5 Reasons Educators Should Blog

My daughter Abby (with the Mac) and my niece Ashley

Once a week, a new to-do pops up on my productivity software client that alerts me that it’s time to do a blog entry. Most of the time I admire the line and proceed to complete a dozen other tasks that, if not completed, will affect my job performance. Yet, I am fully aware that I am a part-time Web 2.0 evangelist like many of you. Here are a few reasons why educators should blog:

1. Writing requires reflection and greater understanding.

I completed a very non-scientific experiment the last two weeks. In asking people I know how they’re doing, the most common answer is: busy!  To write effectively, one must separate themselves from the noise of life and think deeply about important issues. This leads to reflection and usually greater understanding about pedagogical issues.

2. Blogging begins the cycle of collaboration.

At the heart of Web 2.0 is collaboration; a chance to not simply shout one’s thoughts but be held accountable by colleagues via blog comments just below the post. Unlike online newspapers with their ability to create a non-descript username, blogs are honest and open. And, for the most part, blogging participants are pretty respectful toward each other.

3. Blogging allows the writer a chance to have a digital home.

With the explosion of social media, a blog can be a portal for a social media aficionado. If you point everyone to your blog, they can find you on Twitter, Facebook, other blogs, Diigo, Tumblr, Podcasts…

4. A blog can help to brand the writer and build your platform.

Michael Hyatt, a former CEO of a publishing company, recently wrote Platform – Get Noticed in a Noisy World and I was privileged to be on his Launch Team, a group of 100 people who received the book in advance. Michael’s growth as a blogger is powerful. His book provides ideas on how to use one’s blog (among other tools) to grow a business, product, or brand. Educators are not generally comfortable with self-promotion but if we see growing our brand as supporting our students through our own words and actions online, then it’s justifiable.

5. Blogging encourages students to do the same.

Will Richardson argues that students aren’t really digital natives. In reality, while they may have little fear in using digital technology, they don’t really know how to appropriately utilize those tools. We can model blogging for our students so they can write for a purpose and for an audience.

I have a goal beginning July 1…two blog posts a week minimum. Anyone up for that challenge?

75 comments for “5 Reasons Educators Should Blog

  1. June 10, 2012 at 10:03 am

    Thank you. I agree but it sometimes feels like more work that nobody is reading, though just the act of writing and reflecting makes it worth the time. I’ll set an alarm on my calendar to remind me to post.

    • June 10, 2012 at 6:00 pm

      Hi Connie-I have felt the same way. The process of blogging takes so much time. I’ve found some tools help. I keep a folder in Evernote just for ideas as they tend to come at spurious times. I am trying MarsEdit (Mac software) which is truly much more intuitive than WordPress to blog. I have also been encouraged to write entries that are closer to 500 words which is not only easier to write but readers are more likely to read them. It’s hard writing a treatise every time. Love to read your material-where are you?

  2. June 10, 2012 at 12:17 pm

    Great bit, Bill.

    Couldn’t agree more with your five reasons, too. Blogging has filled that role in my life for several years now.

    I think your reasons represent important lessons for our students, too. They’re just as busy — and just as in need of time and space for reflection — as we are.

    I think my goal for next year might be to give my kids more opportunity to blog regularly.

    Thanks for this,
    Bill

    • June 10, 2012 at 6:04 pm

      HI Bill:

      Thanks for the kind words. I have been producing a blog on Blogster every week that replaces my weekly “Sunday Blast” email. Over time, I hope it encourages teachers to use similar software to blog themselves or teach their students to blog. Of course, you have one of the best blogs out there at: http://teacherleaders.typepad.com/the_tempered_radical/

      Bill

  3. June 10, 2012 at 2:57 pm

    Really, between blogging, tweeting, texting, Facebooking, PLNs, etc, when do some of you have time for a quiet, normal life free of all that clutter?

    It’s no wonder so many people claim to be stressed out, overloaded, overworked, and put upon by a world that won’t stop intruding on their personal space.

    Truthfully, 90% of all social media based communication is either unoriginal restatement of what someone else already wrote elsewhere or gratuitous backslapping or glad handing in order to suck up to someone.

