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Back to the Top Teaching Blog
January 10, 2018

Secrets of a Teacher Blogger

By Meghan Everette
Grades PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8, 9–12

    I’ve been lucky to be a blogger with Scholastic for the past five years and the two biggest questions I get are, “Do you get free books?” and “What have you learned?” There are some tips and tidbits I’ve picked up from blogging with Scholastic, working with student writers, and getting insights from colleagues. Whether you have never written in your life, or you are a seasoned professional, here are a few secrets of a teacher blogger.

    Types of Blogs | Scheduling | All About the Writing | Style and Imagery | Publicity | Tips

     

    Types of Blogs

    Consider the kind of blog you want to have. Scholastic blogs are focused on classroom solutions from the everyday to the holiday, and from the minor annoyances to pressing issues in education. More than one blogger is represented on the Top Teaching blog, showcasing teachers across the country, grade bands, and subject areas. Did you know Scholastic also features the On Our Minds blog, edu@scholastic, Kid Reporters' Notebook, and many other blogs throughout the site?

    Determine if your blog will be a collective, showcase student writers, or will be yours alone. Even if you have your own blog, you can always highlight others with a short blurb and link. Then consider your brand. Are you going to focus solely on one subject area, or will you blog about many different topics? Are you offering solutions or simply opinions? The more consistent your blog, the more likely you will have followers, but many educators write simply to reflect and share without worrying about page views. It’s all a matter of taste.

     

    Scheduling

    Having a schedule for your blog is key. If you are going to post once a week, figure out a day and stick to it. One of the hardest things for me when I write on my own is that no one holds me to a due date the way my editor at Scholastic does. Grab a calendar (I like the pre-filled Scholastic planning calendar) and plan when you will post.

    Some bloggers like to post something each day, for example: Monday focus on a classroom lesson, Tuesday highlight a tech tool, Wednesday share a list of favorite links, etc. Write out a list of holidays and events throughout the year you might want to focus on, then fill in with your favorite lessons or activities you want to share.

    Remember that a great craft activity for Valentine’s Day that you post on February 14 won’t give readers any time to use what you share. Always consider the amount of time a teacher would need to think about your idea, gather or purchase any materials needed to execute it, and then bring to the classroom on or before the target date.  

    Blogging daily is exhausting. If you plan on posting short reflections, a daily posting schedule might work for you, but blog posts with pictures, plans, printables, or more take a lot of time and dedication. Start small and you can always build in more writing as you go. Most blog sites will also allow you to schedule when a post goes live, so you can carve out writing time when it is most convenient and post on a predetermined day.

    All About the Writing

    Content is key in blog writing. Have you ever clicked to read something and the post went on for days or it wasn’t related to the title at all? For a busy teacher to be able to digest in one read, posts should be short (something I’m not modeling very well in this post!) and succinct. Somewhere between 300-600 words is probably a good range to work in. Student writing can, of course, be shorter and you are more likely to have many posts on the same topic if sharing student work.

    Match your title to what you are writing about. You can be cute, alliterative, or rhyming, but having something catchy that doesn’t relate to the post won’t help readers find what they want to read. "Three Beans for Bunnies" sounds cute, but what is the post about? "Reading Comprehension for Easter" is a better way to tell readers what they are getting.

    Finally, provide links to resources, sites you mention, or products you have used, but do it in a natural way. Readers can tell if you are just creating links and pushing a product, or if you’ve included a useful resource.

     

    Style and Imagery

    Presentation matters. If you have great things to say, but the reader can't read because you've used some crazy font, or have a background color or pattern that renders text illegible, nobody will reap the benefit of your priceless prose.

    If you are going to post pictures of students, you will likely need a formal permission form from parents; don’t just rely on the school registration photo commitment to cover you. And let’s be real — I show student work, but that kid who made his cow upside down? It’s not included in my post and that’s ok. Also, unless the photos are ones you took, you will need permission to re-post. Likewise, include a watermark with your name or other personal branding to ensure you get credit when others re-post your post or photos.

    Photos are very important and often help illustrate an idea where words fail. Keep photos clean and simple. The “rule of thirds” is good for any photographer: think of chopping your image into thirds and using one, two, or three-thirds to compose your image.

