I remember 2 years ago when I first formed this blog. My excitement when I had my first page views was matched by my surprise that anyone found it interesting! 41690 page views later and I thought I would summarise some of the main reasons why any teacher might want to maintain a blog site. These are not listed in order of importance, simply my own musings.
1) It is a great way of sifting through one's own thoughts and classroom practices. Having to explain what you are doing (hopefully!) to an audience helps you to clarify your ideas. Reflecting on what you do can help you focus more clearly on what is really useful and separate that from what is merely a bit of window dressing.
2) It has been a wonderful way of connecting to a host of creative and inspirational colleagues across the world and even outside of my personal subject discipline of being a language teacher. It would have cost me a fortune in time and money to make these links in any other way than via the internet. Simply put, it would never have happened.
For most of my professional life, I felt that I was pretty isolated in the classroom. I was rarely given feedback as to how well I was doing.
I was a saddo who looked forward to Ofsted inspections! They were the only occasions when I was given very positive feedback. Most of the rest of the time your efforts passed unnoticed, unrecognised, unless you fouled up when, of course, people took a keen interest and let you know it.
If I could change one thing in any school that I think would make the biggest difference to a school's success it would be to urge any SMT to devise a culture of encouraging, rewarding, praising the staff for the work they do. How ironic that schools whose sole purpose is to inspire pupils to grow and learn so often conspire to belittle and beat down the staff they rely on to achieve the former.
Writing a blog has catapulted me out of that very narrow world of my own classroom. I have received such encouragement from wonderful collegaues and had the chance to learn a lot from them in return. As I have freely volunteered resources and ideas that have taken me many hours of time and effort to produce, I have found that this has been reciprocated by what others have passed on to me.
It has been the vehicle through which I have built a very collegiate virtual staffroom of colleagues generous with their own time and resources.
3) It is a fantastic online CV. It provides any potential employer with an instant window onto all that you can do best. It lends you a great deal of credibility.
4) It is a useful online storage site. As well as everyone else being able to access my site, I have used it to retrieve and download my own resources!
5) It will be a useful point of reference now that I am being asked to offer training. I know many other MFL trainers use their blogs for this too and post the digest of what they have spoken about with links to all the resources needed. CPD is greatly enhanced by not having to take copious notes at a training session.
6) As with any diary, it enables you to reflect on your own journey over a period of time. It also provides me with a reminder of ideas I have had that I forget about in the whirl of surviving in the classroom. I'm reminded me of things that I know to be really useful but have allowed to lapse from my own teaching. At any time, I can dip into this bank of ideas that I know to work and retrieve them. If others also find them to be useful, great!
So, if you are wondering whether to start a blog or not, have a go!
I read a really great quote from Sir Isaac Newton who when praised about his own achievements humbly wrote "If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants"
Most of us do not consider ourselves to be 'giants' in our fields, more like 'pygmies'. We don't tend to feel we have any special talents, anything important to say, anything interesting to share. Yet even if I 'stand on the shoulders of pygmies' to paraphrase Sir Isaac, I am still going to be able to see further than I otherwise would.
What you have to share is important. It could be the one thing that changes another teacher's whole perspective, or simply provide a colleague with an idea that turns a good lesson into an outstanding one. Your experience counts! And the more ideas you share, you will find yourself growing from a pygmy into a giant.
What a humbling and satisfying experience it is to know that you have been the source of an idea that has helped lift and inspire someone else, helping them to see further!