    It’s as if many of you have restructured Maslow’s hierarchy to place your belongingness need on par with food, water, sleep, air. Certainly this need seems to have supplanted safety and health for many of you, since you gladly share an abundance of personal information with virtual strangers you’ve never met and likely will never meet in your lifetime. As for health, I’ve written many times about the addictive properties of social media and video games that too many people, even highly trained medical professionals, are unwilling to address seriously.

    • June 10, 2012 at 6:06 pm

      Hi Mark:

      I think you have a good point. I’m guessing that social media is often an escape from interacting with family and friends and for others it becomes addictive. I can honestly say that social media takes up about 20 minutes a day during the week and perhaps another hour on weekends. That’s not too shabby, but I don’t have an addictive personality and I love being with family. As acerbic as your post may appear, I think you bring up excellent points. Perhaps it’s time with address this issue with our students as well.

      Bill

      • June 10, 2012 at 6:51 pm

        Bill, It’s refreshing to learn of someone who tempers their activities re: social media with a bit of restraint and self-control. I find it chilling that people need to get away from bona fide concrete vis-a-vis contact with family and friends by withdrawing into the more abstract impersonal world of the internet.

        I have to keep in mind that the percentage of educators addicted to social media and their iFads has to be less than 50%. These are the ones who create the impression that if present students aren’t as immersed (or addicted) as they are, they will not achieve some alleged intellectual milestone that has the label of “21st Century” attached to it.

        I’m not so sure if enough teachers are warning kids about electromagnetic exposure from cell phones, or the dangerously addictive nature of too much video gaming. No joke, there is a neurologist blogging on George Lucas’s edutopia.org who is pushing for more video gaming in the classroom without offering any information on excessive dopamine releases and the brain development of children.

        I responded with how I found such advocacy morally and ethically reprehensible. But as long as their are profit margins to be met (read: LucasArts, Apple, anyone from Silicon Valley) then professionals supposedly working in the best interests of children will be beholden to more superficial interests unconnected to proper child development.

        • June 11, 2012 at 12:44 am

          Mark, it seems that this massive change toward learning via screens has been accepted without a thought to the consequences or at least how this may change brains. I’ll admit…I read nearly all of my books and other literature via screen now. My mother in law gave me the Steve Jobs biography for Christmas and my immediate thought was, shoot…I can’t read it on my iPad.

          Bill

          • June 11, 2012 at 4:04 am

            A book won’t run out of battery power or ever need to be plugged into the wall to “recharge.” A book doesn’t shatter when you drop it.

            I’ve tried pleasure reading from a screen and it’s a substandard experience for me.

          • June 13, 2012 at 12:28 am

            I enjoyed following this thread. Interesting argument- proper use of technology is all about balance and it is our responsibility as educators to model this in our own lives. Technology is invading our lives whether we like it or not and we as educators need to embrace this tool and help students to develop the digital citizenship skills they need to cope with these profound change in societal norms.

  4. Nancy Alibrandi
    June 10, 2012 at 7:14 pm

    Blogging has been on my mind a lot lately – mainly because communication and PR will be one of my professional development goals for next year. I find the toughest part is to get started. Once I get a few posts done, I actually enjoy writing them. Right now I am struggling with brand and audience. After reading your article, I’m thinking that I just need to write ( “Just do it!” ). I will figure out the rest as I go along . Like Connie, I have sometimes wondered if anyone is reading. I won’t worry about that part for now, because I do see the value of reflection. I also liked your response to Mark, you have obviously found a balance with Social Media that works for you. I’m still trying to find that balance. You have inspired me to accept your challenge (well, half of it…maybe only one blog post a week?). Still trying to find that balance…

  5. June 11, 2012 at 12:56 am

    Nancy, I’m so glad you were inspired! Honestly, by saying two posts a week, I was challenging myself. Writing (digital or otherwise) is so therapeutic and is a highly cognitive activity that allows me to actually ponder what I believe.

  6. Justin Staub
    June 11, 2012 at 1:16 am

    I was told, when Will Richardson toured my school, that I should be blogging. However, I know not all blog sites are alike. Which site would you recommend to begin my blogging lifestyle??

    Thanks.

  7. June 11, 2012 at 1:31 am

    Well, Will is right of course. It may look overwhelming, but check out this incredible list of educational blogs at: http://supportblogging.com/Links+to+School+Bloggers.

    From there you can search for blogs similar to your perspective and experience. I use WordPress for my blogging platform but Blogster is easy and respected as well. Let me know if I can help.

