Another Year Gone By…
Today is my 2nd Blogiversary. It’s hard to believe that it has been two years since I began sharing my reflections on teaching with the language teaching world and it’s even harder to believe that anybody has been paying attention to them!
Thanks to everyone out there who has read and commented!
Writing this blog has had a lot of benefits for me as a teacher. I recommend everyone start your own blog about your classroom! Lots of different teachers have lots of different blogs. Mine is a more confessional/look-at-what-my-students-just-did/Here’s-how-I-dealt-with-a-tough-situation blog. It started out as something for me to refer back to and has grown into something that matters (hopefully…a little bit…) to other teachers. Other teachers create activities and tasks to share with the world; others talk about the science of language acquisition; others talk about a specific method (like TPRS or OWL); some are written by teachers just starting out and trying something new; some are written by experienced teachers who want to pass what they have learned to another generation of teachers. Whatever category you fall into (or even if what you write about is in a whole new category that no one has ever thought of), writing a language teaching blog is wonderful.
Writing My Own Blog? Really? It Seems Like a Lot of Time…
Blogging does indeed take time. There is the time it takes to decide what to write about; the time it takes to write a first (and second, and third…) draft; the time it takes to find or create pictures and write the best tweet to promote each post. These things take time, but it is time that you are spending thinking about your instruction.
Blogging provides language teachers with multiple opportunities, like:
- Having a place to reflect on what’s going on in the classroom:
One of the biggest benefits of blogging about my class has been that I have been able to actively reflect on what I’m doing and why I’m doing it. When I sit down to write a post for the blog, it almost always starts one way and, as I gather my thoughts and figure out how to talk about what I experienced, changes into something completely different. This post itself is a great example. I didn’t start out with the intention of imploring teachers to blog their reflections on teaching, my original plan was to thank everyone out there who has supported me and this blog for 2 years. As I wrote, my thoughts evolved. Thinking about the past two years of teaching and blogging got me thinking about the benefits in my teaching and in my students’ achievement since I started writing about it.
I realized that sitting down and forcing myself to really think about what went right, what went wrong, and why has made me a better teacher. And it can do the same thing for anyone.
Without looking back, there can be no forward progress. Without reflection, there is no improvement.
2. Connecting with other teachers
I have been able to meet (online or in person) many different teachers through this blog (and through #langchat). Comments, followers, recommendations from other bloggers: all these things have shown me that even though I am alone in teaching foreign language at my school, I am not alone in the world. A whole world of language teachers has been opened to me, I just had to know where to look.
Reach out to teachers whose blogs you read and build a community of like-minded teachers for yourself to fall back on or to turn to when you’re struggling. I promise: any teacher-blogger will be happy to answer any questions you have and to be there to help you out.
3. Building the confidence (and the material) to get out there and share ideas at regional or national conferences
7 years ago, during my 1st year of teaching K-8, I never in a million years would have guessed that I would be presenting at a conference. “That is for people who know what they’re doing,” I’d say. But that’s not the case at all (I mean, it is the case, the people who are presenting know what they’re doing!). What I mean to say is, you don’t have to be a nationally renowned expert to have great ideas to share with other teachers. You don’t have to have an advanced degree to be able to get in a room with teachers and teach them about something—a method, a technique, an activity.
The other thing that was a stumbling block right at the beginning was, “what do I talk about?” I didn’t know what I had that I could share with others. But when I looked back on what I was writing about after months of blogging, I saw that the presentation was practically written for me. I presented on switching my curriculum from a text-book based curriculum to an input-based curriculum. It was something I knew I could talk about because I had already done it!
And Guess what?!? I have another SCOLT presentation in 2017, right in my hometown (Orlando, FL-come and meet me!).
There are many more benefits to blogging that I don’t take advantage of, such as making money from online ads on the blog and as a platform to advertise products that you’ve made and sell on TpT or other places. These things can make the time spent blogging even more worth it.
Now Go Start That Blog!
Even if no one reads it (but trust me, they will), you will have a place to think about what makes you tick while you teach and a place to figure out how to get better.