Connected Development - Why blogging still matters

Strength in connections
We are once again on the verge of the annual IATEFL Conference to be held this year in Glasgow.

I will be there and I will be talking about, among other things, blogging.

I am of course mindful of the fact that this is IATEFL 2017 and not IATEFL 2007, so I will not be describing what a blog is or how one works. I will instead be focusing on the role blogging has played in pushing my development as a teacher forward over the last 6 or 7 years.

I can honestly say that I would not be where I am today had I not started blogging. Engaging with a community of bloggers has provided a platform for me to share my experiences, share in the experiences of others, find new opportunities and challenges, and, most importantly of all, become a better teacher.

Blogging has helped me connect with a diverse group of teachers around the world in a manner that would not have been possible otherwise. The ELT blogging community is a vibrant staffroom turned up to 11.

There are those who say blogging for teachers has proven to be superficial. Too many posts lack substance and only focus on the procedure. They share lesson ideas or even whole lesson plans with little to no discussion of what makes it a successful lesson or what potential issues need to be anticipated.

But that is only part of the blogging story. There is also the part in which teachers get critical. They share and analyse success and failures. They offer advice, support, and empathy through comments. They have critical moments in which they further their understanding of the impact of a specific in-class moment and also their beliefs about teaching in general.

The interesting thing is that I do not reflect this way often with my immediate colleagues whom I see every day. Our staffroom conversations tend to be social and the work-related chats are usually to pass on information or share materials. It is when sat here with my keyboard under my fingertips that I start to engage in a reflective process. I analyse and try to make sense of my thoughts in a way that other people can read and reflect on.

That doesn't always lead to a blog post. There have been several occasions when I have identified something in class as a 'bloggable moment'. I then think it over, analyse it, reflect on it, and consider its impact on my teaching. Without blogging enabling that reflective mindset, most of those moments would have just passed me by.

Through connecting with other teachers and connecting with that reflective space in my own mind, blogging still matters to me a great deal. My own posts, other teachers' blogs, the comments, discussion, and introspection they inspire, and the community that forms around them all connect to constantly challenge me to become a better teacher and that's why blogging is still worth talking about at IATEFL 2017.


You can see my talk on Thursday 6 April, 12.00 – 12.30 in Boisdale 1 Room as part of the LTSIG Day.

Title - Connected Development – teacher reflection and online networks

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