'Please elaborate' is a phrase that I often say to my 4th grade students or write down on their classwork. Tell me more! Explain this idea! Add more detail! These are some of my other favorite phrases that can also be found dancing across the margins of my students' papers. (Yes, I do use a lot of exclamation points because I am truly excited to know more about their thinking.) So, when I finally got up the nerve to start a blog, it only seemed natural that I would give myself this same advice.
My journey to blogging began when I first started to delve further into the world of educational technology thanks to the encouragement of my friend and former colleague Cathy ( @iwearthecrowns ). I am fortunate enough to have a 1:1 Chromebook classroom and I wanted to explore more resources for my students. She encouraged me to develop my PLN and connect with other educators. I started my Twitter account earlier this year @mermaid2teach . I also attended #NJPAecet2 this year. This is where I really learned about the power of my PLN in person. I made many valuable connections and gained more confidence in my ability to contribute to the educational community.
I left NJPAecet2 with a renewed sense of purpose and excitement. I began to participate in various Twitter chats thanks to my friends Steve ( @mr_isaacs ) and Barry ( @barrykid1 ). I found that I was getting responses to my tweets from people that I really admired. Not only were they responding, they were validating my opinion and sometimes even re-tweeting it! After a few months of these chats a few friends started to suggest that I turn some of my ideas into blog posts. This thought had crossed my mind a few times but I always dismissed it because I wasn't sure that anyone would be able to connect with my reflections in a meaningful way.
Recently, I was again encouraged to blog by another PLN connection Sean ( @smgaillard ). This was a huge compliment because I always enjoy his blog posts and writing style. I shared my concern with him that others wouldn't be able to relate to my posts. He responded that he would read and shared that his colleague Natalie ( @NKrayenvenger ) would too. This was the final push that I needed to start blogging.
Next, I wondered where to start. This is when the idea for "Please Elaborate" was born. I realized that I had been exhibiting all of the classic signs of a reluctant writer! I had been putting off my writing because I wasn't sure that others would appreciate it. I couldn't come up with post ideas because I didn't know where to start. I told others that I planned to start blogging but never followed through. It was time to apply the advice that I give to my reluctant writers to myself.
First, I needed time to sort all of this out. Thanksgiving weekend has been a great time for me to reflect and plan for what comes next. Like many teachers, I made myself a checklist. I decided that my blog would follow my "Please Elaborate" theme by elaborating on ideas and tweets that I feel strongly about and want to reflect on. I also decided that my blog posts will be relatively brief (except for this one!). I read blog posts by Sean, Natalie, and others in my PLN as blog research. Lastly, I set a goal for myself of at least one blog post per month. I don't want to put too much pressure on myself but if I am going to get better at this, I need to practice!
These are the tips that I share with my writers too. Give yourself enough time to plan, write, and revise. Make a checklist and plan your writing out (even if it is only for a minute). Pick a topic and stick to it. Know your audience and choose an appropriate amount of writing for the assignment. Hold yourself accountable, just because you budgeted the time to write doesn't mean you will do it. Finally, just write something! Writing something is always better than leaving the page blank because YOUR IDEAS MATTER.
My ideas matter and they are relevant whether thousands of people read this post or just me and my mom. This is my biggest take away from my journey to blogging. As teachers we find it easy to share our wisdom with students but sometimes we need to take our own advice! If you made it this far, thank you. Thank you for taking some of your valuable time to read my thoughts. I appreciate you and hope that you find the courage to try something new too!