A little while ago I published the 100th blog on this site, and celebrated two years since I started blogging. It got me thinking about why I do this whole thing, and why I started in the first place. I came up with four key reasons.
I started blogging just over two years ago when I was heading over to England for some job interviews to teach there. I had done a course on blogging as part of my Masters of Science Communication degree and wanted to share my experiences of the week with friends and family back home. I blogged about the beginnings of my experiences teaching in London, as well as our travels around. If anyone is interested, the site is still here, but I don’t keep it active any more.
Pretty soon I tired of travel blogging. To be completely honest, I left it too long after one trip and didn’t feel like I could do it justice, so I just let it slide. I still enjoyed writing though, so decided to turn to writing about my teaching instead.
For those who have been here since the beginning (thank you, by the way!) this site started out under a different name, Scienceteaching.info, and the focus was meant to be on being a science teacher. Instead I found myself writing more about the human side of teaching in general, and increasingly less about things specific to teaching science.
Eventually I made the decision to officially change the focus, after I realised that I was filling a bit of a gap in the market. There are loads of blogs out there that talk about teaching, but not many that touch on the personal things, the vulnerabilities and strengths. People were more interested in those articles than the ones that talked about resources or classroom ideas.
Now I’ve written over 100 posts, though you won’t find them all on the site now. Some have been removed due to irrelevance to this new site-direction, and many have yet to be published. In terms of published posts, there are now a few guests who have written for me, and I hope to really expand down that path.
But for myself, now that I am a couple of years on in this venture, I’ve been really thinking about why I do it all in the first place. I came up with four key reasons. If you blog yourself, I wonder how many of these reasons line up with your own?
It Can Be Very Cathartic To Write About Your Day
Perhaps the biggest reason why I have kept blogging after so long is that I find it cathartic.
Talking about our experiences is important, but sometimes at the end of a long school day talking with literally 150 different people I’m emotionally and physically drained and just don’t want to talk any more. I get home, say hello to my husband, and just want to sit in quiet with no conversation.
Sometimes an event has affected me so greatly that I don’t really want to talk about it, or conversely I want to talk about it with as many people as possible (sometimes doubling up on conversations with the same people). In both of those cases I’ve found writing it out helps a lot.
There’s something very special about writing about your experiences. I guess that’s why people have been writing diaries, and now the online version in blogs, for centuries.
It’s a whole different feeling to write about something instead of talk about it. I find it draws out some of the poison of negative events, and enhances the light of positive ones. It really helps me to put things in perspective.
I’m also able to properly reflect on situations, needing to spell them out properly for strangers to understand the whole story. When you talk about familiar situations with familiar people you often gloss over details, but when it’s a stranger you need a lot more depth. Because of that I’m better able to analyse the situations and my reactions to them, which is a fantastic reflection tool. And as teachers, reflection really does need to be a daily occurrence.
It’s A Great Way To Share Ideas and Experiences
All of us teachers have loads of ideas floating around in our heads. Ideas about activities, lessons, students, how the school is run, what it’s like to live the life of a teacher. I enjoy sharing my ideas, and this is the perfect place to do it on a larger scale. I’m not really good at presentations (and to be fair, not sure what I have to say is worthy of one), but writing is something that I enjoy and I think I’m pretty good at.
Since changing track with the site, I’ve realised that teachers rarely share ideas about the human side of teaching on the internet. Sure we all talk about it with other teachers, and our family and friends, but there aren’t too many places on the internet for it.
Many people have commented that they love this blog because of the open and honest way I write about my experiences, and I think that’s very important. ‘Teachers as people’ is an idea that is overlooked by far too many people, particularly those who are passing judgement on the profession, so I really enjoy sharing ideas about the personal and human side of it all. Occasionally I will still write about activities, pedagogy, reviews, etc. To be completely honest though, those posts perform far less successfully, which tells me that people are less interested in them (at least less interested in me writing about them, and I’m sure that’s because they get far better versions of that sort of thing from other blogs).
Let’s Be Honest, Part Of It Is Self-gratification
I’m not going to lie about this one, even though it might turn some people off because they’ll see it as arrogant, so I hope you’ll appreciate my honesty and don’t form some sort of bad judgement because of it. But the truth is, the more people read my blog, the more encouragement it gives me and the more I want to write.
It is a very good feeling when people agree with your thoughts and ideas. Even better so when it’s a complete stranger on the internet. Don’t believe me? Just look at things like Instagram – you’re considered the most successful when you have the most strangers liking your stuff.
