Wednesday, January 21, 2009
How to Write a Teacher Blog
As a teacher, recruiter and writer I am often asked for advice about starting a teacher blog. So here are my two cents for you, dear readers.
When starting a teacher blog you have to ask yourself why you want to write a blog in the first place. Are you teaching in a different city or country like the Classroom Canada teachers? Do you want to share your insights into the profession or do you simply want an easy way to tell your stories to your friends & family back home? Facebook helps us keep in touch much better than a blog so if you're only writing to tell your stories to your family & friends, then perhaps you should use Facebook instead.
The best blogs are written by people who know why they're writing & stick to it. Writing can be therapeutic and when you're teaching you need this time to stop & reflect. Story telling is an amazing way to share your insights into teaching. You don't have to be the world's greatest writer, but you do have to know how to tell a good story.
One of the first issues that blogging teachers have is whether to remain anonymous or not. You'll notice that I'm not anonymous on this blog and it's for the simple reason that I'm not actually teaching in a school now. I recruit teachers to work in London, England for Classroom Canada so my teachers need to know me as a person just as much as I need to know them. I posted my photo to help readers feel a bit more connected to me as a blogger. Most professional bloggers will tell you to do this. Sarah Ebner has her photo up on School Gate blog as well.
Miss Snuffy is anonymous. She's made a very conscious decision to share her thoughts & insights into teaching and has to protect herself as a teacher first and foremost. When working in a school, you absolutely have to protect yourself. If you plan to tell stories about your students and your school, you have to protect them as well. Students and parents will google you, and you'll be surprised to find how easy it is to stumble across a blog written by someone who thought they'd never be read by the very people they shouldn't be advertising to.
Urban School Teacher is also anonymous and for the same reasons. He shares his views on teaching in London schools & doesn't hold back. But Teach N' Traveller writer Alysha isn't anonymous. She teaches in Melbourne, Australia and helps other Canadians make the move there. Her life is quite similar to mine in that she recruits teachers and is a teacher herself. She doesn't share stories about her school and her students, but instead offers advice for teachers from abroad considering the move to Australia. You won't find her swearing and you certainly won't find her saying anything that would cause concern for her school.
So, first decide why you want to write a blog, whether you will be anonymous or not & then decide how often you will post. This is crucial.
I post every day, Monday - Friday, except when I am at universities doing job fairs or presentations, or during my holidays. I treat blogging as a part of my job so I stick to it. I have regular readers that I know about from using Stat Counter. This tool shows me how many pages my readers view, how often they visit & how long they stay on the blog. Without this tool, I probably would have quit by now since most readers don't leave comments. I have some readers that have visited the blog more than 100 times and since I've only posted 115 times I know these are people that are dedicated to reading my blog. They might be other recruiters keeping an eye on the "competition" (which we all do by the way - I know exactly what other teacher recruitment agencies offer so I can always stay one step ahead).
I like to think that my readers are other teachers doing research into teaching in London, England. That's the purpose of this blog after all. The point is - if you know why you're writing & you're passionate about your subject, you'll stick to your blog. You don't have to post every day like I do. But you do need to post on a regular basis even if it's just once a week. You should post on the same day so your readers know when to check in on your blog. Respect your reader's time! They check in and when there's nothing there they get bored & move on.
Don't write the "I'm sorry I haven't posted in so long" apology. Regular blog readers read this all the time. Don't apologize, just write. It's your blog after all.
Discuss issues that you would want to read about. Share stories that you wished you had read before going into teaching in the first place. That's what your readers are looking for. They want your story, the brutal and the beautiful. Post pictures & videos and link back to other teacher blogs. Share the love! Blogging is about being part of a blogging community so check in on other blogs & tell your readers what you read. Post comments & participate in discussions on other blogs.
When I check out how people are finding my blog there are a few common keyword searches. "Teacher blog London", "Canadian teacher blog", "Canadian teachers in London", "Teacher stories London", "American teachers in England" -- those are by far the most common keyword searches that I get. So my readers are people looking for the real story written by teachers about what it's like to teach in London, England. I try to deliver.
What do you think people will type into google to find your blog? Keep those words in mind in every post & use them often, but don't be boring! Don't just use keywords so google will find you. They aren't stupid & neither are your readers.
Any other advice you'd like to hear or share? Please leave your comments below. Do you have a teacher blog that you think my readers will like? Share it in the comments section as well.
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