  8. Mike Hosley
    June 11, 2012 at 6:37 am

    Of course, as an educator, I have a captive audience, my students, who have to log in and look at my ramblings and more importantly, my polls, forms, announcements, and everything else that speeds up the learning process like videos, collaborative Google+ hangouts, etc.

    The real revolution, in fact is video via hyperlinks to YouTube, where the repository of information is nicely indexed and easy to reference with your own content. That’s why we blog.

    • June 19, 2012 at 1:41 am

      Yes, a captive audience but what a great role model you are to show the importance of writing authentically to a real audience.

  9. June 11, 2012 at 8:37 am

    Hi Bill, Thanks for outlining the reasons for blogging in such a succinct way. I find that blogging actually saves me time as it helps me to focus my work, and share my vision/goals with colleagues near and far thus saving time when it comes to discussing complex concepts and procedures in our busy school schedules. I also find that blogging improved my ability to revise and develop teaching units–I simply look back at the project write-up and reflection prior to revising and reteaching the unit. Thanks.

    • June 19, 2012 at 1:42 am

      I have rarely heard blogging described as a time saver but what a great comment…perhaps blogging exercises parts of our brains we wouldn’t push otherwise. Excellent thought!

  10. June 11, 2012 at 1:44 pm

    Blogging is great and helpfull.But very little research is done about the wishes of the clients.
    Is it better to send then to receive?

    All the best.

    (The same for online teaching I would say)

    • June 19, 2012 at 1:44 am

      Hi Guido. Do you mean that bloggers are not necessarily thinking about the needs of their audience/readers? That may be true…maybe a good rule of blogging should be to consider the needs of readers and not just assume that since I thought it, it must be useful.

  11. Susan Davidson
    June 11, 2012 at 4:44 pm

    Thank you, Bill! Your blog post (which I was encouraged to read by a colleague via Twitter) coincides nicely with my own recent foray into the world of blogging. As a novice blogger, I am truly enjoying the experience of ‘the pause’ that blogging gives me during a busy day. Reflection, as you mentioned, can be hard to come by given the busyness of our lives–a committment to blog means I am actually more plugged in to my inner thoughts and, dare I say it, core values, concerning educational practice in general and my own professional work in particular. I am trying to keep in mind Will Richardson’s edict of ‘adding value’ when I blog (or tweet or even have a ‘real’ conversation with colleagues)…all in all, blogging as a form of communication is serving me well, so far….thinking about your twice a week challenge: with summer holidays coming on, and wi-fi available in the backyard, I might just take you up on it!

    • June 19, 2012 at 1:46 am

      Yes..adding value! Every time we tweet or post on Facebook, we should treat our PLN with respect and only add to their life. With thousands of tweets streaming in every hour, it’s hard enough to weed through to find value. The same goes for blogging of course. Twice a week!

  12. June 12, 2012 at 12:51 pm

    Thanks Bill,

    I’ll take the challenge. Writing is a great way to help clarify thinking and explore ideas. At the same time, I agree with Mark’s caution about technology’s downside. Tim Challies has an excellent book that covers this topic called The Next Story. http://www.amazon.com/The-Next-Story-Digital-Explosion/dp/0310329035

    Another book, I’ve heard about but not read is called The Shallows. http://www.amazon.com/The-Shallows-Internet-Doing-Brains/dp/0393339750/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1339505455&sr=1-1

    Great food for thought

    Cheers

    Dan

    • July 30, 2012 at 9:28 pm

      HI Daniel,

      Thanks for the book suggestions. I appreciate the counter argument about technology…we passionate educators tend to be swayed easily and balance is so crucial.

      Bill

  13. June 12, 2012 at 4:07 pm

    I am a blogger and teacher – although I don’t blog about education.

    I’m a little puzzled by this: “Unlike online newspapers with their ability to create a non-descript username, blogs are honest and open.” – most commenters I know don’t use their ‘real’ name but an online one!

    • June 19, 2012 at 1:49 am

      I think in the education world, we tend to be pretty transparent and we identify our role in schools openly. I don’t think many of us would find a writer legit without that openness.

  14. June 12, 2012 at 4:11 pm

    My company supports a group of educators and authors blogging together at Literacy Brain Trust. A multi-contributor blog is a good way to get involved in blogging if you’re new and unsure about creating content twice a week or even once a week. All four of our bloggers are new and would love some feedback on their posts.

