Last night my blog hit a milestone for which I have been waiting over the last few weeks – it has been a long time coming and certainly has not been a driving force behind my posts, but it has been a fascination.
1 million views.
How did this happen? I’ve really no idea, other than that it did.
Obviously people are visiting, using and returning because they find something to their liking. I blog as a teacher for students and teachers and hope to post resources in a number of forms to help students to improve and to save my teacher colleagues from the chore of wheel-reinvention. I do not make any claims for perfection or for guaranteed high grades if people use my blog, but I offer my material to be used or abused as the finders see fit.
Many education bloggers have found their material cannibalized on other sites, often offered for sale with their creation ignored by the new vendors. I do not know if mine has suffered this fate – I do not look. It is in the public domain on here and I am not sure I own the intellectual rights to any of my ideas – I abhor the practice of these plagiaristic fortune-hunters on other sites but acknowledge my powerlessness to do anything about it.
I hope they correct my typos.
So, in answer to the many teachers I read on Twitter wondering if they should begin to blog, I offer these thoughts:
- Do it. Nothing can be a better preparation for teaching than sorting out your thought processes in written form. It is such a good forum for reflection and helps to establish self-confidence in your material.
- Pick your area. I blog English teaching resources and try not to get too immersed in Edu-politics or in Edu-research. I leave that to those with time and passion to really engage with these areas. You will find my thoughts on issues like the post-Gove GCSE shake-up here and many reflections of days spent at conferences such as ResearchEd or the late TLAB. But I began to blog solely for my Year 11 students in what was then Slough Grammar School and have continued to work with this in mind: My focus is actual support for actual students. The boys I teach now at The John Lyon School have shaped the current material, but the idea remains the same. I post in the hope that it is useful. It seems to be – if only 10% of my views have been helpful, that’s still 100,000 satisfied customers.
- Don’t be discouraged. We do not do this to gather hits or to raise money. I share posts on Twitter as a useful way of showing my work – some posts get very few hits and others become suddenly highly successful – who knows why. Hopefully if I really foul up, someone will tell me that I have done so.
- Use the blog to expand your repertoire. When I started there was little sharing in the profession. There was TES resources (before the days of pay to use material…) but little else which students could access for help when not in school. I shifted from posting classroom resources as a sole resource to what i called stimulus essays in which I took a position and wrote articles to challenge students to critique and respond. From this I began to use sound recordings of students presenting their ideas and their work in conversation and in formal presentation. As the podcast became common currency, this seemed to make sense. I have found the quality of written expression among my U6th students improved dramatically when there was a serious chance that they might end up ‘broadcasting to the nation’.
- Embrace sharing. Today there are so many forums dedicated to sharing ideas and supporting colleagues. From the conferences that have emerged via @team_english1 and the amazing @litdrive work, my subject area is supported so well in the UK and, via Twitter, across the globe. We are so lucky. This global sharing is extraordinary: according to WordPress there are only 11 countries in the world in which no one has visited my blog – this is amazing. It raises questions – not just ‘who is the single person in Vanuatu and did they find what they were searching for?’ but also ‘how can we help those in far less privileged positions than we who teach in the UK to develop their students or to gain the exam outcomes required to drive the development of their countries?’ It is a cliche to talk about a connected world today, but it is a truth. A glance at my twitter feed shows posts from all over the world and discussion about education which smashes all national boundaries and all forms of organised examination. We are better when we share and any colleague who engages in sharing ideas, resources or support should be welcomed with open arms.
- Be honest and open and people will respect you for it – it will also help to root you in what matters at school: education. I have blogged through some tough times in my career – times when I have wondered why I bothered: being beset by what I saw as petty bureaucracy and treatment which, on reflection, I realise was little other than bullying, and writing articles and resources for new texts has kept me focused on my job and its importance: I am a teacher, not a slavish follower of dogma and I found the support of friends, colleagues and students through my writing to be utterly humbling and supportive. This matters so much more than the latest exploration of VAK or thirty-seven different activities required to rate a lesson as ‘outstanding’. Thank goodness we seem to be moving away from this crushing and soul-sapping over-inspection of the minutiae of our classroom practice towards a system which acknowledges the futility of many of these micro-inspections, towards a system which represents our mental health issues, towards a system which has ceased to grade a teacher on the subjective ‘evidence’ of an observer based on a single lesson observed.
- Do it: it’s fun!
Most viewed post: Veronica: a post for IGCSE students about a text no longer on the syllabus! 24,807 visits.
Busiest month: May 2018: 32,816 visits
Top 5 countries:
Sri Lanka: 29,543
Hong Kong: 25,470
I hope my self-indulgence doesn’t offend! If it does: blog about it!