Today’s Guest Blogger is Erin from The State That I Am In. Erin currently teaches preschool special education and shares her thoughts on how she’s managed to incorporate social media with her students and their parents.
I became a blogger shortly after I got married, when I was finishing up graduate school. I’m not really sure why I started a blog then. I didn’t even read blogs at the time. An acquaintance had a blog, and it looked like fun to me. I’d always tried to keep a journal growing up, but I really hate my handwriting and have no patience for writing things out by hand. Plus, I think my thoughts are really important and people should want to read them!
I signed up for a blogger account and spent hours stressing over posting and changing colors and whatnot. I posted randomness about my life (I still do) and gradually began reading and commenting on other blogs. Eventually, I moved from blogger to typepad, from typepad to wordpress.com, and from wordpress.com to my very own self-hosted wordpress blog. I love writing on my blog and have gotten to know so many great people through it! Blogging has become my main hobby, but up until last year, I had never really thought that blogging could be more than a hobby.
At the beginning of the last school year, I became my building’s instructional technology facilitator. In addition to teaching my wee ones, it was my job to teach other teachers how to use the technology we had available to us. Funny how my blogging hobby had actually given me the skills to be qualified to do this. If you’ve ever worked with preschool teachers, you’ll find that they are generally afraid of technology. I actually had to show 10 teachers in my building how to set up and turn on their computers last year!
I knew it was going to be a tricky year. I was going to have to prove to the other teachers that using technology would be worth their time. While talking to another district teacher, I found out that she was starting a blog for her kindergarten students. The idea intrigued me, but I was hesitant at first. What were my preschool special education students – most of whom function at the level of a two-year-old – going to do with a blog? I decided to just go ahead and give it a try. If it didn’t work, it didn’t work.
I spent quite a bit of time on my home visits at the beginning of the year explaining to parents what a blog was. Some parents were naturally hesitant to have their child’s picture appear on the blog, but most agreed to try it. My first couple of posts were just summaries of our days at school with random pictures. As I played around more with the blog, I started adding slideshows, which were a huge, hit with the parents and my students! I also then got permission from every single parent to have his or her child appear on the blog. I loved having the blog as a way to bring families into the classroom, and my kids loved seeing themselves and their accomplishments. I was even able to record myself reading some of our favorite books so that the kids could listen to the story at home!
Overall, my classroom blog has been a huge success and I plan to do even more with it this coming school year. I now have other teachers in my building who are interested in blogging, and I get frequent e-mails from teachers across the country about how to get started. Blogging may have started out as just a hobby for me, but I now have a personal blog, a classroom blog, and a business website that includes a blog. Social networking tools, like blogging, are a great way to get to know people online, but they are also a great way to enhance your work life and build your business.
I work very hard to keep my personal and professional Internet lives separate. If you are interested in seeing my classroom blog or business site, please e-mail me at stateiamin1 [at] gmail [dot] com for the links!