    Publicity

    Unless you are writing just for yourself, you’ll want to drum up interest in your blog. Beyond promoting your posts on Facebook and Twitter, consider a few other ways to grab reader attention. First, those photos you took are key. Post an image on social media. Images linked to the content are even more likely to get re-posted, clicked on, and remembered. Pair that with a link and a hashtag and you are more likely to see traffic. Remember to use only hashtags that relate directly to your content and don’t overdo it. Don’t forget to post your link in education groups and to stick all your photos on Pinterest and Instagram.

     

    Final Tips

    • Keep it real (kind of). Your voice should be your own. Don’t steal other’s ideas, work, or images, and be honest about what did and didn’t work. That said, bashing your superintendent or complaining about that crazy kid in your class probably isn’t the best idea for a public post.
    • Toughen Up. People will not leave comments. People will leave hateful comments. Neither one is about you and engaging doesn’t get you anywhere. I wrote about treats for my class once and got ripped apart by people saying sugar is evil. I wrote about my test prep to have the anti-standardized testing folks come out of the woodwork. Take a deep breath and delete or ignore.
    • Actually Edit. The one clear perk of my professional blog is an editor that checks my spelling and grammar, and even then, mistakes happen. If you are going to put work out there, make it your best. Truly re-read and edit what you write, or talk a good friend into a quick onceover for you before going live.
    • Track Yourself. If you are serious about building a following, check out the analytics that come with your blog publishing platform or Google’s free tools. You can pay for more advanced tools, but just knowing what posts were most read and shared can give you big insights into what resonated with people.
    • Share. You might be writing for yourself, but share what you are doing with students. Modeling the habits of a writer can be a great inspiration for kids. If you are having your students write, put yourself out there and write with them.
    • Just Write. If you want to blog, just get going. Write a paragraph. Think of your best (or worst) lesson. Tell why teaching is important to you. Tell how you ended up with two different colored socks on Monday. It doesn’t matter — just write. Getting in the habit is the hardest step. The National Blogging Collaborative is a free service by and for teachers to help foster more educator voices if you need a place to start. Find a buddy and have them hold you accountable. Set a reminder on your calendar. Whatever it takes! Just start writing!

    Scholastic bloggers are teachers, like you. We all have bad days, messy classrooms, and real families. We don’t get unlimited free books. Occasionally, we are asked to review a product with our honest assessment of the product and how we use it, but for the most part, posts are created from our classroom lives. We talk about our classrooms and what works for us, and you can too. It really is that simple. Get writing!

     

     

    I’ve been lucky to be a blogger with Scholastic for the past five years and the two biggest questions I get are, “Do you get free books?” and “What have you learned?” There are some tips and tidbits I’ve picked up from blogging with Scholastic, working with student writers, and getting insights from colleagues. Whether you have never written in your life, or you are a seasoned professional, here are a few secrets of a teacher blogger.

    Types of Blogs | Scheduling | All About the Writing | Style and Imagery | Publicity | Tips

     

    Types of Blogs

    Consider the kind of blog you want to have. Scholastic blogs are focused on classroom solutions from the everyday to the holiday, and from the minor annoyances to pressing issues in education. More than one blogger is represented on the Top Teaching blog, showcasing teachers across the country, grade bands, and subject areas. Did you know Scholastic also features the On Our Minds blog, edu@scholastic, Kid Reporters' Notebook, and many other blogs throughout the site?

    Determine if your blog will be a collective, showcase student writers, or will be yours alone. Even if you have your own blog, you can always highlight others with a short blurb and link. Then consider your brand. Are you going to focus solely on one subject area, or will you blog about many different topics? Are you offering solutions or simply opinions? The more consistent your blog, the more likely you will have followers, but many educators write simply to reflect and share without worrying about page views. It’s all a matter of taste.

     

    Scheduling

    Having a schedule for your blog is key. If you are going to post once a week, figure out a day and stick to it. One of the hardest things for me when I write on my own is that no one holds me to a due date the way my editor at Scholastic does. Grab a calendar (I like the pre-filled Scholastic planning calendar) and plan when you will post.

    Some bloggers like to post something each day, for example: Monday focus on a classroom lesson, Tuesday highlight a tech tool, Wednesday share a list of favorite links, etc. Write out a list of holidays and events throughout the year you might want to focus on, then fill in with your favorite lessons or activities you want to share.

    Remember that a great craft activity for Valentine’s Day that you post on February 14 won’t give readers any time to use what you share. Always consider the amount of time a teacher would need to think about your idea, gather or purchase any materials needed to execute it, and then bring to the classroom on or before the target date.  

