In one of my favorite Portlandia sketches, everyone in Portland promotes their DJ night. Sometimes it feels like every teacher is turning into a blogger like citizens of Portland compelled to spin records. This is a fundamentally good thing: it allows teachers to share and access great practices while creating positive digital footprints. Here is some advice for teachers considering starting an education blog.
You are a teacher in the United States of America. You work too hard for too little pay. Who goes to bed at night worrying about telling the world how great you are? No one, that’s who. Teachers have to tell their own story.
Further, we encourage students to create digital portfolios. Teachers need digital portfolios too. What better way to introduce students to digital portfolios than sharing your own?
Finally, you never know what the future holds. What if your dream job in another school opens? What if you have to move? What if your school has cuts? Be armed with a powerful digital portfolio to showcase what you do. Everyone has a resume. Your blog will make you stand out.
What to Blog
Share what is unique about you as a teacher. Every teacher has something great they do: a lesson, a unit, a strategy, how they integrate a specific tech tool, etc. These great practices tell your story and help fellow teachers. Ask yourself, “Self, what do I do that’s awesome and would be useful to other teachers?” There are your first few posts. Focus on teacher usefulness. If a blog post you write helps one teacher, it was worth it.
Beyond your awesome classroom practices, there are other sources for blog post content. Are you speaking at a conference? Blog about the session afterward or write a post about your topic beforehand. This serves as further reading for session participants, giving them one more way to access your material. Blogging about a topic before speaking about it will make your presentation better. Are you a guest on an education podcast? Embed the episode in a blog post. Are you invited to write on another education blog? Create a short blog post linking to it.
What Not to Blog
There is no need to blog about topics such as “We’re better together” or “Wow, reflecting really helped.” Those platitudes are obvious. Share things that are unique about you.
Keep in mind a blog is your digital footprint. It will appear when anyone Googles your name. Put your best foot forward. Nothing embarrassing or unsafe for work should appear. Posts can and should be honest and share struggles. At the same time, “I had a terrible day. The students, my colleagues, and my school’s administration are all terrible” or any similar sentiments should never appear in a blog post.
Start out with a simple goal. I suggest one post per month. Do more if the spirit moves you. If you are 75% successful, in a year you have something potential employers will love and a resource that helps teachers.
Quick Blogging Tips
- Use images to tell your story. Classroom photos are great. If describing a tech tool, screenshots work. Always add ALT text for accessibility.
- Embed videos if they help tell the story.
- There is nothing wrong with linking to old content if it is relevant. Blogs (educational and otherwise) do this regularly.
- Use descriptive titles with relevant keywords instead of clickbait. Additionally, make sure the URL of each post has relevant keywords.
- Share your posts on Twitter in tweets with relevant hashtags, on LinkedIn, relevant Facebook communities, and with anyone else who might find them useful.
- Avoid using dates as titles. No one searches for “March 7 blog post.”
FULL DISCLOSURE: I HAVE NOT RECEIVED COMPENSATION OF ANY KIND FOR MENTIONING THE PRODUCTS OR SERVICES IN THIS POST. I WAS NOT SOLICITED TO WRITE THIS POST AND I HAVE NO RELATIONSHIP WITH ANY OF THE COMPANIES MENTIONED.