Blog Post

One Year of Blogging

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I have great reason to celebrate: one year of blogging!

Well, one year and something….

Although this post is rather late, mainly due to a really heavy teaching schedule in July and August, I have been thinking about it and writing bits and bytes whenever I had a few minutes.

On the 1st of July in 2009, I posted my first post, not really knowing where this would lead me, not expecting the rich rewards blogging has brought me!

In these first twelve months, I wrote 40 blog posts, not a very great number compared to the output of some of the bloggers who are featured on my blogroll, but for me, given the time some of my posts take to give birth to, quite a good number!

Time for some stock-taking then… What has this year of blogging given me?

Apart from the obvious – an unexpected number of visitors, a few thousand eyes which read my posts and commented on them, a few honourable mentions in the annual blogger awards – there were tremendous additional gains for me and this is what this post is about.

In this great TED video, R ichard St. John shares his 8 secrets of success, a distillation of what 500 hundred successful people shared with him in the 500 interviews he took over the last few years.

http://video.ted.com/assets/player/swf/EmbedPlayer.swf

Here are the eight secrets in a word cloud in case you’ve watched this TED talk before and just need a quick reminder:

cloud

Richard St.John’s Eight Secrets of Success – Made with http://www.wordle.net/

For some reason, this particular video has resonated greatly with me and I want to explore his eight key words to see how they apply to what I have gained from this year of blogging and meeting some great educators who  have  become very important to me over the past year and form the heart of my PLN (Personal Learning Network).

And lest the ill-informed and casual reader should think that success is only about money, well, I am taking sides on this right now:  I wish I had a lot more of it than I have, but that is not what I equate with success although  Richard St. John claims a direct pipeline between success and money in this TED talk.

Passion Zone:

I started out with a passion for music.  Teaching (and later teacher education) came to my life by a series of coincidences, but I found myself getting more and more passionate about teaching and helping teachers reach their full potential rather than less and less as the years go by.

Blogging has given me the opportunity to meet and talk with other educators who share the same passion. They have renewed and reinforced my belief in the importance of passion with their ideas and information they share on new and exciting developments, especially in the area of educational technologies.

Passion can also become a great  help in transmitting  other “viruses”, such as working harder, stretching yourself to try out new and possibly more challenging things, so being in a ‘passion zone’ is a great injection of energy to keep doing our jobs as educators (as opposed to being in a ‘passion free’ zone where indifference cannot inspire any educator to keep developing….)

It takes time but it’s worth it!

Blogging – or any kind of article writing, for that matter – is more reflective and developmental since by dint of the nature of the written word, we are forced to clarify our thoughts, think of audience, put ideas into some logical framework and order. If this is not a thinking tool for teacher and trainer development, I don’t know what is!!!

On the other hand, blogging can take a while and can be hard work. Good posts may appear effortless to the reader, just like the prima ballerina performing a flawless pas des deux may make it look so incredibly easy to do, you are fooled into believing you could just as easily put on a tutu (or tights!) and attack the dance floor!!! Then, you try to lift your leg and it doesn’t go higher than 10 inches off the floor…. hmmm… see what I mean?

But with time, it gets easier – like anything, I guess. To those colleagues who are reluctant, I would suggest “Get started! You won’t get better by waiting! You will get better by trying!”

Serious bloggers – and I do not count myself amongst them, I hasten to add – constantly amaze me by their commitment and perseverance to excel. This has been a great inspiration for me and for many colleagues and trainees  with whom I try to share these thoughts.

Going beyond your comfort zone

The pursuit of excellence in education has been my motto and the mission statement of my school since the day it was established.  To become an outstanding educator, you need to stretch yourself beyond the limits of what you normally do. There is no accomplishment without some challenge. Nothing good comes easy. No expert performer in any field, be they a prima ballerina, a concert pianist, a master chef  or a master teacher, has been able to attain high performance skills without stretching themselves and going the extra mile.

In this past year, I have watched how some of the  fellow educators I have come into contact with through this blog and through Twitter, famous or not, are prepared to put in the long hours it takes to keep developing themselves as teachers, teacher educators, authors, lecturers, presenters or bloggers (or any combination of those) and I have seen evidence of these words.

Stay within your comfort zone, never stretch yourself, and you will probably never achieve much or achievements will take a lot longer to come your way.

You learn more by sharing:

Serving others within and outside one’s own community is a goal worth pursuing in any case. For an educator, serving the community comes as part of the package deal of being one – and yet…

And yet, we are all aware of educators or institutions not in the business of sharing but in the business of taking only. Sometimes, it’s hard to promote this ethic – share to learn – when teachers live in a world where their employers or large corporations do nothing but take or exploit and keep getting richer.

It has always been very hard to convince someone who works for a mere pittance that sharing is in their interest and it is a notion that many find absolutely impossible to understand.

Personally, I have found that the more I share, the more I learn and the more keeps coming back to me from a community of educators scattered around the world who make my life richer and my learning more exciting every day of the week.

Creativity and imagination

Many teachers believe they are not creative enough to generate new ideas. Such colleagues often come from oppressive or traditional societies, families, cultures, educational backgrounds and some have been even told off for attempting to go the extra mile. This attitude can easily stunt creativity and undermine confidence.

And yet, given the right stimulation and encouragement, I have so often witnessed teachers blooming into  high levels of creativity and productivity that it has encouraged me to believe that it is not so hard to get people out of this mindset.   kapitzvirt

Blogging can help in the creative process since much of what we call creative is often a development or an elaboration of what someone else started out there.  Reading blogs and engaging in conversations may do pretty much the same.

So, what does this all boil down to? For me, it’s a success story and I have loved every minute of it. It’s possible and accessible to any educator and although money hasn’t quite followed as Richard St. John has suggested, I still have high hopes of some!

If you have found this blog post interesting and want to know more about the people I have mentioned, follow the bloggers on my blogroll, follow some great educators on Twitter , follow them on Facebook, on Nings or Groups or Wikis and do also tell me what you think!

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6 replies »

  1. Hi Marisa,

    I loved what you wrote and I believe part of it is because I see myself in so much of it – as I am sure many other teachers do. And you were able to put it in a very simple way. And it also got to me because ever since joining twitter about 3 weeks ago I found myself among so many incredible people (present company included), so many passionate, inspired (and most certainly inspiring as well), creative, amazing educators. It gave me a boost (and a much needed one too), a desire to read more, learn more, know more – to be able to take part in those discussions, to say what I thought too.
    So, I guess what I mean is: thanks for sharing. I am sorry I missed the biggest part of your first year of blogging, but I look forward to the next years of it.

    Congratulations! : )

  2. Hi Marisa,

    This is a fantastic post. I love the subtopics you’ve chosen here. If you ever want to write an easy version of this for English learner bloggers, I would love to post it on MyEC as a guest post on my blog. Or you could post it on your own profile, as I know you created one a while back. I do my best to encourage them to break from their comfort zones and use their imaginations, but a fresh voice such as yours would surely help. I’d also like to introduce the idea of a “guest post” in one of my writing challenges. This is something our bloggers haven’t explored yet. It could be Writing Challenge #23 (or a future one) if you are interested.
    http://my.englishclub.com/profile/MarisaConstantinides

    Very inspiring.
    Thanks,
    Tara

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