Wednesday, January 24, 2018

So You Want to Blog?

Over these past years, there have been three very important factors which have contributed to my development as a CI teacher: attending national CI conferences such as NTPRS (2014 and 2015) and IFLT (2016 and 2017), collaborating with other CI teachers, and reading blogs by fellow CI teachers. If you look at the right sidebar, you will see the blogs which I read on a regular basis (and I will be adding more soon). Each of these blogs has helped me tremendously in my journey as a CI teacher, and as far as I am concerned, these bloggers are rock stars in my book - I cannot tell you how starstruck I get when I see them in person!

If you are reading this and do not have a blog, consider starting a pedagogical blog of your own for one very simple reason: You have a voice. As much as you may not think that you have anything to say, you actually do. It does not have to be anything profound - it just needs to come from your heart. Maybe you have a particular activity/strategy which you found that worked well with your students. Maybe you have some particular insight or comment about an issue in education. Maybe you wish to write and to chronicle your time as a teacher.

Back in 2013, I never envisioned myself having a blog, and when I did begin blogging, my target audience was only Latin teachers (read here for my very first post). My goal was eventually to have 15 readers; I remember thinking, "Gosh, if I can get maybe 15 Latin teachers to read this, that would be cool!" Now four years later in 2018, my audience includes teachers from all languages, and my blog just passed 300,000 page views. 

If you are thinking of starting up a blog, here are a few things to consider:
  • Starting a blog is very easy, but maintaining one is not. It takes tremendous dedication and time. There are numerous blogs out there which start out strongly but fizzle out after a few entries. I am amazed that I have been able to maintain weekly entries for the most part. When writing a blog, you suddenly become aware of how important it is to "feed the beast" - if you get out of the habit of posting, then the harder it becomes to jump back into it. Whenever I have inspiration, I will write up a post but not necessarily publish it right away. I have about 30 unpublished blog posts from over the years which are in draft form, because at one time, I started them but never finished. These eventually do become posts (for the record, I have been sitting on this particular blog post for a year but never finished it until today). 
  • Finding an audience: Social media is a great way to publicize one's blog. Twitter is the only form of social media which I use, as my life is Facebook free. I do not take in part in any Facebook chats related to CI, nor do I use Instagram or Snapchat. Whenever I upload a new post on my blog, I always use the hashtags #latinteach #tprs #tci and #langchat. I am also very appreciative anytime someone likes my tweet or retweets it. Also, any time I give a presentation, I always list my blog on the opening slide. Quite honestly, my best publicity is from other teachers who will publicize a post in various Facebook teacher groups. I am also so thrilled when I attend a CI presentation and find that my blog is listed in the presentation as a resource!
  • Would you still continue your blog if only ten people were to read it? Many times, it is easy to think that your blog has no value because (in your mind) not many people are not reading it. Keep in mind though: there are people out there who will value what you have to say - write for them. Do not base your importance on the number of comments which you receive or do not receive. In this shallow digital social media world of likes/not likes, favorites, and mentions, it is very easy to get sucked into that type of thinking.
So consider blogging. Blogger (Google-based) and WordPress (Microsoft-based) are two great platforms for blogs. If you start one up as a result of reading this, let me know! I will add you to my sidebar of blogs to check out!

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