I am proudly serving as a #MTBoS Mentor and preparing for the January/February Blogging Initiative. What better time to reflect on my blogging journey (so far)???
I am also participating in my own district’s professional learning opportunity (led by our team of Digital Learning Coaches) Find Your Voice Through Blogging. I am very thankful for this team to support educators in our district to tell their story, reflect on their teaching, and contribute to the great knowledge base on the web.
For these reasons, I have recently given my blog a much needed re-vamp (thank you WordPress for the awesome themes!) and kickstarted my writing again. Though I have two blogs (one is more blog-like and the other is used for information dissemination), my WordPress blog is my focus recently.
Blog #1: A Greater Impact
In the summer of 2015, following the most impactful opportunity of my career, I was ready to establish my own personal/professional blog. I chose WordPress for a few reasons:
- A Separate & Different Site
Since I had already established the CISD Mathematics blog (see Blog #2 below) as a Blogspot, I wanted a site that was clearly (to me and potential readers) separate.
2. A Challenge to Learn
WordPress was new to me and I wanted to challenge myself to use something new – to learn to navigate and utilize the tools and settings. I am a Lead Learner (I borrowed this term from somewhere and love it!) and strive to model continuous improvement, thus making this a great opportunity to learn! I am still learning the potential and power of WordPress.
3. Research led me to WordPress
I read this post from Vicki Davis about why she chose to move her very impressive site from Blogger to WordPress. Clearly she invested time and consideration into her decision and I respected that. Also, some of my favorite bloggers are on WordPress: Jon Orr, Michael Fenton, Graham Fletcher, Ian VanderSchee, and Dan Meyer.
Choosing my blog name and corresponding site name (A Greater Impact) was a lengthy process (it’s my personality to agonize over such a decision). My recommendation to someone struggling with pulling the trigger is to write down all of your ideas and carry that paper with you for a week. Each time you think of anther idea, add it to the list. At the end of the week, start marking out the ones that don’t speak to you. Test the others on WordPress (or your chosen site) to see if they already exist. Then, set a deadline for yourself and go for it. It really isn’t that major of a decision (except it is because unlike the theme and background image, this cannot be changed). Thank you to the MTBoS for these tips.
The first post was easy – ADE Institute 2015. Wow. The rest is history. Well, it’s math, but you get it.
Blog #2: CISD Mathematics
I have a Blogspot I use for Mathematics updates in my district (http://cisdmath.blogspot.com/). Using MailChimp, information I post is automatically delivered to the email boxes of recipients within CISD at designated times/days. I have it set up to deliver at 7:00 am on weekday mornings following any posts I create. Details of this blog were thought through carefully – from the title, the image (official district logo) and the font of the word Mathematics (our mascot is a Cowboy). My decision to house this blog on Blogger was a simple one – we utilize Google for Education in our district and I am modeling for my campus administrators and educators. And, I can log in through Google, so there’s one less username/password to remember (bonus!).
I utilize the blog to post information not best suited for email. Some posts contain professional learning opportunities, updates from our state education agency (TEA), or process updates from mathematics initiatives. I recognize the importance of multi-faceted communication efforts and I try to share information in many ways if it is important for my constituents to know about it (spoken word, written communication, digital media, social media, etc.).
I recognize I have room to improve upon this blog, but getting started and establishing consistency were some of my first priorities.
- Read the eBook 10 Habits of Bloggers that Win by Vicki Davis (if you sign up for her mailing list, she’ll send you a DropBox link via email). Any tips I could share are beautifully articulated in her book.
- Use images (photos you take are best, but Pixabay.com is good, too.) and embed links (be sure to check the “open link in a new tab” so readers can easily navigate back to your post.
- Read other blogs for research purposes. Why do you prefer certain blogs? Is there something about those blogs that you would like to replicate in your own?
- Ask for feedback. Reach out to your PLN via Twitter or colleagues down the hall to let you know what is working/not working about your blog. A fresh set of eyes provides new insight.
- Continue to improve. Don’t be afraid to venture into uncharted waters (like I did with WordPress) or try a new theme to solve readability or organization problems.