Teachers are busy. They are always planning, always tinkering with their instruction, and there are the ever-growing stacks of assignments to grade. Just like one of those romantic comedy movies where the main character tries go one a date with two people at once, this is how a teacher deals with planning, instruction, and grading. As the main character switches identities to share time with one partner, this is like the teacher choosing to do one of those activities, like grading. Eventually, the pressure builds to switch to one of the other activities! And it goes on and on like this.
Not only do teacher bloggers participate in this same dance with planning, instruction and grading, they also spend several hours a week cranking out a couple of posts. Throw in the teacher podcast they are listening to on their drive home from work, the three twitter chats they participated in last week, and the teacher book that is their constant walking companion, and you’ll think that teacher bloggers have gone mad.
Well, we have! And we love it! But it doesn’t have to consume our lives. With a few simple tips, we can make it all blend together, while leading fulfilling lives and deepening our connections with our loved ones outside of work.
Last year, as a teacher blogger, I struggled. To start, I had high hopes. I think I set a goal of getting 150 posts written in that year. I completed maybe 50. It’s been a huge challenge trying to fit all of my life into the 168 hours I have each week. And with my current set of priorities, writing a post ranks fairly low on that list (though I wish I could make it higher).
I have adjusted my expectations. Right now, I am shooting for two posts a week (read more about how I came up with this number in my previous teacher blogger post), but I am perfectly willing to modify that to one if the demands of life call for it. Even with that modified goal, how does one find time to write? Planning, Instruction, Grading! Then all the other things too!
If you’re trying to fit it all in and write a blog, read on to discover how to take three different teacher-life ingredients and blend them together in a way that lets you keep publishing posts.
How to Keep Posting: Blend Your Professional Development, Reflective Practice, and Stories from the Classroom
I am constantly trying to get better, so I often need time to reflect. Since I am for improvement, I am always finding ways to develop my practice (Twitter, podcasts, Audible, books, and blogs). And the darnedest things happen in my classroom each week, things that I need to process and are worth sharing. Based on the theme of my blog, I can blend all of these elements together to produce a consistent line up of posts.
#1 Professional Development:
Every week, I am learning something new about life in the classroom. It’s a compulsion. I didn’t start out this way, but when I got a taste of how much I don’t know–that with a little bit of reading and a little bit of listening, I can deepen the impact I can have as a teacher–I was hooked. First it was books. Next it was teacher blog posts. And now I am on Twitter.
If you’re like me, you have hit a point where there is so much input, you can’t possibly process all of it meaningfully. In order to get better, what you and I need to do is grab a nugget here, a bit of wisdom there, and really chew on how it applies in our classroom. We need to think it through slowly. We have undeveloped half-thoughts, but we want to put ideas together and see how they work. They aren’t polished. So we might be tempted to think that we can’t put them out there.
Actually, blogging is the BEST platform for our iterative thinking on professional development. One teacher author calls his blog years of “rough draft thinking.” Let me draw your attention to the start of that previous sentence: teacher author. Want to write a book one day? Start thinking out loud on a blog. As we build our lists of readers, and they interact with our unfinished, unpolished thinking about education, we will clarify our positions and structure our convictions.
Blogging, it turns out, is one of the best ways to accelerate our professional development. That book you’re carrying around? Write a post on your biggest “aha moment” of the past week. Heard a piece of wisdom on a podcast? Give your take while connecting it with your classroom experience. Think “out loud” on a post, share it, and see what response you get.
#2 Reflective Practice:
Sometimes big things happen in my classroom. Sometimes things go unexpectedly sideways. These are the kinds of things that keep turning over in my head no matter what I do. I just can’t stop thinking about them. And at a certain point, my loved ones can only take so much of me bringing it up in conversation before they get tired of hearing about it. But it’s still on my mind. What do I do?
When that happens, take it to the blog! Not only will it be content that you can post on a regular schedule, but you get free therapy with as many people as you can get to read your post! Maybe others out there will have words of encouragement for you, or leave you some tips of where you can do some further reading. Or someone shows you a strategy you had never heard of before.
One bit of caution, be considerate about the content you post about. Avoid discussing students and/or colleagues in such a way that, if they were to become readers, they may see that you view them in a negative light. And do what you can to stay on theme with your other posts, though a departure from the norm may be the kind of novelty your readers are looking for every once in a while.
#3 Stories from the Classroom
Unlike reflecting on your practice, these are just stories from your classroom. Maybe something good? Maybe something that will cause readers to sympathize for you? There is a lot going on in your classroom, and any of those things could be useful for a post.
As a general rule, I would stick to the feel-good stories that encourage other teachers. Don’t let your blog become akin to an anonymous craigslist rant. And you don’t want to do any damage to your reputation as a teacher, or hurt your credibility with your students and their parents.
Doing this is also good for branding, cementing in your readers’ minds who you really are by telling your story. Readers will get a sense of the real you. I love reading blog posts about strategies used in the classroom, but every once in a while, it’s nice to see a heartfelt retelling about something good happening in a blogger’s classroom, or about how a teacher overcame some difficulty and going through a transformation.
Blend it all together! Your learning, your reflection, your stories–take all the elements and filter them through the theme of your blog, and you will have robust content for a consistent posting schedule. It’s doable!
Fellow teacher bloggers, what tips do you have for creating content on a regular basis? Are there any teacher blogger topics you want me to cover?
Leave a comment below.
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