While a lot of people might disagree or be too embarrassed to admit it, most bloggers blog because they like people reading and liking their stuff. Even better if people comment on and share it. There is a definite thrill when you see those page hits go up and you know people are enjoying reading your stuff.
Some even do it purely to make a name for themselves and find a little slice of fame, or to make some money. I don’t currently make any money off this site, but I won’t lie and say that wouldn’t make it more enjoyable. Everyone would love to get paid for their hobby, and blogging is one of those hobbies that you can potentially earn from. One day I might, but not for now.
I Wish I Were Better At Starting Conversations
This one is a big reason for me, but hasn’t worked out the way I’d have liked it to.
I really want to start conversations about the human side of teaching. Sometimes that works when I share posts in various groups on Facebook, but it doesn’t happen nearly as often as I like.
I truly love when people read something I write and comment on it. I really would like to know people’s thoughts about the things I’m writing about. Have you experienced something similar? Do you have some advice for me? Did you enjoy (or maybe not enjoy) the way I talked about something? Please let me know!
I want us teachers to be more open to sharing our experiences with people outside of our staff rooms and families. It is so very useful and reassuring to know other teachers are having similar experiences as us, and even better when we can discuss them and offer advice or more ideas.
It is even more valuable for beginning teachers. I can’t tell you how many times beginning teachers have contacted me to say thank you for me or a guest author discussing something that they thought they were alone in experiencing. If you an experienced teacher, sharing your stories with the newbies is more valuable than you know. Maybe you remember what it was like when you first started?
If you’re ever reading one of our posts and have thoughts on it, please actually comment with them! Whether here or on Facebook, let’s start actually having conversations about this stuff, instead of just reading, nodding, and moving on. Even if you’re not a teacher, maybe you’re a parent or student or just random on the internet, we’d all genuinely still love to hear your thoughts.
Unless my posts aren’t actually interesting enough to comment on? If so, please let me know because that’s pretty embarrassing and I need to up my game…
Would You Blog?
Where do I see this blog site heading in the future? Well that really depends on people like you!
My ideal is to expand this out so that teachers from all around the world share their experiences, but so far people are extremely reluctant to write.
Many say that they don’t have anything interesting to write about. This, however, is utter nonsense. I’d like to use stronger language here, but I decided a while ago to keep this site as professional as possible, so that rules out swearing. We teachers have new stories on a daily basis, ones we share with colleagues, family and friends. Some are funny, some are frustrating, some are sad, some are true celebrations. These are the things I write about and thousands of people read, so there’s no reason why you can’t write about them too.
Others say that they aren’t good writers, which could very well be true but I’m not looking for professionals, I’m looking for reality. I don’t care if it’s poorly written or messy. If it comes down to it I am fully trained in copy-editing and can make you seem like the best writer in the world, or at the very least I can interview you and write it all myself.
Most often, though, no one seems to have the time. I completely understand this one, it is difficult to find time for something that you don’t prioritise. Even my ‘regular’ authors don’t write nearly as often as I’d love for them to. Writing a post doesn’t have to be a big deal though, it’s just one of those things you need to sit down and start. This post took me about 2 hours to write, but only because I was having conversations on Facebook, looking at buying a new watch, talking with my husband/watching him play Destiny, and reading comment threads at the same time. What you write as a blog post certainly doesn’t need to take that long, or be as long as this one is. Whatever you come up with is what you come up with – sometimes it’s short and sometimes it’s long. It really doesn’t matter!
So please, if it’s at all even remotely interesting to you, considering giving it a go. Sit down one evening with an open word document, and just start writing about something that happened that day. Who was involved? How did it make you feel? Did you learn anything? Then when you’ve finished your story, send it to me and I can have a look at it for you (read: post it on this site and have it read by potentially 2000 people).
I’d love to learn about other teaching blogs. If you read and love other ones, please pop them in the comments for me. Or better yet, if you have a teaching blog of your own let me know what it is, and why you do it! And if you’d love to write a guest post, I’m more than happy to link-share and cross-promote, just get in touch!
About the Author:
Emily is a secondary science and math teacher in Australia. She enjoys blogging about her experiences, facilitating the ‘light bulb’ moment in her students, and drinking tea and wine. Emily is currently on maternity leave with her first child. You can read more teaching articles from Emily here, or about her life as a new mum over at Actual Mums.