In 2009, when I moved to Switzerland, I did not even know what a blog was. I had heard it floating in the air in discussions, but something negative in my life then helped me discover blogs for what they were. To cut a long story short, the position I was expecting to be hired in fell through due to the outbreak of the financial crisis, and suddenly I found myself unemployed, broke and miserable. Upon searching ELT on Google to make myself feel better, I saw as a first link at the top, Ken Wilson’s blog. I went to explore and I saw a wealth of posts on ELT and not only. I saw people were leaving him comments, and so did I. Ken got in touch, I told him my miserable story…and he encouraged me to start a blog. I was a bit hesitant at first, who will read it, what should I write, this is not going to help me find a job… I started it thankfully.
And I love it!
Why blog – how does blogging help?
Sharing and learning
First of all, I saw from the very beginning that there were other educators out there with the same thoughts and problems as I had. We shared and helped each other – which gave me tremendous motivation and slowly everything started to turn to the better from there. It is a huge community of educators on the ready, out there in every little corner of the world to help out and share and support.
In addition, apart from sharing experiences, educators share teaching ideas, such as lesson plans, links, videos, articles - a whole multitude of ideas for all of us to use. Something you think is a simple idea for you, and have been using for many years in class, could be a revelation for someone else. Just go ahead and share! Your experiences, troubles, happy moments, lesson plans, anything you can express yourself through! There is a welcoming and supportive community of teachers out there waiting to read.
Blogging helps me reflect
A blog can be a journal. There are educators out there who blog every single day about their teaching, education in general or various educational issues that interest them. That does not serve everyone, though.
It can be once a week, once a month, or whenever you have inspiration – you will find your own pace: as long as you use it as a reflective tool, a journal that you can revisit and see what has changed, what has improved or not. It has helped me tremendously as an educator and I feel I am constantly changing and evolving. I am still making mistakes but I am learning from them! I now write only when I feel I have something to say. In the beginning, I felt that I was obliged to write often, or felt bad if it took me up to three months to write. Nothing comes out of it, if I write just to say that have written something – instead, now that I write when I feel like it, it feels much more natural.
I read another educator’s post that inspires me and gives me insight into my own teaching, so I go ahead and write about it. Or when a class goes well, or even not so well, here is always where I turn to, so as to get my thoughts in order. I can see what went well or wrong, and then come up with ways of what I could do better or what I could do again.
I love the fact that there are not only my own posts on the blog
I had seen it on Ken’s blog, and later on many others, that guest bloggers were invited to write – I did it too and it is great! I have read some amazing posts and learned so many things from them about teaching, ad have got so many ideas for my classes that my students love! They are really excited when I tell them that this specific idea has been used first in a classroom as far away as Japan, or Russia! I also love interviewing other educators. I see their stories, their experiences, and I learn from them. Thank you so much to them all!
There are so many things I have learned and keep on learning from blogging – not only my own, not other educators’ as well. I don’t always have the right answers – but I try to share as much as possible, good moments and bad, I try to interact with others and I absolutely love the exchange of opinions. There is agreement, there is disagreement that makes you think, as long as it is constructive criticism. There are so many ideas you get from other educators and so much inspiration! Many are the times when I think what a great idea someone has had, how much I would like to apply someone’s ideas for the classroom and applaud them on that as well.
Vicky Loras has been teaching English (as a foreign language and literature) to students of all ages, for a total of almost fifteen years. She currently lives in Switzerland where, together with her older sister, she has founded The Loras English Network, where they teach English, train teachers and hold children’s events. You can read Vicky's blog here: http://vickyloras.wordpress.com/