    Guests posts are also fun. You can write a single post for a colleague’s blog and see how it goes. Literacy Brain Trust is accepting guest posts as well. If you’re an educator and would like to submit a guest post, you can e-mail contact@literacybraintrust.com.

    • June 13, 2012 at 8:15 pm

      Yes, I also blog with a colleague, well we’ve only just started. We are using our blog to reflect on our team teaching project, so blogging helps us distill our observations and synthesize our plans for ‘where to next’ with our class. We are taking turns to blog and so far it has been time consuming, but we’re sure that this public record of our teaching will be valuable for us, our colleagues and possibly a wider audience.

    • June 19, 2012 at 1:52 am

      That’s great Tiffany-everyone should check out http://literacybraintrust.com/.

  15. June 13, 2012 at 2:09 am

    Thanks, Bill for this post. Sometimes I too get discouraged that I don’t get a conversation going on some of my blog posts. I know people are taking a look but not everyone is leaving a message. I’ve committed to commenting whenever I read someone’s blog and so far, so good. I also am still working on blogging once a week though I haven’t done it consistently enough to make it a habit. So, I’ll stick to my once a week goal for now :-). I agree that there needs to be a balance between being online and being present with family and friends. It’s something I work on all the time. I agree that blogging is a great way to reflect on teaching because it’s public. Comments give you a variety of perspectives and ideas that you don’t get when journaling.

    • June 19, 2012 at 1:55 am

      I just wrote on my blog “Principal Reflections” 5 Ways to Increase Hits on a Blog Post”. It’s at: http://billcarozza.com/. I think the first trick is to make blogging a habit. WordPress has great aps for the iPhone and iPad too so you can blog on the road too. Thanks for being a great commenter too!

  16. June 13, 2012 at 5:20 pm

    Great post! I started my own blog two weeks ago.

    My main objective with it is to get more familiar to the technology
    in an attempt to make it part of my practice.

    I do agree with the idea of the teacher as a ‘brand’.

    With everything happening online, the teacher identity on the web is a really important topic for
    all educators.

    Cheers from Brazil!

  17. Candice Logan-Washington
    June 13, 2012 at 9:50 pm

    Blogs facilitate learning and sharing of ideas between teachers and students. Online communication happens much more now than verbal communication. Collaborative online education and planning is the wave of the future.

  18. June 14, 2012 at 3:07 am

    Julie:

    “Technology is invading our lives whether we like it or not and we as educators need to embrace this tool and help students to develop the digital citizenship skills they need to cope with these profound change in societal norms.”

    Interesting that the it’s often same people asserting this charge that technology can’t be (or shouldn’t be) limited are typically the same people who believe standardized testing is the true evil within education that must be changed.

    Personally, I find the slavish devotion to trendy tech that Silicon Valley insists we can’t do without is far more insidious that any bubble test could ever be. I don’t see people walking around like zombies twiddling their thumbs over bubble tests. Laws aren’t being passed prohibiting the use of bubble tests while driving motor vehicles. I don’t read about people becoming addicted to taking bubble tests.

    Absurd comparisons? Yes. Why? Because the way many educators are prioritizing what’s best for children is absurd.

    • June 14, 2012 at 11:59 am

      EDIT: “Interesting that the people asserting the charge that…”

      I’d like to add that the argument of “it’s here anyway” reminds me of adults who think it’s OK to allow condoms for adolescents because they’re going to have sex anyway. These are adults who are afraid to act as true authority figures. They’d rather be “friends” to kids, which is a grave mistake.

      • Anthony Mooring, M.Ed
        June 15, 2012 at 6:05 pm

        The fact that is here means we cannot act like it is not…we need to use this way of communicating to move society, education, and learning forward….what is the best way to do this….sometimes new is not so bad….but I agree adults still have to be adults but we cannot ignore the elephant in the room

        • June 15, 2012 at 10:42 pm

          Sure you can, Anthony, everyone can make a choice to say “no” but a lot of people don’t have the courage to do so, because they don’t want to feel left off the bandwagon.

          People who become suckered in by the messages sent forth by advertising and pop culture marketing are made to feel inadequate if they don’t join the mob.

          This is why the collectivism promoted by Madison Avenue is dangerous. This entire social media mania is also one large lemming march.

