Educator Voices Must Be Heard, That's Why We Blog
The bell rings, and the door shuts. This is when the magic happens. It doesn't matter what is happening outside or anywhere else, the only thing that I want to wrap my brain around is the learning that is shared during that period or during the conversation I'm sharing with a colleague.
These moments of positive educational progress are the ones that people who are both in and out of education need to know about.
Too often, we spend time focusing on what isn't happening or what is wrong that we lose sight of all the amazing learning that actually is going on.
As ambassadors of education, each one of us has an opportunity to put a positive spin on what the world sees, especially those in the communities we serve; they have a right to know about it.
So how can educators share their voices?
Here are some simple tips for starting a blog and sharing your voice:
- Choose a free platform to start like Blogger or Weebly and create your blog. The steps are easy to follow and will walk you through selecting a theme (the layout and color scheme) for your blog. The hardest part will likely be what you decide to make the name of your blog as that will be the beginning of your personal branding.
- Decide what your niche is. If you want to do all things education, make sure you spend time filling out the "about me" section in a way that will help readers know what to expect when reading your blog. You want to be a credible voice, so share what makes you the person to listen to on whatever your topic is. For example, when I started blogging, although I was a high school English and journalism teacher, I didn't just speak about what was going on in my content. I wrote about pedagogical choices, the ones that worked and the ones that didn't. Transparency became a hallmark of what made my readers come back to my site (so I've been told). Figure out what you want to say and focus there first.
- Don't be afraid to stretch. Even though you found a niche doesn't mean you can't go off subject. Education is a wide field, and you are likely more than just an educator. Those things seep into our jobs and therefore are fair game depending on how much you want to share with your audience.
- Know your audience. Even though you know your niche, know who you're writing for. If you're writing the blog as a means for reflection, it can be for you, but also for your peers, so make sure your tone and voice suit the audience you've selected.
- Share what is relevant. When I started blogging, I did it on my first free period of the day. It usually had something to do with one of my classes directly. It was a way for me to share challenges and successes, get other people to weigh in and to keep myself honest. When I ran out of things to write from my classroom or felt it was getting stale, I would think about the questions I had in education and would poll my professional learning network on Twitter. These online conversations often fueled future posts.
- Don't worry about the analytics. In the beginning, I was obsessed. Each day I would check my Google Analytics to see which posts were being read and how many clicks I had on my site. Many of them were me visiting to see if I had comments. Readers will come once you put yourself out there. It takes time, so be patient.
- Start dialogues. Ending posts with provocative questions that get readers thinking about how they feel or their own experiences and inviting them to share those ideas will help develop conversations around larger educational issues. This is how you build readership and your personal brand. If readers comment on your blog, always acknowledge them. Set up a notification if you need to when new comments post so that no one ever goes unanswered or acknowledged.
- Make sure to have a visual. This comes from my journalism background as well as a knowledge of SEO for page ranking. We want readers to have multiple points of entry and an image or video will help bring them in. This, coupled with a clear headline, will also be an entry point when they read it in a social media feed.
- Make your headline catchy but to the point. Think about your headline like the central idea of why you wrote the post and what people are going to read.
- Remember to stay readable. This means keep your paragraphs short and engaging. Avoid redundancy and vary your sentence structure. This isn't a print-reading experience necessarily, so what it looks like on the computer or phone is different from how it would look in a hard copy.
Each of us has a responsibility to share our stories the way we want to share them. If we choose not to be the owner of our personal brand, then other people will tell our stories for us and then we lose control over the reality of our spaces.
What do you do to get yours and your students' voices heard? Please share