Blogging can be a tricky minefield for teachers to navigate.

However, it’s also an outlet for teachers to build awareness about issues, share information and best practices with one another and bring about systemic change in education, panelists said during a session at the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards Conference.

“It’s for us to have that information and to be bolstered and to push back,” said teacher David B. Cohen of InterACT.

The panelists, all bloggers, recognized that teachers walk a delicate line: How do you blog about your classroom, school or district without repercussion?

Daniela Robles, a teacher who blogs at Stories From School, suggested that teacher bloggers walk that line by sharing the story of someone who lives in another district or state but whose story highlights an issue or a viewpoint that the blogger wants to share.

Renee Moore, who blogs at TeachMoore and attended the session, emphasized that practicing teachers do need to be careful about what they say.

“It’s a real issue,” she said. “You can put yourself out on a serious limb by blogging.”

However, Moore said, not blogging marginalizes teachers.

“Many of the education expert voices are not teachers,” she said. “We need teachers’ voices to be in the conversation.”

Make sure your boss is aware of your blogging, said Anthony Cody, who blogs at Living in Dialogue.

“Your direct supervisor is the most important person to worry about,” he said. “You have to be sensitive that you don’t go out of your way to embarrass the people you work for.”

He also suggested that bloggers, particularly those who have gained a following, understand their level of strength when it comes to dealing with administrators who might not like what a teacher blogger has to say.

“They’re not going to mess with you if they know you have an audience,” Cody said.

To begin blogging, panelists recommended reading other blogs and start commenting regularly. They also suggested participating in a group blog, with multiple contributors, if you don’t have time to dedicate to a blog, which requires continuous updating to build an audience.

Blogger Nancy Flanagan of Teacher in a Strange Land recommended that teachers approach blogging as if it were a sermon: Focus on one point, and keep it short. Her other suggestions: Vary topics to increase your audience base, pay attention to what people like and write well.

Cody said he has used his blog as entry into policy debates. However, blogging is not the end point.

“Blogs are not vehicles for social change … Ultimately we need to act, he said.”

Image credit: shippee, via iStockphoto

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11 Responses to “How and why teachers should start blogging”

  1. bretsimmons says:

    Blogging has been one of the best career decisions I've ever made. It has forced me to be more clear than ever about what I believe and teach. It has also forced me to stay at the cutting edge of the topics I teach so that I can continually add new value via my blog. When I learn something new, I archive that learning on my blog for my students and a wider audience to access. Blogging keeps me relevant in the classroom, and my students really appreciate that

  2. Michael Sean says:

    Another reason teachers should be blogging (should they desire) is that it will allow them to teach their students to communicate online by example. One of the most effective ways to learn in my opinion.

  3. We at Lightspeed Systems are big advocates of teacher and student blogging. Though teachers can't expect their students to blog if they don't blog as well. So I hope many teachers find this post and are encouraged to get started, if they haven't already. As for students, there are several reasons why they should be blogging. I wrote about this a few weeks ago – http://blog.lightspeedsystems.com/joel/2011/06/01

  4. I guess every profession needs to blog or at least share their expertise online. For one, blogs can help build their credibility, in the process allowing them to market themselves more easily. But then again, Renee Moore got it right. It pays to be cautious on what you say online. Once it's there, it can never be removed. Second, as teachers, they should be upholders of factual information, relevancy, diplomacy, and honesty.
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  5. Alan King says:

    This information is invaluable. As a teaching artist, I can get away with what traditional teachers might not. I've profiled high school students in our after school workshop (of course, with permission from both my boss and students). Oh yeah, my boss knows I blog, too.

    One thing I took away from this post is definitely not to embarrass the people you work for and the students you serve.

    I'm glad you're getting the word out there about teachers controlling the discussion on education.

    Thanks for this post!

  6. SPatras says:

    I have just begun blogging. I very much believe in the value. I am hoping it serves as a means for professional learning, conversation and reflection. Please check out my first blog titled "Why Would I Blog?" You can access it through my twitter account @shayepatras.

  7. Malhar Barai says:

    Great Post!! Blogging & the use of Social Media channels should be encouraged amongst teachers. There is a fair bit of learning for teachers & are amazing tools to share your thoughts. I have share thoughts in couple of posts in my blog earlier
    My recent post Content Strategy for Social Media

  8. a bunch of my students are blogging now. It is working out okay.

  9. smkelly8 says:

    I've gotten such useful information via other teachers blogs and try to share helpful information, reflections and suggestions to encourage and connect with colleagues. Yes, blogging is wonderful.

    I must add a caution. I used to use Google's Blogger (blogspot). They suddenly cut off my blog and accounts without any warning or explanation despite my many requests for such. I suggest WordPress as a better forum and back up your blog. Each platform has instructions on doing so buried in its depths. ;-)

    One good method for students is to group them and have them make thematic small group blogs. Thus they need to hold story meetings and plan in ways that can develop higher level thinking skills. Students also enjoy checking out their site stats to discover who's seen the blog and what countries they're from and what brought them to the blog. Blogs can be used in history, social studies, science — not just English or a foreign language.

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  10. [...] that seemed great, however over the past few days I came across one a Blog called How and why teachers should start blogging and after reading it I started to wonder if it was time to get this process started. After two [...]

  11. [...] that seemed great, however over the past few days I came across one a Blog called How and why teachers should start blogging and after reading it I started to wonder if it was time to get this process started. After two [...]