Lindsay Brazell

Music Educator and Creative Professional

4 Ways Teachers Can Benefit From Blogging

I have been blogging since about 2010 when I was in between college and graduate school. I already had a personal website for my music, so adding a blog section was the next step. For me, blogging about music, choir, and education became a way for me to process what I had learned, what I was still curious about and the ideas I was developing, and how I could help other students in my position.

Since then, my blog has seen it’s ups and downs. There was a time when my blog was on several music education blogger lists, which was probably when my website had incredible stats and I was incredibly active on Twitter and other PLNs. Then school would start and my writing time would diminish, or I would start working, or I would get engaged and married, etc. I’ve kept my blog going regardless of any amount of attention it receives for one reason: because I enjoy writing about the subject matter, and if it helps someone, that’s awesome! (Though, deep down, I would love the stats I had back then!)

I learned a lot from reading teacher blogs. I credit some blogs for preparing me in ways coursework could not offer. Teachers who write are not following a curriculum, they are just sharing their own experiences. What better curriculum than real life, right?

Maybe you think you’re experiences are average teacher-tales, but I feel differently. We are all unique human beings, and your teacher-tales are going to be unique to you. The way you respond to behavior problems, the way you communicate with parents, the way you destroy cell phones in rehearsal, the obnoxiously large object you use as a bathroom pass to discourage students leaving the room for no reason…we need to know these things, because somewhere out there is a teacher who is having a problem you have already solved.

Here are # reasons you should give blogging a try:

  1. Like I just said, there is a teacher who is having a problem you have already solved. Maybe you have some creative ideas or classroom decoration tips. To start off, maybe your first post should be advice for a new teacher. We all did crazy things our first year that we regret and probably no longer speak of in teacher company. Pay it forward! Sharing is caring.
  2. It helps you reflect. Maybe you had a rough week of rehearsal and are feeling discouraged about a particular piece. Write a blog post about what you tried, your results, and detail how the students felt, and how you felt. On the contrary, maybe you taught a freaking awesome lesson and you definitely didn’t see it going that way. Write a blog post so we can all bask in your greatness. Whether it works or it doesn’t, we would love to know!
  3. Storytelling is an art. Aside from teacher tips and tricks, I love reading student success stories, or just real life teacher literature, or drama if that’s what you want to call it. We’ve all had that student that brought us to tears with a note they wrote us, and other tear-jerking moments. Write a blog post so that when we are feeling discouraged, you can assure us that what we are doing is important, regardless if our day doesn’t reflect that.
  4. It can be a fantastical tool for your program. If you don’t want to start off with a personal blog, try blogging on your program’s website. Or, make a section of your personal blog dedicated to your ensembles/classes. Blogging about concert dates or festival results, or fun days in rehearsal not only creates a community with your students and your family, but it’s something your school and community members can engage in. Maybe you can write a blog post about how to practice your music at home, or start a listening journal assignment posting YouTube videos and questions. 

Ok, so maybe you are saying, “This all sounds great Lindsay, and I am slightly interested in starting a blog, but I don’t even know where to start.” Behold, my next paragraph.

WordPress is by far my favorite blogging platform. It is so user friendly, and just a joy to use. You can definitely use Blogger or whatever else is out there, but I’m team WordPress all the way. You have two options:

  1. You can use the free WordPress.com blog, where you’ll have a web address like “yourcoolname.wordpress.com” and you’ll have a few customizable theme designs to choose from and it’s great. It is definitely a great first step. You can get your own custom domain name (yourcoolname.com) for about $15-ish. As for other features, that’s about all!
  2. You can go self hosted with WordPress.org. Basically, this means that your website is hosted on a private server and you can do a lot more. (Technically, that was not the correct definition, but my words are geared more toward the less-web-tech-inclined folk). I use BlueHost to host my website, because that’s what Michael Hyatt uses, and he knows everything about blogging. In all seriousness though, BlueHost has incredible technical support, both via live chat and over the phone. For someone who knows nothing about building a website, this is critical for me. They guide me through troubleshooting, or sometimes they just go ahead and fix it for me! 

Option 2 requires a small yearly investment, but to me, it’s worth it. Owning real estate on the internet is great when you are building a platform. In fact, Michael Hyatt has a tutorial about how to set up a WordPress.org website in 20 minutes. It’s painless!

With WordPress.org, you can install plugins like google analytics, social media integration, and all kinds of bells and whistles, of which I use the basic bells and whistles. You can also use custom themes, some of which are free, or you can purchase anything you like. I highly recommend Elegant Themes if you are willing to pay, just because you pay yearly and you have access to all 70 of their themes, their technical support is amazing and life-saving at times, and they are user friendly and highly customizable. WordPress.org requires you to have your own domain name. It just gives you a little more credibility, and it’s cooler.

The rest is in your hands! Whether you start with a WordPress.com or WordPress.org blog, the important part is to start writing! I gave you 4 good reasons, and if you need more than that, I’d be happy to continue the conversation! So, go blog!

 

**Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means that if you click on them and end up purchasing a product from that website, I will make a small commission. This helps fund the expenses in maintaining my blog. I appreciate your support!**

 

Photo Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/markusspiske/

 

Interested in starting a blog? Try it out, and let me know how I can help! Leave a comment below, or continue the conversation on Twitter @LindsayBrazell.

 

About Lindsay

I’m Lindsay, a choral music educator by day, a singer-songwriter by evening, and a writer when time allows. You can find my latest album, The Room I Found – Lindsay Morelli on iTunes.

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