One of my personal struggles of keeping a blog has always been how frequently I should blog and what to blog about. And when that issue of frequency comes up the inevitable question follows “Why haven’t you blogged for a while now?” and this normally leads a blogger/teacher/trainer/artist etc. to some self-guilt and an attempt to squeeze blogging into what already is a hectic schedule.
When I started this blog 8 years ago I made it very clear to my typical perfectionist self that this would be my personal space of sharing, connecting and growing as a teacher and writer. That however did not stop these occasional moments of pressure to creep in and make me question whether I should be writing more often and what I should be writing about.
Through the years I’ve come to realize that I blog more or less in the same way I teach and that these two practices of my life (blogging and teaching) are related in more ways that I/we normally see.
Although these similarities are not always easy to pinpoint, here’s what I feel blogging and teaching share in common:
- Blogging should be relevant. We don’t usually teach the way we taught last year and most of us don’t keep using the same materials just because they were created at some point and shouldn’t be thrown away. Just like our lessons, our posts should be a reflection of our own interests, thoughts or concerns and represent what we genuinely want to find more about. For me, blogging /teaching should be relevant to my interests, my fellow teachers’ life and reflect or address issues that relate to students’ reality.
- Blogging shouldn’t make us feel complacent. I’ve been teaching for the past 15 years students of all ages and levels and could have filled this blog with posts on every activity I used in class no matter how big or small the impact of these tasks has been on my students. Although this could have been practical for both myself and other teachers, I deliberately chose not to do so because I’d like blogging to represent a challenge for self-growth and push me into reevaluating the purpose of the activities I’ve worked on in class. I think that this mostly relates to the fact that I feel I’m learning with and through my students. I’ve always seen teaching as stepping out of our comfort zone and reaching out to our learners, tapping into their own excellence, skills and talents. This implies resetting priorities, readjusting materials and engaging in a constant process of creating – recreating – evolving. Blogging for me has been the same – I share ideas, materials, tips which I revisit again and again and change through this journey of teaching/learning.
- Blogging is about opening yourself to the world. Teaching is -or at least should be- the same. Most of us feel or have felt vulnerable to expose our weaknesses to our students or other teachers. Blogging feels the same 10 times stronger as you share your ideas with a much wider audience and you are inevitably open to criticism. This is though where you start growing – from showing yourself and embracing the fact that by sharing you are learning more about you.
- Blogging should be meaningful. Just like every activity or exercise we work on in class should be meaningful to our students’ personal and academic growth.
- Blogging should be about embracing failure. This is one of the most challenging aspects of self-growth as we are raised in societies which place so much emphasis on success that failure is often seen as the dark sheep of the (academic) family. I’ve blogged a lot about failure (you can read the posts here, here and in exam contexts here) and written articles (you can read the most recent one here) about how it has helped both me and my students appreciate learning more and I feel relieved that recent education shifts to a growth mindset have made us all more appreciative of how much failure can teach us.
- Blogging needs time off. The same way that teaching needs moments of pause and self-reflection. It is not accidental that I normally post during summer or holidays. That’s when I have time to dig deeper within my self and see what I care to post about and teach about.
This list of course could go on and on but to my mind blogging and teaching are both puzzle pieces of a much larger picture which is who we are and how we can become better versions of ourselves.