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Thursday, September 25, 2014

Guest Post: Blogging 101

Hi everyone! Today I'm excited to introduce you to a wonderful blogger: Jennifer from The Yellow Brick Road! I found her blog last year and felt that as a teacher I could relate to so much of what she shared, and got quite a few awesome ideas from her as well. This summer Jennifer decided to become a full-time teacher-author/blogger, and she has shared some fantastic tutorials on her blog for blog design, so I wanted to invite her to come and share some of her top tips for blogging. Having started this blog not too long ago myself, I am excited to hear her advice. After you read her post here, don't forget to head on over to her blog to find more awesome ideas for music teachers and bloggers! Enjoy!

First, I would like to thank Elizabeth for inviting me to be a guest on her blog. I'm thrilled to share my ideas with all of you in my first venture as a guest blogger!

Today I'll be sharing what I've learned about blogs as a long-time reader and author. Long ago, in my first years of teaching, music education blogs were a haven for newbie music teachers like me. I've since moved beyond that frightening first year, but I continue to value the many benefits that blogs bring to my life, including real-life experiences, teaching tips, and amazing ideas for the classroom.

Back when I was an avid blog-reader, I tended to have a lot of questions about how to start blogging. Today, I'll be dissecting some of those questions, along with questions I've heard repeatedly from others. Whether you're a reader, author, or blogger-in-training, these ideas will help get you started in one of my favorite music teacher resources: blogs.

Why should I continue to read blogs, and why might I choose to author my own blog?

When you consider the wealth of knowledge that comes from real-life experiences of music teachers from around the world, reading blogs is the most cost-effective professional development you'll ever receive. I've learned about classroom management, music technology, curriculum development, assessment tools, and many other best practices, all by reading music education blogs. As an added bonus, many blogs offer music resources and freebies that you can immediately implement into your own classroom.

Reading blogs also prevents the social isolation that many music teachers experience in their first years. When I was teaching elementary music, I often felt as though I was on my own little, musical island. After becoming a follower of several music education blogs and connecting with other teachers through social media, I discovered that my experiences were shared among a large group of music teachers from all around the world. It made me feel less alone and helped me to feel more confident about the decisions I was making for my own elementary music program.

As a teacher, what are the benefits to becoming a blog author?

Writing about your experiences as a teacher is a great way to reflect on your practice. When I write an entry about how to play a rhythmic game or how to manage the classroom, I'm forced to reflect on my efficiency as a teacher. Through your writing, you're held accountable by your readers to present ideas that are both thorough and effective. Through this type of self-reflection, you learn to improve your craft and fine-tune every detail of your lesson.

Blogging is more than just improving your teaching; however, it's also a way to share your knowledge with others. You may be surprised to discover that what seems like a simple idea to you is considered a breakthrough by another teacher.

Below is a short list of blogs and the reason why their authors continue to share their thoughts with the world.

-To record experiences for family, friends, or the entire world
Love, Teach

-To share ideas and connect with colleagues
The Yellow Brick Road

-To satisfy a desire to write
Laura Writes Stuff

-To earn an income through writing
The Art of Doing Stuff

What would I write about as a blog author?

You've probably heard this before, but it's worth repeating. Write about what you know. The best entries I've ever written are the ones in which I felt the most passionate, hence my own music education blog. Your perspective is unique and valuable. To quote Dr. Suess, “Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”

How do I get started?

To get your blog running, you'll need to choose a platform, such as Blogger, Weebly, or Wordpress. As for the looks of your blog, you can choose to hire a blog designer or purchase a pre-made blog template.

If you're like me, and tend to "learn by doing," you may want to design your own blog. It's not nearly as daunting as it sounds. If you'd like to go this route, you can check out my tutorials here. In these tutorials I take you through designing your blog header step-by-step. I give you tips for choosing a color palette, properly crediting graphic artists, as well as how to create a clickable blog header for your social media icons.

How often should I write in my blog?

I know from personal experience that I won't be consistent in visiting a blog if the author isn't consistent in posting. If a blogger says, "I'm going to post once a week," then I expect them to follow through. Occasionally there are unforeseen circumstances that make writing a post impossible, in which case it's nice to hear from the blog author why posts will be delayed. I value honesty, and I suspect that other readers do too.

If you would like to read more about my experiences with blogging, head on over to The Yellow Brick Road. From there, you can read through old blog posts, sift through free music resources, and even browse my TPT store.

Thank you again to Elizabeth for inviting me to write on her blog and share ideas with her readers and colleagues. If you have any questions about blogging, please don't hesitate to leave them in the comments. I would be happy to continue to share ideas with you!

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