          I wish more teachers would find the courage to admit this, but sadly, too many in the education biz who purport to be “leaders” are really followers at the core of the collective.

  19. kharris
    June 15, 2012 at 3:48 pm

    Blogging appears to be a great tool for collaboration and reflection. I am curious as well to see what the researchers say about blogging.

    • Anthony Mooring, M.Ed
      June 15, 2012 at 5:52 pm

      It will be interesting to see if through blogging a agenda like social justice and or equality in education can be more of a prevalent issue

  20. Anthony Mooring, M.Ed
    June 15, 2012 at 5:41 pm

    Very interesting conversation I guess Blogging can be like a conversation one has with a person they meet on a train, flight, or a random place where you may never see the person again. Those conversations can be meaningful or slapstick with little depth or meaning, it depends on the two people. The blogosphere can only useful as we make it….It is critical that we always keep in mind that these conversation are not always facts but opinions and well you know what they say about opinions…..

    • June 17, 2012 at 3:41 pm

      I find this comment interesting, Anthony, because you cite a particular behavioral choice that people are able to make in the presence of strangers met in public settings. At least in that context, I have visual and audio cues to pick up on whereby I can size up the person and make a shrewd assessment of whether or not they pose an immediate threat. On-line, such a consideration is usually unnecessary.

  21. Colleen Cotton
    June 15, 2012 at 7:12 pm

    I used a blog to discuss books I had read, and it was great fun! I would love to start a student blog to discuss projects, assignments, etc. There are so many avenues out there now for such a tool, it is hard to decide what to use. I hope to become more comfortable with all this technology so I can service my students more effeciently and effectively in the future.

    • June 19, 2012 at 1:59 am

      The trick with students is to help them learn appropriate uses of technology…they already feel comfortable with the tool, but rarely do they use these tools in a responsible way. I was speaking to a group of new parents to my school today and I was chatting about the fact that we really need to teach children how to care–they don’t necessarily have that ability out of the gate. The same thing is true with tech I believe.

  22. Brian Scriven
    June 15, 2012 at 10:33 pm

    This is all unchartered territory for me, however the insight provided by the five reasons to blog has me thinking on how I should best use blogging as a tool. I agree with the opportunity to work collaboratively with sharing thoughts and ideas and also how to model appropriate social interaction for our students. Thank you for sharing your 5 thoughts on blogging!

    • June 19, 2012 at 2:00 am

      Thank you Brian! When you start a blog, let me know. I think I’ll share some simply techniques on getting started with tools such as Evernote, Marsedit and WordPress.

  23. Fran Jackson
    June 17, 2012 at 11:22 am

    Reflection each day continues to be my greatest challenge although it is probably one of the most effective strategies for improving effectiveness in leadership. Think I’ll take up your challenge to blog twice a week. Will no doubt be beneficial for mental health also. Thanks for the challenge, Mark.

  24. June 18, 2012 at 3:36 pm

    Hey, educators have a great opportunity to collaborate, learn, and condense a great amount of knowledge and experience by logging. It’s a fantastic way to share ideas, news, analysis, and more. Check out our Early Learning Blog at http://http://blog.hatchearlychildhood.com/

  25. June 19, 2012 at 2:04 am

    Thanks Steve-URL got funky. Head to: http://blog.hatchearlychildhood.com/

  26. June 19, 2012 at 5:21 pm

    Hi Bill! I have resisted technology for as long as possible–but the reality is that this is the way business is done in the 21st century. I have just started blogging recently as a way to promote my book, share information, and also as a way to help parents and educators find me so they can help their struggling students become successful. For someone who has not used the social media, there is a steep learning curve here. I have committed to one blog a week, but my method of writing is to write everything for an entire month in one day. Then I just post and tweet and I am done in a few minutes. I have read other blogs via EdWeek online for years, but not commented, so that is another goal–to begin participating in the conversation.

  27. June 20, 2012 at 11:48 am

    Hi Kathy. Thanks so much for the helpful words! As someone who grew up with technology (http://billcarozza.com/2010/11/11/my-favorite-vet/) I fell into social media pretty quickly. It’s truly important to follow the same good teaching practice using scaffolding and truly meeting adults where they are with new technology. Everyone should check out Kathy’s blog at: http://www.soundbytesreading.com/

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