Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Blogging for Teachers: Why I Blog and Why You Should Too

I was inspired by Siobhan Curious' piece today to write this particular blog post. Siobhan has been a guest blogger over at Sarah Ebner's School Gate blog and finished the series today with a post about blogging and how it saved her teaching career. I'd like to further the discussion by showing how blogging has saved my recruitment career and my passion for helping teachers move to London.

As far as I know, I'm the only education recruitment consultant (for the UK anyway) who blogs.

I've actually been blogging since 2005, when my friend from teacher's college suggested that I start one to tell my friends and family back home about my experience teaching and living in London, England. In those days, I was really struggling with my teaching career and had just started working as a recruiter for the agency that brought me over (not Classroom). I was trying desperately to make changes to the company, to make it more supportive & successful and kept butting heads every move I made.

I wasn't a particularly positive person and was all 'round having a rough time of things in London, so blogging was my way of venting my frustrations and talking about my personal life. Needless to say, it wasn't a very good idea. I started various blogs anonymously. People I didn't want to read them eventually found them and figured out who I was and it made matters worse. I never wrote about the schools or students, so it mostly just affected my personal life, but it wasn't a whole lot of fun. It didn't help that my personal life was also a big ol' mess at the time.

Anyway, here I am today, writing a blog about teaching in London from a Canadian perspective and I have to say - I love it! I love that I don't have to hide who I am, and that you all actually read this thing! I love that teachers from coast to coast, and in areas that I don't even visit, manage to find this blog and end up eventually teaching with us in London. I love that our American neighbours to the south read it and that I can help them by simply writing. It's the easiest thing to do, and it makes a world of difference. I like to think so anyway!

Siobhan had this to say about blogging for teachers:
I’d recommend blogging to all teachers who want to make sense of their teaching experiences. A blog can be public or private. Even if you write only for yourself, or allow access only to close friends, it provides perspective, much like a diary does: writing about a problem makes it more manageable. If you make your blog public, it can also provide help: if you put some effort into reading others’ blogs and responding to their posts, they will do the same for you.
I couldn't agree more.

We have plenty of teachers who blog and plenty who just read the blogs and leave comments. I highly recommend that teachers blog but... be very careful about how you do it. Is it for therapy like my initial blogs? Or do you blog to help other teachers understand the process you go through? Who is your audience? Parents of your students? They will find your blog. So will your students.

Siobhan Curious uses a fake name, which makes a lot of sense if you want to blog about teaching. If you want to blog about traveling and being a foreign teacher in the UK like some of our teachers do, then you will probably keep your writing fairly safe and not rock too many boats.

I personally use my real name, and post in online forums as me. I know that people will see my name & Classroom Canada and know that I am clearly biased towards my little company. I'd rather that they make that assumption than use a fake name as other recruiters do, but I have been criticized for posting at all. Some people just hate teaching agencies and think we shouldn't post in teacher forums. I disagree, but I've worked for not-so-great agencies before so I get where they're coming from.

Here are some other teacher bloggers that I recommend you check out:

Classroom Canada Teachers Blog - This is a collective blog written by a handful of our teachers and teaching assistants.

Across the Pond - Jodi & Tyson are a teacher/teaching assistant team who just arrived in London last week and have been writing about their process from the beginning. They found my blog & apparently decided to go to London because of it. I love these guys!

Heather in the UK - Heather is one of our teachers in London, and her writing is beautiful. I wish I could write like her and I wish she posted more often, but she is a very busy Canadian teacher traveling all around Europe and teaching in London, so I am just happy she writes at all.

Bryn the Brit - Bryn is a teaching assistant and so much more. She teaches swing dancing and drama and writes about her adventures in this new blog. Please encourage her by leaving comments!

Just Take Me Where I've Never Been Before - Erika is in her second year of teaching in London and I'm so happy that she's finally started her own blog to tell her tales. She's a fabulous writer and has a very witty style. In her own words: "Everyone who reads this should know that I am in London for my second year of teaching and exploration. This will not be a documentation of my adjusting to life in the UK. I've done that already." I love this and really hope she doesn't mind me posting it here.

Get an Eyepatch Man - Amie and Morgan just arrived in London and love food more than anyone else I know. I love food, so I really love this blog. They seem to be writing mostly for family & friends, but since they haven't made it a closed audience, and I think they're brilliant, I am sharing it with you. Hope that's okay with them!

Where is Kirbie? Kirbie is a teacher from New Brunswick who will soon be moving to London. She writes about the whole process of moving to the UK and has a clear writing style that I really enjoy. I can't wait to read the posts she writes when she eventually gets to London!

