Who Are You Blogging For?
Blogging should first and foremost be of value to the sharer. My personal mission with blogging is to better develop my educational ideas so that I can better educate my students. When I began writing my blog posts, I found that my motivation to make my ideas "airtight" increased - to rethink all possible angles, to craft my ideas and transform them from something good into something great. My ideas became more than a simple thought that floated through my mind just as I was about to fall asleep; they became strategized published works and they developed further than I could have imagined some of them developing. Reflective processes are greatly strengthened as a result of sharing because you anticipate the criticism before it even comes. It should be considered that you are very likely impacting and helping others through the sharing of your ideas, but it should not be your primary focus. While it's great to help others as a result of your blog, you should be helping yourself first!
Blogging helped me to become more purposeful with what I wanted to share. I blogged with intent. I blogged because I wanted to reflect on something, not because I hadn't posted that day, that week, or whatever. One of my colleagues made a comment this summer on "feeling guilty" because they hadn't posted in awhile. In my mind, if you have to force out a post, you are posting for the wrong reasons. When you begin to blog, you need to make sure that your purpose for posting outweighs your obligation to attend to it. It should help to propel your educational practice, not stress you out.
I Don't Have the Gift of the Written Word!
What if I don't have the ability to "box up ideas" and tie a bow on them? Guess what? That ability doesn't develop overnight. Worse yet, what if I don't have any ideas?! Relax! The best writers in the world didn't learn their craft by opening up a webpage, slapping random ideas onto it, and clicking "publish." They brainstormed. They dreamed. They wrote. They re-wrote. They threw it out. And then they started again. Even as I write this very post, I'm keeping notes for myself at the bottom of the text box of what I need to accomplish in this post and things I've cut out because they just don't fit. Some of those cuts have even given me ideas for future posts. As an added bonus, blogging has helped to further develop my writing abilities and to forge my own personal style . As you, too, continue to practice that craft, you, too, will become better at it.
What Are People Going To Say About It?
Of course, we have to touch on criticism. Criticism is a tricky concept to address because everyone takes it differently. Personally, I've always been the person who has focused on the single piece of negative feedback swimming in the greater sea of positive feedback. I'm finding that there are a ton of people like me who practice that bad habit. However, something that Dave Burgess, author of Teach Like A Pirate, writes about criticism rings mighty true in my ears:
The last thing on this topic: there typically isn't that much criticism to be had in the blogosphere. As mentioned earlier, the tendency to focus on the negative that might happen is what instigates the fear to post in the first place. The truth is this: the online educational world is FULL of positive and amazingly supportive individuals who will undoubtedly extend that same courtesy to you. Feel comfort in knowing that they're anything but the "hungry pack of wolves" that I alluded to at the beginning of this post.
How Do I Start?
That answer is simple: Pick a blogging tool and GO!!!
I use Weebly because I love the drag and drop interface (very easy for beginner bloggers), but there is also Blogger, Edublogs, Wordpress, Tumblr... I'm sure the list goes on. Pick one that fits with your tech abilities and/or workflow. Once you have it set up, draft a bunch of different working titles based on your ideas and topics of interest. I usually have 5-6 saved drafts going at one time and I'll add pieces to them here and there as I see fit. Honestly, though, most of the time I just get an idea and complete the post in the same day. It really helps me sort out the weaker topics that I come up with and builds relevance for my day-to-day observations of my world or areas I need to build upon for my teaching practice.
It is my hope that this post can inspire new bloggers to take the plunge and start sharing their innovative ideas. I invite all of my readers, whether new to blogging or a seasoned blogger, to continue this conversation and share feedback with me by leaving a comment below. Thanks for reading!