ABCDelt

The ABC of ELT

6 tips for any new Teacher who wants to blog

As I had been a long time blogger and reflector ever since someone put me onto the idea during my brief stint as a youth worker, I started blogging about teaching straight away. I never thought about the reasons why a teacher should blog for professional development, I just did it.

However, overview time I changed my approach and took things more seriously and learnt. You could say (ironically) I reflected on what I was doing and changed in light of it.

I’d like to pass on some things I learnt from blogging as a new teacher so that you don’t have to make the same mistakes I did (though you may want to ignore my advice for other reasons). I thought I’d start with a brief history of me as a blogger but feel free to skip down to my tips bellow.

How I started blogging

I first started a blog when I was in my late teens just about any old random things along with the whole first wave of online diaries (Don’t even bother to search for them, I’ve deleted all the old ones). However, I quickly gave up when I had no comments! I randomly started blogs for the next 3 years without really sticking to it other than the occasional post but that all changed after I finished university.

I finished my politics degree and was advised that many of the potential career paths a politics graduate might follow would be enhanced by having a portfolio of work to show potential employers. As such, I started a blog about my campaigning for a local political party with comments on local party politics as well as my take on national news. It was actually quite successful at certain points and I even won a couple of monthly awards (nothing spectacular). But then my plans changed.

I had been looking at going into teaching and in particular Teaching English abroad and distance myself from politics more and more. Over time I found myself blogging more and more about the hodge-podge of interests that I had and less about politics. When I actually started teaching it was no surprise that I started to reflect and blog about it. I originally blogged this all on one blog but after a while realised that I’d rather send teachers to a blog that was only about teaching (as I didn’t really want them to see my old political rants or comments on New Malden’s latest scandal (like when I was accused of egging a political opponent! True story)

After a year and a bit of teaching I decided to set up this blog and start with what I learnt during my first year of teaching. I have been blogging ever since.

6 tips for teachers

1. Set up a teaching specific blog

Generally other teachers don’t want to read about what you ate on Tuesday, your thoughts on the political situation in the latest trouble area or what cat pictures you like…okay the last one may be an exception but it’s generally true. That’s not to say you should tell people about any of that, a teacher is a whole person and you shouldn’t deny it. But the more focused your blog is the more happy all your readers will be (and the less likely it is that someone will land on a post all about music.)

[having said all that if you link to other sites where you have this information most other teachers will really like it.]

2. Ask questions

As a new teacher there are lots of things you don’t know…and that’s okay! It’s amazing how many people out there just want to help and offer their experience and advice. It’s also a great way to get comments. If there is an obvious question that you just don’t know the answer to then ask people. Don’t be afraid to ask a question. If you do ask it then they are more likely to leave a comment and then you can benefit from their knowledge.

3. Admit when you get things wrong.

It’s okay to be wrong, you don’t have to be an expert. This was a mistake that I frequently made at the start. I tried to act very knowledgeable and guess what. People saw through it! If someone suggests something different then ask them more about it (see point 2) try to learn from it and then you can write about what you learnt from it.

Having said that you don’t need to put yourself down. You are a qualified teacher, you teach in a classroom and know your classroom. You don’t  have to go around the whole time with a “noob” tag on you (interesting note, this blog used to be called “a noobs guide to TEFL” but I changed the name for that reason)

4. Promote yourself

The best thing about blogging is sharing your experience/knowledge/etc and then having people share theirs back. (It’s true of more than just teaching as well) However, for this to happen you need to be either A) incredibly lucky B) promote yourself. Follow hashtags like #eltchat #elt #tefl #edtech etc on twitter and then tweet about your post. Find groups on other social media networks that are all about what you blog and tell people about your blog posts. If you are telling the right people then they’ll find it interesting.

5. Promote others more!

One of my personal pet hates is people who only promote themselves and to be honest, I am a bit guilty of this on Twitter (though I hope you’ll agree I do promote other people on my own blog as well). If you are only blogging or tweeting about yourself then why should anyone else blog or tweet about you?

It’s also very annoying when you see a stream of tweets online filling up a hashtag all about one persons blog. Just try to space out your tweets (and certainly promote others bloggers) and this problem no longer exists!

Oh and one final pet hate. People who use automatic tweeting services so THEY (not the author) post a tweet about a new post on someone’s blog first. What if it’s not as good as normal or about something that Shouldn’t be tweeted? To be honest it looks really shallow and fake to me but hey that’s just me. (few that’s my twitter pet hates out of the way)

Back to blogging, make sure you include links to other bloggers and good posts they’ve written (especially if they are relevant to the posts you have written.) the old saying that what goes around comes around so be generous!

6. Be a perpetual learner.

Perhaps the best advice of all, if you fail to get a single blog view but you are seeking to use your blog to learn, then it will be rewarding for you. I know I don’t have the best statistics for view that some other bloggers do but it’s okay. If no one comments on one of my blog posts then I know I have gained something from it. Of course, I really value the knowledge and comments of other bloggers and seek to increase that (hence my comments above) but ultimately I’m happy whatever.

Some new bloggers

To end I thought I’d post links to some new teachers who I’ve come across recently and think people might like to follow.

 

So what do you think of my tips? Have you got any advice for New teachers who blog?

P.S. I hope you’ll agree that these tips are useful for long term bloggers and teachers as well.

P.P.S. If you have blogged about how you started blogging why not add a link bellow. If not why not blog about it and link back to here.

Update: Here are some bonus tips that people have added to my list.

Tip 7 from Gemma Lunn (aka @GemL1)

Perhaps I should explain that I had some issues with the post when I first uploaded it and there was a 404 error (aka people couldn’t get to the page!)

Tip 8 from Phil Longwell (aka @Teacherphili)

Don’t post too often! It can be overwhelming for readers and people don’t have time to process the information. Phil also suggests that you comment somewhere else before posting again. I really like Phil’s advice and know that I can be guilt of this.

 

About Chris Wilson

I'm an English Language teacher based in Krakow, Poland. I enjoy writing, using technology and playing the Ukulele.

2 Replies

  1. some good advice. do you have any thoughts on reblogging? for me it seems kind of lazy and besides the point, at the very least you comment on why you like someone’s blog when you reblog? not quite a peeve more a niggle?
    by the way this video on using instagram applies to blogging as well i feel:
    http://youtu.be/GacoqdKjVyE
    ta
    mura

    1. Hum, I don’t know how I feel about reblogging because I’ve never done it really. I’ve put links up to other articles before and “Link blogging” (where people put the best posts for the last week/month etc) but I guess they are different then word for word reposting.
      I saw a repost on a WordPress site and it sent me to the other site. I don’t think that’s so bad but if you copy and pasted a post on to your own then it’s pretty awful, if someone keeps doing it to your blog it can lead to google blacklisting it (as they think your original work is the copy.) I’ve had a site do that to me actually (with some link at the end) and it was very annoying!

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