Sunday, June 12, 2011

10 tips for teachers starting a blog

Are you thinking of starting your own blog?
(You can read about why I think this is a good idea here.)

I've been blogging for about 18 months now so I'm obviously an expert.  Well, maybe not - but I have picked up a few things along the way.

1.  Talk to your school administration. 

I naively thought that because my blog was a personal space to share my experiences I wouldn't need to let anyone at school know about my nocturnal blogging pursuits.

Wrong.  The experiences I write about may be my own but they do take place in my work place - the two are linked no matter how much care I take to keep things anonymous.

Talk to your administration and let them know that you would like to start up a blog.  Let them know how you believe that this will make you a better teacher.  Work together to develop guidelines for your blog that everyone is comfortable with.

2.   Find a quality 'how to blog' site

I had no clue about how to start a blog, and I'm still stumbling along.  Find a couple of blogging resources that can answer your questions, offer tips, tutorials and information about everything from the technical to the creative. 

Here are a few goodies that I use:

The Blog Stylist
369 Blog Tips, Tools and Resources

3.  The first post is the hardest.

I felt a teensy bit silly when I sent my first post off into the great silence.  Would anyone read it?  Do I look like I don't know what I'm doing?  Who am I to blog about teaching?

Bloggers are a generous, forgiving bunch.  They will leave kind comments and won't blink an eye as you fiddle with your template for the 100th time.  Just do it.

4.  Find your own voice.

This is harder than it sounds.  What works for me is to write like we know each other - to write like I would talk to a friend or a colleague. 

If you are blogging to find your tribe, the best way to relate and engage with other people is to be yourself.

5.  Pictures, pictures, pictures.

As I scroll through the long list of blogs in my Google Reader I zoom right past the posts without  photographs. 

Like most people I am a visual learner - and a time poor one at that.  Long, wordy posts or dense paragraphs are too much like hard work. 

Use a photograph to show, rather than words to tell and I'm yours.  An example of this done well is the wonderful Irresistible Ideas for Play Based Learning.

6.  Comment on other blogs

Find other teacher / education / parenting blogs and comment on them.  If you don't speak up, people won't know you are there.

Make sure your comments contribute something to the conversation, and avoid the spammy "I like you blog, do you like mine" type of deal (not that I'd for one minute think that you would do this!).  Commenting can be a terrific way to build relationships - here are some people who tell you how:

Efficient Blog Commenting
Don't go it alone:  Relationship Building for Bloggers

7.  Tweeting and Facebooking

Social networking helps to connect you to other bloggers, share your blog posts and find inspiration.  I'm a die hard Facebook fan, but there is no denying the incredible reach of twitter.

In the past few months I have received tweets from 3 of my play gurus (Sir Ken Robinson, I'm still waiting to hear from you!) - twitter allows you to build connections with people all over the globe.

Here are some tips from folks in the know:

10 Twitter Tips for Teachers
Twitter 101 - A 7 Step Guide for Teachers
Make your Facebook Fan Page a Party
How to set up a Facebook Page

8.  Be Professional.

You are not as anonymous as you think you are. 

My rule of thumb is that if I wouldn't be comfortable saying it to a parent or colleague, then it isn't something that should be written about on my blog.

9.  Find Out Where all the Cool Kids are Hanging Out

The wonderful thing about blogging for teachers is that it allows you to develop your very own professional support group - a place to share ideas, tips, thoughts and experiences.

It helps of course if you know where all the other teachers are hanging out.  Here are a few places to get you started:

Blogs about play and teacher blogs
Play and teacher networks

10.  Be Generous and Share

There is room in the blogosphere for everyone - even in our teeny tiny little niche.  If it is your goal to develop community, then thinking about what you can do for other bloggers is a good way to start.

Liss from Frills in the Hills says it better than I can in her post on how to be a good blogging citizen:

Best Foot Forward for Bloggers

Over to you now my blogging friends?
What tips do you have for beginner bloggers?


  1. Thanks for the great advice. I like to be professional too. I have been writing blogs for a while as a way to keep my reflection and organise my readings. But pictures, more pictures...and presentation are definitely significant to appeal to/ reach out to more like- minded people, especially the visual learners.

  2. You are quite an inspiration! The road to my blog is under construction, thanks to you.

  3. We are a group of volunteers and opening a new scheme in our community. Your website offered us with valuable info to work on. You’ve done a formidable job and our entire community will be thankful to you.

    Ashley Jones

  4. One of the best tips given for teacher blogs. Will spread it to my fellow colleagues.