By CUE Member and guest blogger Bill Selak
Do you remember that credential class when you had to create a blog? I’m guessing the last post that is on it is from the last week of the course and you don’t even remember how to log in (if you even remember what website it’s on).
That’s okay though, because that was a practice blog. Now it’s time to start a professional blog. It will improve your classroom, your attitude and your professional impact, even your career. It will also form the core of your social media and search engine reach by creating quality links that share your content across the social media platforms you use now or are planning to build.
I spend a lot of time on Twitter and I’ve integrated many excellent ideas I read about on Twitter. However, my time on Twitter is spent digesting other people’s content. By disciplining myself to write regularly about educational technology used in my classroom, I found it helps me look for new ways to incorporate technology in the classroom. As a result, my classroom has become more dynamic and more innovative. If I wasn’t blogging on a regular basis, this simply would not have happened.
When you have to write formal lesson plans there is usually a section titled “self-assessment.” I don’t know a single teacher that actually stops at the end of the school day and reflects on every lesson. However, a blog is a self-assessment. Since I began blogging regularly, I actually reflect at the end of every classroom day about what went well and how I could improve a lesson for future classes. Often this reflection results in technology integration and becomes a blog post. This absolutely makes me a better teacher, engages students more and gives me great content to share on my blog, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.
Blog articles also inspire other educators. Your blog should share your successes and failures. Other teachers will grow through your reflections. On my blog, I see comments like, “I thought I was the only one that felt that way” or “I didn’t realize other teachers did that too.” With each post, each shared link, the Ed Tech community is supported and strengthened.
Try not to get too caught up in the length of your blog posts or how polished they are. Definitely edit them and check for typos, but don’t be afraid to put an unfinished idea out there. If the idea isn’t fully formed, you can always blog about it again. Some topics lend themselves to two or three installments. The point is, come up with an idea, refine it and post it. It might just spark an idea for another educator.
Your latest blog post is part of your resume. If you only post your thoughts on Twitter, Google+ and/or Facebook there is no real record for search engines and people to find. Start a simple blog site (if you have not already), take some time to make sure it is simple and attractive and go! You want your blog to show up when people Google you.
This speaks to how important it is to have your original work on your own website. Potential employers will definitely Google you and check out your website. They will be able to see all the innovative Ed Tech ideas you have. Keep in mind, by cross posting links to your blogs on your social media channels, you can increase the number of people who read, share and comment on your posts. This will not only increase the likelihood of Google finding you over time but also the content itself. Google and other search engines are placing increasing importance on links to and from Facebook, Google+, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn so be sure and cross post often.
What this results in is slowly but surely creating an impressive digital footprint generated from your blog and when you share it. You can start a blog on your own website using WordPress, which is essentially an easy to use content management system, or you can use free blog platforms like Edublogs or Blogger.
The most important thing I’ve done in my career was resolving to blog weekly and then done it. Since I have been blogging regularly many amazing things have happened:
- Several live presentations have grown out of blog posts
- I’ve been retained for consulting based on ideas from a single blog post
- I have been invited to post guest blog posts on several websites
These results would never have happened if I was not blogging on a regular basis. Remember, you don’t really know how you feel or how much to know about something until you’ve written it down.
Bill Selak is an elementary music teacher and an adjunct faculty member at Azusa Pacific University and University of La Verne. He served on the California State Superintendent’s Education Technology Task Force, and is on the EdCampSFBay and EdCampLA planning teams. He earned his Master’s in Educational Technology at Azusa Pacific University. You can find Bill online here.