needs. As toddlers, my own children would grunt and point, scream and stomp, wanting something, and I would simply say, “Use your words.” Our children learn that words will produce reactions from others, learning and using this power at a young age. As parents, we mold and model our use of language in positive ways so that our children can learn to effectively utilize this skill.
As soon as students enter our schools, we also teach our children the importance of words, not only in spoken language, but also in the power of the written word. Putting pencil to paper to express thoughts and ideas empowers our children to dive deeper into the meaning of the words they put on the page. It is a beautiful moment when a kindergartener writes his first phonetic sentence, sharing his joyous venture of the day!
Throughout schooling, we ask our children to put pencil to paper, writing their thoughts, exploring content, and even typing their responses to questions. It is an expectation that all students know how to write well and are able to express their ideas effectively.
Yet, as adults, our daily efforts to use our words in the ways we were taught in school succumbs to the daily grind of our work, pulling together these words for work-related tasks via email, memos, or plans. The thought of writing our reflections from the day or even the week seems tedious and time-consuming. With the demands of family and career, writing for our own enjoyment and reflection is often the last thing on our to-do list!
Despite this challenge, it is imperative every educator uses his/her words to tell the positive story our schools and students represent every day. Every educator needs to have his/her own blog. A blog is a digital journal, a place for sharing thoughts, ideas, triumphs, and questions. Many educators across the globe have discovered the power of blogging for their classroom, for sharing great ideas and techniques, and for expressing their thoughts. It is the power of the written word that has started to transform our schools into the collaborative space we want to model for our students and families. Each educator’s blog becomes a transparent showcase for the world to see.
I started blogging a little over a year ago, and it has transformed my educational practice, supporting my journey to learn and grow with other educators around me. Through my blog, I express the thoughts racing through my mind, reflecting on my practice, enabling me to become a better educator. I share my thinking. I share what is happening in the school. I reflect and relate my personal ventures to my professional ideas.
My blog has opened doors I never knew existed. I am given amazing opportunities to write for others now, sharing my experiences, and broadening my reach to assist in others’ growth as well. Not only do I learn from others’ blogs, but educators can learn from me too! Isn’t that what education is all about? Learning and sharing from others, growing together for the betterment of all. Even more than that, as I write in my blog, I am modeling this activity for not just my staff, but also my own children. They see me using the skill of writing that I learned in school, that they are learning now, and seeing its real-life application. My kids always ask, “Mom, what are you writing about today?” I can share my thoughts with them, modeling the power our written words can have on others.
Blogging should no longer be an option for educators; it should be an expectation. It is a valuable experience, not just for the individual, but also for those who read it. It takes a leap of faith in yourself as an educator, but this transparency is key in growing and modeling that growth for our students.
So where do we begin?
Educators can set up their blog for any reason - showcasing student work and activities in the classroom, sharing instructional strategies and resources, or diving into their educational philosophy and changes in education today. I set up mine as a combination of these, showcasing the great work our teachers and students do, sharing resources and ideas I have used in my school, and as a reflection of my educational philosophy.
Using a site like Blogger or Wordpress, I set up an account, starting with a basic layout and color, but these can be changed later as I became more comfortable with my blog. It is important to make sure you provide a picture of yourself or your classroom, along with a brief bio so people know who you are! The title of your blog does not have to be fancy, but be sure to create a title so your readers can refer to your blog with a quick search.
Write your first post. Typically, I write my posts in a word processing document, such as Google Docs, and then copy and paste it to my blog. For me, it is first about finding comfort in writing my thoughts, and doing so in a simple word processor helps me feel at ease. Your first post can be an introduction to your blog or describing a great activity in the classroom. Keep it short and simple.
Once you have your first post written, copied and pasted into your new post, be sure to include a picture. I love reading blogs that have great quotes or other pictures to showcase their classroom. A picture is worth a thousand words, so choose carefully, representing your topic well. If you are grabbing a picture from the Internet, be sure it is cited appropriately or is free from royalties.
Finally, hit that Publish button. Trust me. The first time I hit that button, I was frightened! But it is an rewarding feeling - you are now published!
If you feel comfortable sharing your new blog post, please do so! Share the link of your first post with colleagues, friends, family, and even social media. Wonderful educators across the globe will support you and send accolades for your accomplishments, so share it!
Post as often as you would like. I try to publish 2-3 posts per month, but there are times when I can only turn out one in a month’s time. That is okay! The hurdle obviously is time, but for blogging to be of value, we need to MAKE the time.
It is through my blog that I have grown and learned so much about myself and my quest to be a better educator. And it is through others’ blogs that I have also learned so much, continually finding new strategies, new techniques, and new tools I can use to better the educational experience for our staff and students.
Our words are powerful, and we need to unleash this power among fellow educators, supporting our pursuit for growth and learning, modeling our own learning for our students. Taking the plunge to use your voice through your own blog might be ridden with anxiety, but the reward of growing, learning, and sharing is exhilarating!