Have you heard this before, “you should be writing/blogging/sharing”? Maybe, maybe not…perhaps it’s been a colleague who’s tried to convince you to share your classroom knowledge and experiences. Perhaps it’s your friends who know you’re such an amazing cook, photographer, or artist. If your family and friends are anything like mine then surely someone has insisted you share your traveling experiences so they can live vicariously through your awesome life 😉 But it takes time and effort – time and effort you’d rather dedicate to your craft, hobby, or family…so what do you do?
About three years ago I made the decision to actually do it, to start blogging. I had considered it for a number of years, mostly planning to write about my travels and experiences. However, three years ago when I finally committed to starting a blog I decided it had to be about education. Why? Good question…
Looking back at my decision I realize (or at least I’m ready to admit) that it was a decision I made for selfish reasons. See, I had started writing simple emails to the staff at our school. They were short, one to two paragraph pieces generally related to a piece or two of research that I had encountered earlier in the week. I never received much feedback from our staff and figured they generally went unnoticed or even worse, ignored! However, I was seeing growth in myself as an educator and as a learner. When I first started to send these short pieces to our staff I was trying to help them improve as educators. However, I realized that perhaps more than anyone it was ME who was growing from this process!
What happened was that in order for me to write a short one to two paragraph summary of an article with a couple ideas, I had to spend a lot more time pondering education than it took me to actually type two paragraphs. I estimate that for every article I bookmark in my “professional readings” folder, I read another nine or ten that I don’t bother saving. Beyond reading these articles I spend a lot of time just pondering, wondering, and questioning the information I’ve learned through these readings. It’s amazing professional development just to go through this exercise on a regular basis.
I hear you, “well that’s great Bret, but it has nothing to do with blogging” and I agree…kind of. If I hadn’t committed myself to sitting down each week and writing a blog post (I’ve published 85 to date, make that 86 today!) then I would have NEVER gone through the time and effort to have read and learned so much over the last three years. I’m a naturally curious person and can be easily drawn into anything (even terrible TV shows that I really should have no interest in watching!!) SO, a lot of the time I spend reading educational articles, following people on Twitter, and listening to TED Talks is time that I would probably otherwise spend on silliness like Facebook, Instagram, or bad TV. Blogging has redirected my time management in a sense but it has also expanded my horizons further into education than I could’ve ever imagined.
I will continue blogging and writing professionally (I’ve also started writing book reviews of educational texts) because I enjoy it and find the opportunity to grow personally satisfying. But I’m not you and you’re not me. You may be similar or maybe not…so why should you blog?!?
There is no way I could ever come up with an exhaustive list of reasons why anyone should blog but here are a few good ones (should you need more of a nudge):
- Professional Growth: As you may be able to guess, I’m not sure I could come up with a better way to grow yourself professionally than by reading and writing about your craft.
- Networking/PLN: Putting your ideas out on the internet is a great way to get feedback from others in your personal/professional learning network. Conversations that you would normally never be able to have become options when you share your work/ideas with the world.
- Positive Exposure: Your online presence is becoming (or perhaps already is) a very important part of your professional portfolio. Sharing your educational thoughts is a big step toward showing the world where your educational beliefs/ideas lie. (Prospective employers LOVE to see a positive presence!) AND sometimes cool stuff like this happens…
If you’re still unsure, I’d like to encourage you to try…just try. Don’t publish anything yet, take some time to sit down each week and just write. Use Word, Google Docs, or whatever and save your work. Write about an idea that struck you, an article you read, or in response to something you’ve seen…it doesn’t even have to be about education! Just start the practice of sitting down to write. Give it a shot, in a couple weeks I’ll share some tips and articles about setting up your blog…by then you’ll already have some practice and a good idea of what your writing voice sounds like 🙂