A questionnaire on TEFL blogging – the results

Last month I asked TEFL bloggers to complete a survey about their experiences TEFL blogging. I wanted to share some of my favourite answers from the questionnaire. There’s lots of encouragement and good advice. I’m going to post them unedited and anonymously.  In the interests of space I’m only going to post a few responses to each question. Sorry if yours didn’t get included.

Thanks again to everyone who completed the questionnaire.

How has TEFL blogging affected your teaching?

“Hugely! It’s become a reflective avenue for me, and a way to get feedback, suggests, advice, support and more. Reading other people’s blogs inspires me with new ideas and new ways of thinking about teaching, as well as reminders of old things I’ve forgotten about. Sharing materials and ideas on my own blog makes me think about them even more than I would for my own classes because I know they’re there for public consumption.”

“It’s encouraged me to be more reflective and critical of activities I use, and also to think about the organisation and staging more clearly too; explaining things to someone else really is one of the best ways to be sure you understand it yourself!”

“Blogging in TEFL is being part of a community. I write posts when I want to share something that worked in my classroom, explore a question, or have an issue to vent about. The comments I receive on my blog are supportive and helpful and help me 1) avoid burnout, 2) go to class with new ideas, and 3) make new questions to explore.”

“It’s made me more aware of the reasons I do (and don’t do) things. It’s helped me decrease the gap between what I believe and what I do (to borrow the words of another great blogger!).”

How has TEFL blogging affected your life outside the classroom?

“It’s taken up a fair chunk of what would otherwise be free time.”

“This is the first time I have decided to share my personal reflective notes in an open platform which basically means I need to review everything before it reaches the publishing point. This has given me a different viewpoint to ordinary things in life as well. I mean, I have been able to develop some sort of reflective viewpoint to almost everything in life!”

“I’ve got a built-in learning network that I can meet at conferences. In addition, I’ve built some strong friendships I otherwise wouldn’t have.”

“It’s brought me lots of new friends and made my world a lot smaller. I’ve met people face to face in various different countries who I’ve met through blogging/reading their blogs/them reading mine/knowing them on Twitter/facebook. I’ve been to lots of conferences, and discovered that IATEFL is the best week of my life every year. It’s also given me something to do when I’m feeling homesick or trying to fill my time in a new place, especially when I’m a bit ill and don’t want/am not able to go out.”

What things have you found difficult about blogging?

“Pushing ‘Publish’. Every single time. There’s something vulnerable about blogging and putting yourself out there. But the community is supportive and it’s always worth it.”

“Having too many ideas and not enough time to get them onto my blog. Time is always the main problem. ”

“After a while, it can be a little challenging to keep up motivation to blog. You can feel like you’ve discussed everything with everyone, but it’s not true.”

Sometimes I’ll write a blog post but feel that it doesn’t sound right. It takes me quite a while to blog, and if something doesn’t feel right, I often end up abandoning the post. I currently have 44 draft posts that may or may not ever get published.”

What tips would you give someone who was starting a blog?

“Just write. It doesn’t matter who reads your posts or even if you have no readers. They will come. And if they don’t…you will become a better blogger/teacher/person/you name it by doing it. Sit in front of the screen and just write. Edit later.”

“Don’t do it to be widely read. That will come or not come. Do it because it is in your heart to express yourself and your ideas. So many do it to get clicks and develop income etc… I don’t think that is a valid path or one with heart and espousing the values of education.”

“Ohh tough question. My advice would be to have a clear reason why you are doing it and want to do it. My next advice would be to not worry about hits or comments early on. Maybe also consider writing a few things and having something of a “body of work” before publicizing much. I’d also say to ignore 95% of all the advice you see about blogging from the business world, to my mind it doesn’t seem to match the TEFL world very well at all. Finally, I’d say don’t be afraid to play around or do things differently than you expected.

“I think the first thing to ask yourself is why you want to blog. Because of the dialogic nature, people wonder if they have something useful or worth to say. There are blogs and blogs. So decide what you want your blog to be about. Mine is a journal, diary, personal! I appreciate that people take the time to come and read and especially when they can leave a comment if something struck a chord with them. I use blog for my own development and understanding of learning and teaching. Secondly, mind the way you talk about people in your blog unless of course you have a very good purpose for that and be ready to defend your views. Finally, don’t be afraid to share it. Let people know you are blogging.”