When I began blogging back in 2011, I entered the world bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, expecting to be behind in the game for awhile, and anticipating finding some great middle and high school bloggers out there who would be willing to collaborate and share ideas. I fully expected to gain hundreds of eager middle and high school English teacher followers in a few months, clamoring to read my articles and share ideas. How wrong I was.
First...what blogging world? Venturing out into this unknown, I found a bustling, welcoming, and exciting world....of primary and elementary bloggers. I learned all about read-alouds and Daily 5 and printables and clip art. But where, oh where, were middle and high school teachers? I searched diligently for weeks to find bloggers who shared ideas and collaborated on the middle and high school levels. I found a few, and those people remain very good friends to this day (and I will be sharing links from those amazing teacher bloggers in the future), but we are all in the same lonely boat, feeling like our ideas and tips are being lost in cyberspace, and like we are talking to a room of tumbleweeds and crickets.
Fast forward to 2015 - and the world of blogging has exponentially EXPLODED, in my opinion, because of TpT revolution. Middle and High School bloggers are a'plenty, although I would certainly say that the elementary and primary teachers certainly have the majority of blogs out there. There are so many reasons teachers should be scouring these blogs, and here are 7 great reasons teachers should be networking on the internet now more than ever!
7. Twitter. Did you know that there are special chat times for teachers to get together to chat about certain subjects? I didn't when I first started this all. Cybraryman's Internet Catalog is a database of chat times for educators from all subject areas and disciplines. For example, some of the chats that I have participated in are #edchat and #engchat. Just login to Twitter during those times, search for the hasthag, and join in. In order to add your comment, be sure to add the same hashtag in your tweet. Warning, Twitter chats can move EXTREMELY fast, depending upon the subject, so you may want to sit back and watch a few times. It is interesting to see the different points of views of educators, principals, librarians, policy makers, etc. all gathering to discuss a particular subject. One of the newest chats to Twitter is one specifically for secondary English teachers on Tuesday nights at 8pm EST. Check out #2ndaryELA.
6. The blogging world has changed. I touched upon this before, but the blogging world is a different animal now. Teachers are not only selling their own classroom-tested products through TeachersPayTeachers and such sites, they are also blogging about ideas, tips, tricks, and more. Teachers are putting their ideas out there for others to see. I'm talking about teachers who are spending hours putting together a lesson to share with their followers. Teachers who are blogging about their victories and failures in the classroom. Teachers who are sharing organizational tips, grading tips, best practices, hands-on "How Tos", and more. Gone are the days when blogs meant long-winded, pithy (read: boring!) commentaries on broad-spectrum teaching policies or merely a portal for a teacher's classes to share their students' comments on the chapter they read that night...the world is full of so much more! Today's teacher-blogger is opening up their classroom, creativity, ideas and hearts to other teachers. For a huge list of blogs, try the huge TpT roundup of blogs here. You will definitely have to weed through to find blogs that are still active and/or are of interest to you, but there are a ton to choose from, for sure.
5. Links to fabulous teacher-created material. Teachers are now making what they have been creating for their own classrooms available for other teachers--both for free and for a fee. The common consensus seems to be that once you find a great teacher-author out there...you have struck GOLD! Everyone knows that the best material comes from teachers themselves...those who work in the trenches...those who have used the materials in their own classroom and know what works and what doesn't. Teacher bloggers are now sharing these ideas and products through social media (i.e. blogs, Instagram, Facebook, and even Periscope). Teachers are not only sharing these products, but teaching you how to use them, discussing what works and what doesn't with other teachers... in real time. Additionally, collaborative blogs stream product, after freebie, after tip, after article! Check out Teaching Blog Central or Teaching Blog Addict.
4. Pinterest. If you have not heard of Pinterest, you might want to lift the rock a little to get some sun :) Pinterest is the new craze, and educators have taken over. Seriously. Pinterest is a visual smorgasbord of ideas from teachers of all backgrounds. Teachers are "pinning" everything from favorite recipes to inspirational quotes, gift ideas to classroom organization ideas, to actual lesson plans and teaching materials to their boards. These boards can be followed, like following a page on Facebook. Each time a board that you follow is pinned, you see what that person has pinned. If you like it, you can "like" it, or repin to one of your boards. The more people you follow, the more ideas you can gather! I have made a list of 10 Pinterest Boards that Secondary Teachers Should be Following, and Emily at Education to the Core has made a list of elementary teachers to follow on Pinterest.
3. Camaraderie, Collaboration, Inspiration, Support, and Fun! When I asked a few blogging buddies why teachers should be a part of the social world, they resoundingly responded that social networking has opened up a new realm of support, collaboration, and inspiration for them. It is through blogging and networking with others that we gain support and find inspiration where we may have had none. Teachers are making it clear that through social networking, they are actually becoming better teachers. How is that for combating burnout? Doesn't it make sense? We can all learn and grow from each other, and isn't it more fun to collaborate and support each other than to sit alone grading papers? One of the more fun ways to just CONNECT is through Instagram. Learn more about other like-minded people, going through the same struggles you are.
2. Giveaways. Did you know that bloggers and Facebookers are constantly running giveaways? We all want your attention, and we are willing to give things away in order to get that attention. I have seen giveaways for free products, gift baskets, subscriptions to services, gift cards to Amazon and Barnes and Noble, and a ton more. We also so appreciate having an audience rather than talking to an empty room, so we are willing to show you how much we appreciate it. Keep checking Facebook pages, Pinterest pins, and Instagram for these announcements.
1. Finally, in the #1 spot...FREEBIES! Everyone loves getting things for free, and teacher bloggers love to give things away! Not only are there entire blogs dedicated to freebies only, like Classroom Freebies that spew amazing teacher-created freebies, but so many teacher bloggers out there give away a ton for free! All you have to do is read the blog post (by following on Google reader or a similar reader) or follow on Facebook! Freebies are literally everywhere you turn in the blogging world. You just have to keep your eyes open and be willing to give the world of social networking a try.
Social Media has truly opened up a new world for me. I have never considered myself a social person...in fact, I am quite the homebody. By allowing myself to engage with others in the online world, I have met so many gifted, talented, and inspirational people whom I have learned so much from professionally and personally. It has truly become my professional learning community, especially now that I am no longer in the classroom.
I truly can't wait to meet anyone else who would like to join us--especially those middle and high school teachers out there. Now you know what you're missing! What am I missing? Please chime in!