Blogging is one of those things that most authors, coaches and speakers know we “should” be doing. It helps us test our ideas. It allows us to gauge audience interest. It provides an opportunity to reflect on our experiences and explore new concepts. And it’s a practice that I have yet to master. That’s why I love to hear from people who are doing it well. Aaron Hogan included some great insights on the why and how of blogging in his new book, Shattering the Perfect Teacher Myth, and he graciously offered to share some of his thoughts on blogging here. He speaks from an educator’s viewpoint, but I believe his message is applicable to any field. If you’ve been thinking about blogging or about blogging more consistently, Aaron’s advice will help you find your voice, figure out what to write about, and fit it into your busy schedule.
Finding Your Blogging Voice
Everyone has experiences that are worth sharing. That includes you. (Yes, even with the excuses that just ran through your head.)
But it’s not enough to simply have some experiences that are worth sharing. Thomas Paine said, “I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection.” Make no mistake–blogging, or any other form of sharing your learning, is an act of bravery. I love that Paine isn’t saying that it’s brave because there’s a big audience waiting or because of what others might think. I think his claim recognizes how hard it is to thoughtfully reflect on our own experiences. What he’s talking about is disruptive.Make no mistake--blogging, or any other form of sharing your learning, is an act of bravery. ~ @Aaron_Hogan Click To Tweet
It’s courageous. It’s risky, yet rewarding. Yet it’s surprisingly simple for you to pull off as a blogger.
I’m not joking.
The process can be as simple as this:
- Reflect on your experience
- Write about what you learned
- Revise and edit for clarity
- Publish your thoughts on one of the many blogging platforms (WordPress, Blogger, Weebly, Wix, etc.)
- Share the post where you are connected to educators online
Most educators I talk to are willing to take on the challenge of blogging to reflect on their own learning. The why isn’t the stumbling block. Nearly every blogger I talk to struggles with the answers to these two questions: What should I share, and when will I find time to share it?
What should I share?
I have found that the best topics to blog about are those topics that get you fired up. The ideas that excite you, scare you, annoy you, and drive you to do your best. When we delve into what we’re passionate about, that passion attracts others, and it can inspire them to tackle their own challenges along the way.
Sometimes it helps to write about whatever comes to you. The next time you are casting about for topics, let your mind wander freely in regard to your profession. I have found it helpful to ask these questions, and I’m sure you can think of others:
- What’s something new I’ve learned in the past month?
- What’s something I am currently trying to master?
- What was my best day in the past few weeks, and why was it so encouraging?
- What was my worst day and what went wrong? What did I learn from it?
- What two things would I change in my classroom? Or on my campus?
- What’s something real and honest, whether it reflects failure or success, that I could share with other educators?
More than anything, write. You’ll get better as you go, and the topics will continue to flow in your direction.
The Obstacle of Time
Educators who are doing their jobs know the reality of time constraints. Our days are filled with deadlines, and all sorts of things that seem out of our control appear to eat up our time. I get that nobody has extra time. At the time of this writing, I’m a husband, a dad to a five-year-old, three-year-old, and one-year-old, a member of a church, and an assistant principal to just over 1,000 fifth and sixth graders. I’m an avid buyer of books, and sometimes I even find time to read them. The reality is that I’m nowhere near as busy as some of you are. I still fail in this area all the time, and I’ll never go so far as to say I understand your schedule, the demands on your time, or all the details of your life. I don’t. What I can say is these three practices have helped me radically improve my ability to carve out time to blog.
1) Keep a working list of ideas.
Keep a notebook of ideas so that you have plenty to choose from when it’s time to sit down and write. Nobody has time to waste, so you’ll want to be able to maximize your efforts.
2) Don’t get bogged down in editing.
Hitting the “publish” button is still an adrenaline rush for me. It’s exciting to put ideas out there, but it’s not something that happens without a little bit of fear creeping in, too. My advice? Don’t spend too much time editing. Edit for clarity and typos, but once you’ve said what you have to say, get it out there. I’m a write-it-skim-it-share-it kind of guy.
3) Schedule time to blog.
We’d all like to have endless pockets of free time pop up on our schedules. That’s not reality. You’re a busy educator doing everything you can to serve others. You’re going to have to put it on your calendar. Literally. Write it down on a specific day and treat it as seriously as a parent conference. You wouldn’t skip that, would you? If blogging is reflection, and reflection is how we learn, you owe it to yourself to set and maintain this meeting with yourself.
Simple Doesn’t Mean Easy
The risk of sharing a few ideas to get you blogging or saying things like “here are three easy ways to save time to blog” is that I might oversimplify what is most assuredly a complex process. The complexity isn’t rooted in the what and when of blogging, but in the vulnerable act of self-reflection and the publication of that process.
It’s scary, but it’s worth it.
The alternative is to see your hard work go by without understanding the growth that took place within you. That seems like a waste. So find the time, and share your story. It need not be perfect. It just needs to be honest. If you’re the only one who reads it, your time spent reflecting on your experience and your journey is always well spent.
What have you learned lately that you need to reflect on, write about, and share?