This week, it was a privilege to speak to grade six students at Canadian International School of Hong Kong. The students are inquiring into how the exploration of issues, interests and passions inspires change. This is an ongoing PYP Exhibition unit for them. I was honoured to be invited by their team leader, Benedicte Benoit, to share my journey as a blogger. On this occasion, I was one of four guest speakers and students were given the choice of which sessions to sign up for.
I had a wonderful time during my two sessions and was very impressed with the students’ listening, thoughtful questioning and genuine interest. They welcomed me with enthusiasm and respect. I really hope that some of them are inspired to blog as part of their learning (or even outside school) and I hope that I will be invited back to help them.
I want to use this blog post to summarise the main points of my presentation.
Change doesn’t have to be big
My blog won’t change the world or solve any major problems, and that’s ok. Change doesn’t have to be big. As long as we are doing something positive and helping ourselves/others, we can be proud of our impact. I explained how my blog benefits me more than anyone else because it is a platform for my learning and reflections. It has been a vehicle for my personal and professional growth. As a result of blogging, I am more confident, creative, informed and opinionated. However, I do like to think that it helps other teachers as well. With a global audience, I have the opportunity to inspire my colleagues around the world. I also shared how I use my platform to raise money for Room to Read. I let them into my secret of how I bend some of the rules for this…
Social media can be used for good or bad
I strongly challenge the widespread belief that social media is a negative force. It is simply a tool. Its positive/negative usage depends on the user. I shared how being connected on social media has been wonderfully beneficial for me as a teacher and has provided opportunities that I would not have had without it. I encouraged the students to be digital leaders (beyond digital citizens) and to use social media to do good. We should aim to be content creators and not just consumers.
Anyone can blog
One student kindly commented on how special it felt to listen to a “professional writer”. Increasingly, I think of myself as a writer but by no means a professional one! I corrected him and this prompted an important point: anyone can blog! I’m just someone who has been doing it for a while, that’s all. Blogging allows anyone to express themselves. This level playing field is what makes it so exciting.
Readers should feel valued
One observant student pointed out that all comments on here have replies from me. This sparked an interesting discussion on the importance of engagement, interaction and relationships. I shared how much I value my readers and my desire to show that appreciation. If people write to me, they deserve a response. Furthermore, the comments are usually insightful, invite further dialogue and add value to the blog posts. Despite what the students might see on YouTube, I believe that comment sections can be truly positive, respectful places where discussions and debates can take place. Even as my blog grows, replying to comments is something that I will maintain. It’s important to me that people can relate and feel connected with a real person.
Blogging is not without challenges
I outlined the biggest challenges that I have faced as a blogger. While trolling is a rare occurrence, it happens. I need to be resilient when it does. I did, however, emphasise the very important distinction between nasty comments and comments that are just in disagreement. People are always welcome to disagree with me (and they often do). I have written about this quite a lot on here. But we can disagree and debate professionally and open-mindedly. The other common challenge is the feeling of deflation when we work hard on content and nobody reads it. This is particularly tough when a blog is new. All successful bloggers have persevered through this tough time and continued to work hard on quality content. If we stay motivated and keep writing, readership will grow over time.
Blogging should be enjoyed
In the hope that some students explore blogging, I shared some tips. Most importantly, blogging should be enjoyed. I don’t encourage anyone to blog who doesn’t enjoy it. It should be a way to enthusiastically express interests and passions. Speaking of passion, I shared this quote:
“Working hard for something we don’t care about is called stress. Working hard for something we love is called passion.”
This quote perfectly captures how I feel about teacher blogging. It doesn’t feel like work and it certainly isn’t stressful.
Once again, thank you to CDNIS and Bene for inviting me. I enjoyed reflecting on my blogging journey and sharing these key ideas with the fantastic students. I look forward to future involvement.
To receive blog updates, find the ‘Follow’ icon (below or in the sidebar) or ‘Like’ my Facebook page. Your ongoing support and encouragement are very much appreciated.