Behind the scenes – thoughts on the blog

Ages ago I was asked on Twitter to write a ‘behind the scenes’ of ELTplanning. Well, here’s one (of sorts). It’s not about the process I go through, more just my feelings on blogging.

Loads of teachers have contacted me through ELTplanning this term. Thanks so much for all the compliments. I’m really glad you’ve found some of the activities on here useful.

I started this blog to give something back (sure, a cliché ). So many teachers have helped me on my teaching journey with ideas, encouragement and support. I felt like I wanted to do the same. Naturally, as time goes on motivations change. I wrote about my blogging experiences in this article for ETPro, and mentioned some of the difficulties I’ve faced.

My latest challenge is maintaining integrity. I want to stay true to the objectives I set out when I started blogging. Week after week I’m contacted by companies asking me to write promotional posts, people offering me money to add hyperlinks to various posts, etc. I’m sure this is fairly common. I can’t say it’s not tempting to monetise my blog and push for a bit of income – who wouldn’t want to get paid for something they love doing?

But in all honesty what’s the point? The income I’d get from a blog averaging 25 – 30,000 views a month is minimal. Plus, I’ve already gained loads from blogging – in a roundabout way it’s been my best source of income to date.

If anyone wants to learn about me as a teacher I just refer them to my blog. It’s pretty much a diary of my last couple of years in the industry. It’s got what’s worked well, what I need to improve on, things I’ve tried, how my opinions have changed, etc. That’s awesome, I love having a record of it all. I urge a lot of teachers to do the same as it’s a great tool for reflection, but I think my enthusiasm often puts them off!

Sharing my blog at job interviews or in personal statements has worked well. Sure, it’s bragging to some. But I’m really proud of it, and it’s the best CV/Résumé I’ll ever write. It definitely helped me get my current job – the interviewer became my Senior Teacher and told me that the blog showed my dedication to the role. It was also mentioned during my first interview for a materials writing role – the interviewer told me that they had shared some of my posts with their CELTA trainees (random).

Hearing that others have benefitted from what I’ve shared remains my major motivation to keep writing. I check my blog stats often (they’re addictive) and I’ve started to see that some colleges or universities are referring to my blog. They’re probably running initial teacher training courses, or students are posting up links in forums or something. That’s so cool. Once, I noticed that my own employer referenced one of my posts in their FutureLearn course which was also a big compliment.

The one thing that really gets me down about blogging is the way I’ve been perceived by colleagues. At times I’ve tried to share my ideas with others through things like staff newsletters but have been accused of self-promotion. Once it was suggested (rather scathingly) that I was ‘ambitious and wanted to take over the TEFL world’. That’s tough. It makes me feel bad about what I’ve achieved. Plus, I think it overstates the importance of a humble blog, with most of my posts sharing fairly well-known ideas with no real owner anyway!

But for every ten negatives there’s a massive positive. One of my colleagues once said ‘I really like that post on your site about ways to introduce a lesson, it was so useful’. That alone kept me motivated for a good few months! Really! Sure, it massaged my ego. But it’s taken me a long time to develop confidence in my ability. I still suffer from lack of confidence at times (don’t we all) so comments like that one mean loads.

The network I’ve developed from blogging on various social media platforms has been brilliant. That would easily be in my top three reasons for writing. I only started writing this because of Tekhnologic and ELTCation anyway, so cheers.

Well, that took about an hour. It was worth it, kind of cathartic (in the psychological sense I mean).

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