Number of days my blog has been neglected - Image by chrisinplymouth
Writing a blog is a lot like doing exercise - when you get into a regular routine, it’s easy to keep going but miss a session or two and it’s even easier to slip out of the habit.
And so it is that a near half century of days has passed since I last hit the ‘publish’ button here in my little corner of the blogosphere. In that time, I have had plenty of ideas for blog posts and encountered many a situation that I thought I could share here but for one reason or another, I never put fingers to keyboard and let it all type itself out.
I’ve noticed that many of the blogs I have regularly read over the last couple of years seem to be the same. Look at my blog roll and you’ll see on many of them the most recent updates read ‘3 weeks ago’, ‘1 month ago’ or even ‘6 months ago’ (with the most apt being Scott Thornbury’s ‘S is for Silence’).
So has the blogging bubble burst? Did all this online PLN stuff turn out to be just some fad after all? Certainly not (as the likes of Tyson Seburn would attest)! The ELT blogosphere is alive and well but, like all networked things, it has moved, expanded and changed. I can’t speak for those others but my reasons for an extended break from blogging have been as follows:
- The home front
Their is, of course, more to life than work. After three years of study for my MA, I have been filling the time freed up by not having any study to do by spending time with my family, who have put up with me being busy for too long. My son has just started first grade and he is soon to have a little brother. Anyone with kids will no pregnancy can be an exciting but also stressful period and it’s been plenty of both for us so far. Helping my son with his homework, trips to the doctor and easing the burden on my wife have been priorities for my free time of late leaving little time to blog (and also meaning I had to pull out of the recent YTU ELT Symposium in Istanbul - a real shame as it seemed like a great event!)
- The intense bombardment of work
It’s a good thing I finished my MA last summer as finding time to study would have been a real struggle this year with all my extra ‘responsibilities’. I am now in charge of the 4th and 5th grade ‘skills and conversation’ programme and being forced to write tests, prepare materials, produce standardised lesson plans and do other things that make my dogme-wannabe soul feel all dirty and used. I am also teaching online with other branches of my school in Turkey once again. Class blogs are also a major part of my teaching programme (both regular and online classes with me also overseeing the blogs my colleagues run) meaning a lot of my time for writing posts and answering comments is spent on my students. In-house teacher development projects, seminars, workshops and admin duties also fill my working day to the brim, a stark contrast to previous years when I would have two or three free lessons a day in which to relax, study or blog.
- Retreat and reflection
I guess there was also a subconscious desire to take a step back after the hard work and stress of the MA course (which reminds me, I have some overall reflections on that chunk of my life to come in a blog post soon). I not only blogged for my own professional development over recent times, I also researched blogging (another reminder - I will highlight some of my findings about blogging and reflection soon here too). I wrote blog posts, I read them, I exchanged comments, I analysed blogs, I categorised posts, I evaluated comments, I lived and breathed reflective blogging for most of the last year and then wrote over 15,000 words about it. A break was needed! But I also think that’s an important part of reflection - time. We need time to step back, look at the big picture and take it all in. Reflection doesn’t always have to be shared. Some introspection and self-assessment is needed from time to time
Ok then, but as one of my former MA tutors Julian Edge would say, so what? What did this break mean to me? How has it impacted on me as a reflective practitioner and an ELT blogger? Well, although I didn’t actually write here for a while, the ‘that would make a great blog post’ part of me certainly did not disappear. My experiences and observations in class (mainly struggles this year it would seem) still set that blog bell ringing in my head. I think I also needed to miss blogging a bit so I could come back to it with renewed purpose.
And where does this blog go now? I thought about starting over or at least renaming the blog now my studies are done and dropping the ‘learner’ part (I don’t go in for that ‘lifelong learner’ rubbish!) but it seems I will be learning something new soon (more on that in future posts). I also thought about setting myself a target to blog x number of times a week/month to get back in the groove… but then I remembered something very important. A teacher’s blog does not need an aim or a theme, and nor does it need ‘feeding’ with a specific number of posts or comments. It just needs a teacher willing to connect and share something invaluable - real experiences.