In February of 2014, I made a decision.
I started a blog.
A little over three years later, I have to admit that part of the reason I did it was because it seemed like all the cool kids were doing it. I didn’t really think I had enough to say to make a blog worthwhile. Anything I could say was already being said by other people who already have established blogs with large numbers of followers. I had lots of reasons why starting a blog wasn’t a practical thing to do.
But, I did have some good reasons to try it. I told myself it wasn’t a lifetime choice, I could easily stop doing it at any time (but isn’t that what smokers say?). I knew I wanted to become a better writer, and one of the best things a person can do to become a better writer is to, well, actually start writing.
There have been some additional benefits that I was not expecting. First, I found that my own blog was a great place to organize and archive things that I wanted to go back and access later. Resources such as links to my previous presentations and snippets about news stories or other online materials go in posts or pages that get categories and tags. Spending a few extra seconds setting categories and tags for my posts makes it much easier for me to go back and find things later when something reminds me of a useful resource. And, I don’t have to try to remember if I saw that resource on Twitter, or Facebook, or in an e-mail, or….
Second, I have been able to incorporate the practice of reflective writing via blogs with my college students. Reflective writing assignments in the form of neatly typed paragraphs or pages are a staple of many education courses, but I wanted to take it a step further with my students. My class (Communication Tools and Strategies for Students with Moderate to Intensive Special Needs) was reading Ellen Notbohm’s excellent book “Ten Things Every Child With Autism Wishes You Knew”. Rather than having the students write reflections on the chapters that would only be seen be me, I asked them to publish their reflections on a publicly available class blog. Years ago, I heard Rushton Hurley tell a room of educators, “If students are sharing their work with the world, they want it to be good. If they are sharing it with the teacher, they want it to be good enough.” There is a big difference between good and good enough. An authentic, global audience can be the key to making that leap.
Third, when I go back and read some of my old posts, I am noticing changes to my writing style and the language that I use. I hope I am also becoming better at getting my ideas across.
ISTE’s Ed Tech Coaches’ Network is starting a new program called “Blogging Buddies”. The idea is based on Jennifer Hogan’s “Compelled Blogger Tribe” idea from her blog. I am committing to producing at least one new blog post each month. I am also committing to visit the blogs of four specific individuals and leave comments on their posts once a month as well. The second part is the “new adventure” for me. There are a couple of blogs I peruse regularly, but most of my blog-watching comes from links I happen across via Twitter.
I look forward to getting familiar with not just the ideas that my “randomly selected” blogging buddies will produce, but getting to know something about them as people as well. I don’t just want to know what they know about what works in educational technology, I want to know why they do what they do.
More to come….