It happened. My students found me. Even without the handful of conversations that tipped me off, I could tell by the sudden increase in blog traffic in the last few days. On normal “good” days, I range somewhere between 40 to 120 hits to my blog. Yesterday I received 450 hits. My internet presence has been discovered.
So excuse me for a minute while I speak directly to the crazy, exhausting, entertaining bunch of kids that have filled my days for the last five months.
You found me. It was only a matter of time. So, what do you think? Be nice – I haven’t issued final grades yet. 😛 Seriously, though, this is a more personal glimpse of my life than I give you in the classroom, so keep that in mind as you read. You see me as a teacher, and when I teach, it isn’t about me. It’s about you and your skills, needs, and growth. That’s my focus when I’m in the classroom with you. It always will be. But here I can be a little more vulnerable, a little more honest, a little more introspective. I’ve poured myself into this piece of the internet. I’m not asking you to like it. I’m not asking you to care. I’m just asking you to respect what it means to me.
I wondered when I took this new job two months ago if I’d be able to maintain my blog. After all, instead of just subbing, I now have to dedicate my time and attention to grading, lesson planning, and you know, teaching. I wondered if the added responsibilities would prevent me from taking the time to write.
It hasn’t. I’m still cranking out at least one post a week. Teaching full-time has given me new avenues of inspiration and a wealth of stories to share, and I still enjoy the mental process of putting my thoughts down in writing. It gives me a chance to reflect and focus, instead of getting caught up in the daily grind.
Something else has fallen by the wayside, though. I have noticed a definite shift in how I experience the blogging world. I have far less time for reading blogs, and I feel a little bad about that.
I’ve been blogging for over a year, but I’m still not used to this concept that my writing has an audience. What’s even more weird is that I can’t really pinpoint my audience. When I write a post, who am I writing to?
Sometimes I’m writing directly to teens. I know I have a lot of teenage followers and readers. Some of them are my most prolific “likers” and “commenters.” They take my words and participate with them, just like my students would in a classroom. I love this interaction. I thrive on it, just like I thrive on the give-and-take of real life teaching. Teenagers are at the heart of my professional passion, why I consider my career so much more than just a way to make money. In teenagers, I have an opportunity to make a difference, and that drives me more than anything else. So I write to the teens. I believe in them and their potential, intelligence, and strength. I know some will ignore my words, but some will read them, appreciate them, and maybe even learn something from them. I love that.
Keep reading to find out more!
As I began my blogging journey and browsed other people’s blogs, I noticed some pages proudly displaying awards. I was initially intrigued. Where did these awards come from? Who bestowed them, and what for? How could I “win” one? I was still in my initial exploration of WordPress phase, so I read up on them. I learned that these blog awards are informal, passed freely among the bloggers in a manner similar to chain letters or pyramid schemes. Some people called them just another method for generating link-backs and clicks. Others acknowledged that these awards did provide a form of positive feedback and formed a bond between individual bloggers.
My first blog award
For my non-blogging readers, here’s how the award system works:
1. A fellow blogger nominates you, and sends you a message letting you know.
2. If you want to accept the award and post that visual trophy on your blog, you must follow a set of rules first. These rules are remarkably reminiscent of the chain letters and survey e-mails of my teen years, but with a little recognition for a job-well-done tied up in the mix. Usually, they go something like this: Continue reading
Happy New Year! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I actually missed the moment when my little blog crossed that milestone. For some reason the usual, orange, oh-so-exciting notification didn’t pop up in the top right corner of my screen, so I didn’t see the transition from 49 to 50. Actually, I don’t remember going from 48 to 49, either. But there it is – on the far right of my screen. “Join 50 other followers”.
And I personally know only three of them! Most of my friends and family find my blog through my occasional facebook links instead, so 47 complete strangers have shown enough interest in what I have to say to click that “Follow” button. 47 people who don’t know me deliberately decided to join my journey. 47 teenagers, parents, fellow educators, and other interested writers participating in this world known as the blogging community are all engaging in the words and ideas of a nomadic teacher who wants to help prepare teens for life but doesn’t always know how. That’s so cool! Continue reading
We blog because we want to be seen.
All of us who have allowed our blogs to be public want to be read, understood, and connected. For some, this desire is strong and obvious. They view blogging as a networking tool, an opportunity to raise an audience. Others are more subtle. They write for themselves, processing their own thoughts and emotions as they type. But something still makes these people post that typing on the internet, for all the world to find, read, and critique. If it truly was writing just for the self, wouldn’t a Microsoft Word document be sufficient? But we want more. We want others to see and validate our thoughts and feelings. Or maybe to offer encouragement to others through our stories. Or receive feedback on an idea.
I didn’t realize how badly I wanted my blog to be seen until it disappeared from the Reader.
My first clue that something was wrong came from my stats. I used to get 20-30 hits when I posted a new article, and at least some of them would click the “Like” button. But that stopped. The only hits I’ve gotten lately come from random search engines, and they all hit old articles, not my new posts. My hits didn’t change at all when I posted a new article, and the only “Likes” were coming from those readers already following my blog. Continue reading