Every year it happens. I’m hit with a moment of inspiration and I think, “This year will be the year. This is the year I make my teacher blog fly.” And every year, it happens the same way. I get the blog started. I get a few posts in, and then school starts. Blog game over.
I think there are several reasons why I haven’t been able to sustain a blog while teaching. I do love blogging. I love creating them, writing for them, and reading others’ blogs, but I somehow struggle to maintain this once the school year starts. One big reason for this is time. During the school year, there is so little time during the week to spend on a creative and thoughtful writing endeavor, because there are lessons to plan, papers to grade and now, anchor charts to create. (Wink. I’m terrible at anchor charts, but admittedly a good anchor chart has it’s place in the classroom. Personally, I’m more of an infographic gal myself. More about anchor charts in another post, I hope.) Since time for creative reflection is a scarce commodity during the school year, I have prioritized other more pressing projects before the blog.
Another reason is lack of vision and purpose for the blog. I spent nine years at one grade level (first grade in a Title 1 school during the NCLB years). That was the longest stretch at one grade level. The rest of my 20 year career, I have spent changing grade levels (and names) every two to three years. Recently, I even changed school districts, cities, country of residence. Creating a blog title and blog focus (not to mention URL to match) that was descriptive enough and yet flexible enough to adapt to whatever changes might happen in my specific teaching situation from year to year was challenging. I also wanted the blog to be something more than me, your everyday classroom teacher, prattling on about the latest art project we did in class or the latest writing project we completed. While I fully intend to prattle on about these things in some of my posts, I wanted my blogs to also be a place for me to reflect on my practice and to engage with other educators as I seek to improve myself and my practice. I wanted a broader reach.
There are other reasons for blog failure, as well. The constant criticism I have of myself whenever I stumble across another teacher, who is amazing in the classroom and also has a spectacular blog presence. The thoughts of “Who do I think I am to even attempt that?” or “Wow. Why should I bother? I’m such an amateur.” Or this, “What on earth kind of time does that take? Does anyone less than a superhuman have that time?” And the worst, “I can’t write like that!” (And don’t my students often feel that way when faced with their own overwhelming learning tasks? I can totally relate to them.) In spite of all the discouragement that could get me down, something in me wants to try to make a go of it again and succeed at this blog business. Of late, there is all this information and buzz about Growth Mindset, which I find really freeing. The idea that my success is totally within my control. That I don’t have to be amazing from the first blog post, I can grow and learn my way into it is so empowering. I think I can put all that to work for me on this project.
I’ve lost count how many times I’ve started and not finished a blog, but this time I am confident things will be different. This time, I have a clarity of purpose and a direction I was lacking previously. I can envision the end product in a way I’ve not been able to do before. That’s significant for me. I have purpose, goals, and a vision.
I also know that I am learning and I am not alone. I can build a strong and supportive professional learning network (PLN) and this blog can be the repository for the notes I’m taking, the ideas that grow out of collaboration and interaction. And, yes, it can be a showcase for the projects and accomplishments of my students (in a way that protects their privacy) as I continue to improve my teaching practice. I’m excited and re-energized by the potential for this blog to create and support my own professional development and efforts to collaborate with others.
Instead of blog game over, it’s blog game on for me.
If you are an educator with a blog, what challenges did you encounter as you sought to add content on a regular basis. How did you overcome these challenges?