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Why Should Educators Blog?

By Michelle Everson / November 2011

TYPE: OPINION, OPINION
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©2010 Michelle Everson

My husband, a blogger, has been encouraging me to dip my toes into the blogging world for years. I resisted for a long time, mostly because I worried that I wouldn't have anything interesting to say. I also worried about never having the time or the motivation to update a blog. Maintaining a blog would be just one more thing to do. Between Facebook and Twitter, I already had two perfect outlets for sharing and discussing interesting articles and activity ideas with my friends and colleagues in the education world. Why would I need a blog on top of that?

A blog would just be more "work"—that's all I could see.

I'm not sure exactly what changed my mind, but as I began a new semester of teaching and thought about different projects I was going to be involved in related to teaching, I realized it might be helpful to have a forum where I could ruminate on what I do in my classrooms and what I want to do in the future. I wanted to be more reflective, and I wanted a record of my thoughts and ideas that I could refer back to.

So often when I teach, I think about what goes well in the classroom and what doesn't. I question why I do certain things and how I might do them better. I brainstorm new things I want to try and revisions I want to make to existing activities and assignments. But I'm not always good about writing them down.

When it comes time to plan for a new semester, I don't always remember what worked and what didn't, what ideas I had, what revisions I wanted to implement, and too often, this leads to repeating the same mistakes over and over again. I don't want to be that kind of teacher anymore.

When I first started my blog, eversononline.com (powered by WordPress and connected to my Facebook and Twitter accounts via HootSuite) I thought I would mostly be sharing ideas I had about classroom activities, or that I would share news articles that relate to statistics (the topic I teach) that I thought might be good examples to share with students. I envisioned that the blog would also be a place for me to reflect on news stories that were of interest to me and that I was passionate about, stories related to distance education or the use of technology in the classroom.

Soon, however, my blog became like an online journal. I use it now to reflect on my classes and record what I do in each class and what I think works well and what doesn't. I write about assignments I am experimenting with and tools I am using in my courses or that I would like to use in my courses. I write about concerns I have about certain issues and challenges I face in teaching my courses. As an example, I've been experimenting with online office hours this semester using the chat room feature on my course website, and I've found that using the chat room for office hours hasn't paid off in the ways I initially thought it would. I brainstorm new ideas and "think out loud" about what I do and why I do it and how I might do it better. Blogging has allowed me to think more deeply about what I do and to be a more reflective practitioner. I even find myself looking forward to writing the next post. Whereas I thought blogging would just be more "work" for me, it's actually become a pleasant distraction from my other work. Sometimes it's even a therapeutic outlet.

What I didn't quite envision when I first started blogging is how it would connect me to other people who share some of the same experiences and concerns that I have—or who have different experiences and perspectives to share.

As more people learned about my blog, I began to receive comments—either on my blog or through Facebook and Twitter—to different things I was posting, and I would also sometimes receive email from friends and colleagues about thoughts I had shared on my blog. This has led to many great conversations with other educators about teaching issues. I'm not as alone as I once thought I was in some of my struggles with teaching. I've even forged new relationships with other educators. In face-to-face settings, I tend to be quiet and introspective, but blogging has given me a new voice and has provided a means to get out some of the thoughts and feelings that I don't always know how to verbalize on the spot.

Making connections with other educators and forming new relationships with fellow teachers was a wonderfully unexpected consequence of blogging, and it's something I treasure now. Not only do I now have a way of writing about what is so very important to me and that will hopefully allow me to grow as an educator, but I have found new ways to connect with others who share my interests and my passion for teaching. Personally, I don't know that you can ever have enough of these kinds of connections.

About the Author

Dr. Michelle Everson is a lecturer in the Quantitative Methods of Education track within the Department of Educational Psychology at the University of Minnesota. She has been teaching online for six years and teaches introductory and intermediate statistics courses, in addition to a course called "Becoming a Teacher of Statistics." In 2009, she received a Distinguished Teaching award from the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Minnesota. She is the editor of resources for the Consortium for the Advancement of Undergraduate Statistics Education, and the statistics editor for MERLOT.

Article ©2010 Michelle Everson



Comments

  • Wed, 07 Aug 2013
    Post by khalid nafil

    Hi, the first attempt is always difficult to realize. Many time, i told my students to create and manage their blog, but i never start my own blog. Thank you.