As a teacher, you probably rush to school in the morning, spend a great deal of energy maintaining order in your classroom, teach lesson after lesson, hurriedly eat some lunch, grade student work, and then realize that the day is over. It can be hard to find time to reflect. But reflection is a key part of any career, especially one where children and their potential is involved.
For this reason, more teachers should consider blogging about their day, lesson plans, struggles, and triumphs, says Dave Dodgson, an educator who works with young learners in Ankara, Turkey. In a post on the BBC’s Teaching English site, Dodgson says he has been blogging since 2010, when he was working on his master’s degree. For his thesis, he even conducted a survey of 50 active teacher bloggers. He believes, in sum, that blogging can be a form of professional development that help teachers become better at what they do.
Keeping a blog, Dodgson says, can help teachers reflect, discuss methods that work best and ones that need improvement, and vent their stress and anxiety. Often, blogs garner engagement from other teachers, readers, and people who share their own experiences.
In this regard, blogs can help teachers form personal-learning networks, according to Dodgson, where educators share experiences and ideas from all over the world. Blogging encourages dialogue more than other forms of social media, like Twitter or Facebook, he says.
My research showed that, despite the assumption that teachers may shy away from sharing classroom successes and failures openly, most language teachers highly valued this opportunity to interact. After all, teaching can be a lonely job. We are alone in the classroom most of the time but blogging offers a way to invite teachers into our lessons (virtually rather than literally of course!) ... Sometimes, simply receiving supportive comments or praise is enough to encourage teacher-bloggers to return to the class with renewed motivation.
If you decide to take Dodgson’s words to heart, there are countless free, simple, and easily customizable blogging platforms available. Most offer phone or tablet apps which allow you to post from anywhere. Here are a few notable ones:
- WordPress: If you want a full blogging experience, WordPress has the most features. There is a free version as well as a premium version where you can buy a domain name and hosting. Many news sites and brands use WordPress, like the New York Times blogs, eBay, and People Magazine.
- Tumblr: Extremely easy to use, Tumblr has become very popular recently, but isn’t a traditional blogging program—it is a micro-blogging platform that allows you to create media-rich posts. You can easily create community blogs and link your social media accounts with Tumblr.
- Blogger: Google’s Blogger is another feature-rich option. There is a template designer that allows you to change your blog’s appearance, and custom domain names are free with Blogger.
- Edublogs: This platform is dedicated to teachers and educators. You can use Edublogs to facilitate discussions, post e-newsletters, or create a student blog. Edublogs’ website offers helpful user guides and support.
- TypePad Micro: This platform offers a free version (Micro) and several cheap paid versions. But the free version offers limited themes and features. TypePad’s emphasis is a new form of blogging, inbetween status updates on social media and long-form blogging.
- Weebly: Weebly allows you to build a website—and a blog. It has a drag-and-drop interface that lets you easily add audio, photos, slideshows, and more.
- Blog.com: Also powered through WordPress, this platform offers a free version, which displays ads. To eliminate ads you have to pay for an upgrade.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Teaching Now blog.