Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
If you are a blogger or are on Twitter chances are you have heard about the list of bloggers compiled by Andrew Old. He has been asking people to fill in their details (such as Twitter handle, subject, sector, etc). During the holidays he has set a daily challenge to fill out 30 details which are changed every day. Yesterday’s challenge was to fill any 30 boxes but the most popular options in each category would not count towards your total. Amongst these popular ones were male and secondary. I did manage to complete the challenge but asked on twitter why there were so many male, secondary bloggers as that meant it took me a long time to complete the challenge. This led to a discussion on Twitter, first about why men outnumber women and then about why there weren’t many governors who blogged. There were various theories put forward for both; women had less free time as do governors who are volunteers holding down day jobs and that governors may come across issues which due to their confidential nature cannot be talked about outside the board room. Some thought that governors may not like social media or do not read and reflect and therefore do not take up the pen. This discussion made me think that I should write about blogging. (Thank you, Penny Rabiger, Steve Penny, Jane Owens and Raj Unsworth for the discussion).
- Blogging is a powerful means of getting your ideas out to a wider audience.
- You can use blogs to highlight issues which may interest other governors (for example, I had asked Ofsted to clarify what they expected governors to do during a school monitoring visit. I published the response I received on my blog which meant that governors who follow my blog were able to read Ofsted’s response).
- Blogging can be a means of sharing good practice (for example how to carry out monitoring visits).
- Blogging can be a means of starting a debate (for example should the Board impose sanctions on governors breaking school rules).
- Blogging can make you reflect on your own practice.
- You can use certain times of the year (your blog anniversary, New Year) to look back and celebrate your achievements or examine why you didn’t accomplish all that you had hoped to and then work out what to do next (#Nurture 14/15 )are an example of such reflective posts).
- Blogs can be used to collate information. Clerk to Governors is the best example of such a blog.
- You can use it to compile resources. I, for example, have been collecting questions governors have been asked during Ofsted inspections.
- I use my blog to “store or file” important documents (I have the links to Governors Guide to the Law and the various versions of the Handbook saved on my blog. My last post contained links to many documents published in 2014). This saves me time when I need to look up something.
- You may find posts on other blogs which are of interest to you. These can then be re-blogged on your site bringing them to the attention of people who follow your blog
- I have used blogs to write about conferences I have attended. This serves two proposes. It becomes a permanent record of what I found interesting which I can go back to. This also means that people who could not attend the conference in person can read about it on my blog.
- If you are writing a thesis, article, book or preparing a speech, then blogging can be a means of “road testing” your ideas.
- Sometimes, while discussing something on Twitter, you are constrained by the fact that you can use 140 characters only. Following the Twitter discussion with a blog is one way of getting your point of view across fully.
What stops people blogging?
- Some people may feel they don’t have enough free time to blog. I feel that if you feel strongly about blogging then you can find time to do so. Educational bloggers, for example, are all holding down jobs but do manage to blog.
- Lack of confidence may stop some people. Like anything else you may do, confidence comes with time. If you have someone who can read your drafts and give you feedback, that may be one way of building up confidence. Blogs are not books or academic theses and therefore are easier to write.
- Thinking you have nothing to say, or nothing interesting to say may stop some people too. Everyone has something to say!
- Governors, for example, may feel that governance issues are confidential issues and therefore they don’t feel they can blog about these. Of course, confidential issues must never be blogged about but that is not what I’m saying you should do. You can write about these in such a way that confidentiality isn’t breached. For example, if your board has an issue with the Chair becoming too “cosy” with the head, you can blog about qualities of a good chair and highlight that a good chair will maintain a professional relationship with the head. As long as you don’t indentify the people involved you will be ok. If you feel unable to talk about the issues even in general terms then there is still a great deal which needs to be discussed; Ofsted’s expectations of governance; are they real or not, for example.
Some people would like to start blogging but don’t know how. Read on, help is at hand!
A (short, simple) guide to blogging
- Think about what you would like to write about. You can read blogs written by other governors here to get an idea of what other governors are writing about. Try to find something you feel passionate about which perhaps is not already being covered.
- Choose a name for your blog. Have a look at the list compiled by Andrew Old and try to steer clear of common names. (I didn’t know Andrew when I started or I may have chosen something other than Matters!).
- While there are many blogging platforms, I prefer WordPress. There is a free option so you don’t have to pay to start a blog. Go to the WordPress site and set up your blog. You will need a valid email address before you can set this up. I won’t go through all the steps here but feel free to get in touch (or ask on Twitter) if you need any help.You can remain anonymous if that’s what you prefer to do.
- If you are on Twitter and/or Facebook, then link your blog to these sites. This way whenever you publish a post it will be publicised on Twitter and Facebook.
- Write as much as you can about yourself (unless you are blogging anonymously of course). People who will read your blogs would like to find out a bit more about you.
- Blog posts should not be too long as people either don’t read them or give up half way. 1000-1500 words is about right.
- Once you have published your post do tweet about it. If you are a member of a group on any other social media platform, then post a link to your post there too. Promoting your posts is a completely acceptable way of increasing traffic to your blog.
- Ending the post with a question may encourage people to comment on your blog. If people comment on your blog then do engage with them. You can set your blog up so that comments will need to be approved by you before they are published.
As you can see, blogging isn’t difficult and there are many benefits to be had. So, let’s get some more governors blogging! Have I inspired anyone to take the plunge?
PS If you are a blogger who is listed on Andrew’s list, please check if your details are correct. Details of how to do that are here.
PPS As I was writing this I saw a tweet about another post on blogging. This means that, like buses, two posts on benefits of blogging have arrived at about the same time!