Every now and again I'm asked by a colleague ~why~ I blog.
The briefest of answers would be simply "to share." It's an obvious reason since my blog is public and open to comments, but when a more in depth response is expected, I either pause to choose my words carefully in an attempt to be concise or I enthusiastically ramble on and on, undoubtedly using a lot of hand gestures, smiling, and nodding as I speak.
For me, blogging is self reflection, and it's also yelling "hey, look at what I found!" It's a way to ask questions that someone else out there might also be pondering. My words or photographs could inspire a dialogue, or provide an answer or idea that helps me and the readers create something beneficial for our colleagues, students and their families. Occasionally I publish thoughts that other teachers wish they could sing from the rafters, their comments and emails agreeing in chorus with my rants. Perhaps new teachers can learn from my mistakes and avoid having to recreate the wheel as they navigate through the first few years of their profession. Sure, some of my thoughts are deep. Other content is shared simply because I think it's cute. A lot of what I publish gets sent out and is probably lost in the void, and I'm okay with that.
Now in my fifth year in this district, my seventh year in the state, and my seventeenth year as a kindergarten teacher, my teacher voice is well developed. I am a parent/teacher conference machine, I can collaborate with specialists, and I'm able to prevent a child from poking his or someone else's eye out with any selection of precise vocalizations. Were I more politically inclined, I'd probably be a great union representative. But I've also learned to be a better listener, and have come to appreciate the benefits of exercising discretion while on the clock. Many of my colleagues don't need or want to know every single opinion I have, leaving a lot for me to reflect upon that can become blog fodder.
Time in my classroom is precious. Every moment counts, whether it's spent introducing concepts, facilitating the learning process, listening to, playing with, or watching my Super Stars. As I communicate with families, colleagues and administrators, I'm bound by professional courtesy, my public oath, and my intention to provide what I feel is a quality education in a safe environment. But big surprise: my inner voice doesn't always match my professional vernacular. In almost two decades, I've witnessed the most embarrassing and hurtful scenes created by education professionals, administrators, parents and children, and I've also seen some of the most inspiring. I'm human, and opinionated. Reflecting in blog form works for me, where a fast and furious diary entry, or vent-session with a colleague or spouse might provide better catharsis for someone else. My friends are time zones away, or have very busy lives locally, and family obligations and evening or weekend plans offer respite from reliving every workplace problem. Blogging allows me to share with anyone who's interested in reading without my having to worry that I'm inflicting myself on others.
My blog has become my digital scrapbook. I link to others, tuck in some photos and slideshows, share my thoughts, ask some questions, and jot down ideas for later. I add some tunes to my life's soundtrack, and from time to time, I go way back to reread past thoughts to gauge how I'm feeling now. Enjoying the connections created by visitors who leave a comment, it's safe to say that if face-to-face collaboration provided me with all of the feedback, inspiration and collegiality I wanted or needed, it's likely I wouldn't blog as an educator.
Are you considering starting a professional or personal blog? It doesn't have to look like mine, and it certainly doesn't have to serve the same purpose. Perhaps you want to get the word out that you've created teacher materials that are for sale. Maybe you want an online platform for sharing pictures of your classroom with others. Are you wanting to improve your writing voice for national certification, professional development, or as a personal goal? Do you move often like I used to, and need an online presence for future possible employers to peruse as they determine if you're a good fit for their district? Maybe you'll choose to have your blog content unavailable to anyone other than subscribers, or maybe you'll write publicly with the hope that someone will comment and reassure you that you're not alone.
Why do I blog? For many, many reasons, but mostly because it's part of my teacher's voice.