There are a tonne of other blogs that I read, but this is a good list of Canadian teachers in London anyway. Please check them out, leave comments and encourage them along. If you'd like to start a blog yourself, check out "How to Write a Teacher Blog."

What do you think? Do you blog or just read blogs? Please share your thoughts below!

To become part of the Classroom Canada team, sign up for our newsletters & apply through our website.Be sure to read the Guide to Teaching in London: A Survival Guide for Canadians to help you understand everything you need to know about teaching in London.

8 comments:

  1. This is so nice Victoria, a great blog entry! Thanks again for recommending our blog and I am trying very hard to keep updating that one, as well as a more personal one for for friends and family. I love blogging mostly for the reason of helping other people and spreading information/resources. The more personal blog I have is more directed toward an audience that already knows me.

    I've also met great friends through blogging and it keeps me writing! It's great!

    And yes, we did decide to make the move based on the Classroom Canada blog and haven't looked back!

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  2. What I love about you guys is that when I write, I know you're reading it! Whether you're at the airport on your way to London, or actually in London, you manage to get online and keep in touch through blogging.

    I'm so happy for you over there and can't wait to read more about your adventures in teaching & traveling!

    Cheers
    Victoria

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  3. thanks Victoria! I looooove all these new Canadian teacher blogs, they're so fun to read! Morgan and I are still working on finding our blogging "voice" and figuring out our theme (although food seems to be a big one! hahaha). Once we start working we might start a different blog about the everyday teaching challenges and funny stories that come with it (no names or locations of course!).

    Morgan kept a journal during his last teaching practicum and found it to be very therapeutic to spend 10-15 minutes after school everyday to just vent his frustrations and write down his thoughts and any new ideas. It helped him gain perspective and I think it made him a better teacher by the end of the 4 months. He'll definitely continue a private journal when he starts here.

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  4. Thanks Amie! Morgan might like to start an anonymous blog where he can write a diary type blog about his experiences teaching. I'm sure loads of others would love to read it, and if he's careful about how he does it, then it can be very helpful, Like Siobhan Curious, or Miss Snuffy over at To Miss With Love. Only issue there is keeping it anonymous, not sharing details about the specific school(s) or students. That way, it's still his diary, but helps others understand the issues that a first-year London teacher faces. Just don't share his identity with anyone, as friends/family often write comments that are too revealing...that happened with many of my blogging friends.

    Anyway, your blog is great as it is! :-)

    Happy blogging (and eating!)
    Victoria

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  5. It is soooo wonderful to be able to know what the other blogs out there are...it is a glimpse into London teaching life.

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  6. Hi Anon,
    I couldn't agree more. I would have loved to read these blogs when I went to teach in London in 2004-2007.

    Honestly, I couldn't find anything like these blogs when I went, and all I wanted was honest, clear feedback & advice about what it's really like. These teachers & TA's are amazing and their stories are brilliant. Even just seeing the photos of a day in London helps those of us abroad who just want a glimpse into their lives there.

    It will be very interesting to see their stories as the teaching kicks in. There will be tough days no doubt, but hopefully blogging will help with reflection & perspective.

    Thanks for your thought!
    Victoria

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  7. Victoria:
    Thanks so much for linking up to me again!

    Yes, the writing anonymously thing is tricky, and I feel like I'm constantly walking a line that might get crossed, but it IS possible to keep a blog about teaching and respect others' privacy (at least so far; I always have a bit of anxiety about it.) As my blog gets more exposure, I find I have to be more and more discreet, but the payoff I get from writing about my experiences is worth it as long as no one else is compromised.

    Thanks for all your support, and for keeping such a great blog!

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  8. Hi Siobhan,
    I'm happy to link back to you! I love your writing and your blog!

    Have you heard about the police officer blogger in the UK who was exposed? Night something or other?

    I think the issue in the UK is that the media is really keen to expose popular anonymous bloggers, like the woman who wrote about her sex life and was in advertising I think?

    Anyway, your blog is safe! From what I've read, you don't compromise anyone else's identity. The police blogger wrote about specific cases which is how they figured out who he was. And the woman with the very active sex life wrote about the guys she was with and in a not-so-subtle way.

    In terms of teaching, Miss Snuffy writes stories about her students and gives them names like "Silly" which I enjoy, but I do have concerns that she may be found out as well. I think it's too risky to do that. She had a colleague a while back try to expose her to the Head Teacher of her school, but it all worked out in the end. She wrote about that as well. It's a fine line.

    Here in Canada, we don't have the tabloids who try to expose bloggers so much so that helps too. Montreal is a large enough city with enough Cegep's so I think you're safe as you are. Plus, your blog rocks!

    :-)
    Victoria

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Thanks for sharing your two pence!

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