    Blogging daily is exhausting. If you plan on posting short reflections, a daily posting schedule might work for you, but blog posts with pictures, plans, printables, or more take a lot of time and dedication. Start small and you can always build in more writing as you go. Most blog sites will also allow you to schedule when a post goes live, so you can carve out writing time when it is most convenient and post on a predetermined day.

    All About the Writing

    Content is key in blog writing. Have you ever clicked to read something and the post went on for days or it wasn’t related to the title at all? For a busy teacher to be able to digest in one read, posts should be short (something I’m not modeling very well in this post!) and succinct. Somewhere between 300-600 words is probably a good range to work in. Student writing can, of course, be shorter and you are more likely to have many posts on the same topic if sharing student work.

    Match your title to what you are writing about. You can be cute, alliterative, or rhyming, but having something catchy that doesn’t relate to the post won’t help readers find what they want to read. "Three Beans for Bunnies" sounds cute, but what is the post about? "Reading Comprehension for Easter" is a better way to tell readers what they are getting.

    Finally, provide links to resources, sites you mention, or products you have used, but do it in a natural way. Readers can tell if you are just creating links and pushing a product, or if you’ve included a useful resource.

     

    Style and Imagery

    Presentation matters. If you have great things to say, but the reader can't read because you've used some crazy font, or have a background color or pattern that renders text illegible, nobody will reap the benefit of your priceless prose.

    If you are going to post pictures of students, you will likely need a formal permission form from parents; don’t just rely on the school registration photo commitment to cover you. And let’s be real — I show student work, but that kid who made his cow upside down? It’s not included in my post and that’s ok. Also, unless the photos are ones you took, you will need permission to re-post. Likewise, include a watermark with your name or other personal branding to ensure you get credit when others re-post your post or photos.

    Photos are very important and often help illustrate an idea where words fail. Keep photos clean and simple. The “rule of thirds” is good for any photographer: think of chopping your image into thirds and using one, two, or three-thirds to compose your image.

    Publicity

    Unless you are writing just for yourself, you’ll want to drum up interest in your blog. Beyond promoting your posts on Facebook and Twitter, consider a few other ways to grab reader attention. First, those photos you took are key. Post an image on social media. Images linked to the content are even more likely to get re-posted, clicked on, and remembered. Pair that with a link and a hashtag and you are more likely to see traffic. Remember to use only hashtags that relate directly to your content and don’t overdo it. Don’t forget to post your link in education groups and to stick all your photos on Pinterest and Instagram.

     

    Final Tips

    • Keep it real (kind of). Your voice should be your own. Don’t steal other’s ideas, work, or images, and be honest about what did and didn’t work. That said, bashing your superintendent or complaining about that crazy kid in your class probably isn’t the best idea for a public post.
    • Toughen Up. People will not leave comments. People will leave hateful comments. Neither one is about you and engaging doesn’t get you anywhere. I wrote about treats for my class once and got ripped apart by people saying sugar is evil. I wrote about my test prep to have the anti-standardized testing folks come out of the woodwork. Take a deep breath and delete or ignore.
    • Actually Edit. The one clear perk of my professional blog is an editor that checks my spelling and grammar, and even then, mistakes happen. If you are going to put work out there, make it your best. Truly re-read and edit what you write, or talk a good friend into a quick onceover for you before going live.
    • Track Yourself. If you are serious about building a following, check out the analytics that come with your blog publishing platform or Google’s free tools. You can pay for more advanced tools, but just knowing what posts were most read and shared can give you big insights into what resonated with people.
    • Share. You might be writing for yourself, but share what you are doing with students. Modeling the habits of a writer can be a great inspiration for kids. If you are having your students write, put yourself out there and write with them.
    • Just Write. If you want to blog, just get going. Write a paragraph. Think of your best (or worst) lesson. Tell why teaching is important to you. Tell how you ended up with two different colored socks on Monday. It doesn’t matter — just write. Getting in the habit is the hardest step. The National Blogging Collaborative is a free service by and for teachers to help foster more educator voices if you need a place to start. Find a buddy and have them hold you accountable. Set a reminder on your calendar. Whatever it takes! Just start writing!

    Scholastic bloggers are teachers, like you. We all have bad days, messy classrooms, and real families. We don’t get unlimited free books. Occasionally, we are asked to review a product with our honest assessment of the product and how we use it, but for the most part, posts are created from our classroom lives. We talk about our classrooms and what works for us, and you can too. It really is that simple. Get writing!

     

     

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