This week marked my blog’s first birthday! My first post was published on March 22nd 2016. One year, 59 posts, 70,000 views and 1,726 followers later, here I am still loving it and benefiting from it more than ever. Thank you to every reader who has supported it and encouraged me.
When I started, many people (including myself) questioned whether I would have time for it. Even now, the question of how I find time is frequently asked. It could be argued that I have time because my workload is nowhere near as heavy as it was in the notorious UK system. Furthermore, I don’t have children of my own to worry about. Though these things are obviously helpful, I follow many UK teacher bloggers who make it possible despite having children. If you want to blog, you can make it possible whatever your circumstances. In this post, I will outline the strategies that I use and my blogging routines. If any of you have considered blogging, I hope that this will assure you that it’s possible.
It’s my hobby
Despite being routinely part of my teaching practice, blogging is first and foremost my hobby. When I am asked how I find the time, I usually reply with, “How do you find time to go to the gym?” Or “How do you find time to watch movies?”. Despite our workload, much of which is dealt with in the evenings and on weekends, I don’t believe that any teacher works all day every day. They certainly shouldn’t! They would burn out. Everyone has time for whatever they prioritise. For me, that’s blogging. I find time because it’s what I choose to do in my downtime. I love my job and I love writing about it.
Some posts take a long time for me to research and write. These are generally the ones that I’m most proud of. However, I can’t keep this up consistently and I don’t feel the need to. Some posts are better than others, and that’s ok. I hope that readers still find value in them all (I certainly benefit from writing them all). If I insisted, or my readers insisted, on university-style essays every time, then blogging would fall flat for me. Some posts are shorter than others, too. Again, this is fine. I tend to just write whatever I want for however long I want to. I gave myself the aim of one post per week which is very achievable for me, but some weeks I put more time into it than others. If you start blogging, consider your own expectations and make them realistic and achievable.
Right now, I have 46 saved drafts on WordPress! They are at various stages of completion and some of them are even ready to publish. I haven’t published them yet because I’m not totally happy with them, but at busy times I can quickly make the tweaks and publish. By having drafts on the go, I can chip away at them at any convenient times rather than spend hours researching/writing at any one time. Sometimes I write them in one go, but most posts were written over the course of a few days, weeks or even months. Finding ten minutes here and there is a lot easier than finding an hour or two.
As well as the drafts, the research is also ongoing. I usually do it on my commute. I know which drafts I have and which post I want to publish next, so I use these times to prepare for upcoming posts. I don’t usually do all researching and writing in one day. I don’t think I could sit still for long enough! Of course, many of my posts don’t need any research. This one, for example, is just me stating some ideas and opinions.
Google Keep is fantastic for writing notes and lists (download the app and/or the Chrome extension). For blogging, I use it in two ways. When a blog post idea comes to me, I add it to my ‘blog post ideas’ list. This list is huge! I never run out of ideas because my list reminds me of things that I am interested in and things that I want to learn more about. I also use Google Keep to save quotes and images that will support my upcoming posts. This means that I don’t have to scramble around looking for them later.
One of the reasons that I always have things to share is that I am a lifelong learner. Teachers don’t need to blog, but all teachers, regardless of workload, should be learning. I am constantly getting new ideas from my PLN and reading new articles/research. Ideas are often translated into classroom practice and so I have new topics to write about. As many of you know already, I facilitate #pypbookstudy. I take notes from these books and our Twitter discussions. These are regularly the inspiration for my blog posts. If bloggers don’t make an active effort to learn, I guess they would run out of things to write about and, more importantly, their students would miss out on new, innovative ideas. My blog is simply the platform to share what I am learning about anyway.
“We’ve heard a lot of excuses as to why educators don’t continue learning. But we haven’t heard one yet which makes us say, ‘Yeah, you’re right. I guess ongoing education really isn’t important’.”
Adam Welcome and Todd Nesloney, Kids Deserve It!
Like I said, these routines are embedded into my daily practice now and I do not view them as additions to my workload. Blogging isn’t for everyone and it’s certainly not the only way to evidence your learning and growth. But if you are interested in giving it a go, I hope that my routines give you some ideas about how you could make it work for you. If you need any further advice, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment. Also, leave your blog address. I look forward to reading your work. To summarise, I find the time for two reasons: I love it and am becoming a better teacher because of it.