I've always been a writer. I majored in Communications, and worked in the public relations/communications field before becoming an educator. As such, I was trained on the importance of the message. Words matter. Content matters. It sets the tone for who we are as educators, and as professionals.
Although our media culture seems so free and easy, teachers should be aware of a few things before diving head first into teacher blogging.
Here are a few suggestions for setting a positive message as a blogger:
- Remember: It's Public- A blog can feel like a personal journal. It's a blank page to be written upon. We may want to shout all of our frustrations and woes of the classroom, but be careful on this point. Blogging is out there for everyone to read.
- Do not use foul language: This is off-putting to the reader, and will cause judgement. You can feel strongly about something without using bad language. Avoid it at all costs.
- Never use the name of your school or fellow teachers: I consider blogging as a personal brand. A teacher can be a educational professional, and not just an employee of a particular school. However, as an employee, never bring your fellow teachers, principal, students, or school name into the mix. If I need to blog using a student's name to illustrate an example, I always use a pseudonym.
- Think "I": I usually write in the first or third person. Teacher blogs serve best as personal reflection tools or sharing of information.
- Writing in the first person puts the writing on me, and my own personal improvement. Who can fault someone for trying to improve themselves?
- Writing in third person, using the pronouns- he, she, it, offers a wider scope and is more informational. This allows the readers to take it or leave it. It's not personal, just information.
- As a writer, I avoid the word, "you" at all costs. To the reader, it feels as though the writer is speaking directly to him or her. Second person is usually used in offering directions-telling someone to do something. Although, it may seem more conversational, the word "you" can be alarming to the reader.
- Keep It Positive, but Realistic: Positive messages are best, but it can be real. For the purposes of my teaching, I always work to end on a positive note. If I am personally struggling with something in the classroom, how can my message improve my instruction? How can I turn it around for myself, and possibly help others who may also be struggling?
- Would my husband, wife, mom, dad, sister, brother, principal, or fellow teachers want to read my post? : I may be getting a little over paranoid here, but I can't help but ask the question. I'm always amazed at the messages I get from teachers who enjoyed a blog post that I wrote months ago. I think, "Really, it's still circulating?" The posts are public, so share them with the people closest to you first. What would they say? Would they be proud to share it with others?
- Use it to Guide Instruction: Blogging has made me a better teacher. I have no doubt about it. Before reflecting, I'd often get depressed, unsure of where to go with my instruction as a new teacher. Reflecting just once a week, has helped me tremendously, and kept me looking up in a positive direction. Keeping my writing uplifting helps me to keep mental clarity and offers a guide to effective instruction.
- Illustrate Strengths: Writing is an opportunity to illustrate strengths. What is going right in the classroom? Educators want to read about successes, so they can in turn create success. This creates a positive outlook for the writer, and offers hope to others who may be currently struggling. It's great to write about the triumphs!
Just a few tips to chew on....