Zhenya’s blog post called ‘Blogging Habits (1)‘ has been floating around my head since the beginning of January when she added it to her blog ‘Wednesday Seminars’; I am not alone in having my interest piqued. A number of bloggers left thoughtful and very personal comments on the post and quite a few decided to write about the topic on their own pages (Hana Tichá and Sandy Millin were among them).
The ramblings in my head have been about blogging habits as well as habits related to social media (mostly Twitter and Facebook). I have a love-hate relationship with both blogging and using social media. Let me explain.
Let’s first begin with the positive side. I love the way blogging, reading other people’s blogs and using social media make me feel connected to educators around the world. There are countless ways that these tools have affected me and my teaching but some examples of what I’ve gained are new perspectives on teaching methods, activities to try in class, applications and new technology, the reinforcement of or knocking down of my beliefs, the revision of strategies that I’d forgotten, confidence in my teaching and my blogging and a general sense of being a part of something bigger and greater.
Twitter is a huge part of the world of social media. I use it to stay connected with other teachers, read up on the latest news and pass on what I consider worth reading. I also think that the chats on twitter are one if its best features. I’ve participated in two chats (#eltchat and #eltchinwag), both of which I highly recommend. Lately I haven’t been able to participate as much but I hope to be able to join again sometime soon. The exchange of information and viewpoints on topics that are pertinent as well as interesting make these chats a source of motivation and inspiration, at least in my opinion.
Reading other people’s blogs and occasionally commenting on them is something else I really enjoy doing because I learn so much from them. At times I’m astounded by how well other bloggers express themselves and how prolific they are. It’s a humbling yet motivating experience.
The main purpose of my blog is my own personal growth as both a teacher and a writer. It’s heartening to see people comment and follow this space but the primary aim when I started was to improve my writing. Writing is probably my weakest skill. It takes me a long time to organize what I want to say and how I want to say it. I’m pretty certain that a lack of confidence in my writing is part of what makes this process so laborious so I figured that blogging would give me a chance to practice and help me build confidence. So far so good; I feel like I’ve come quite a long way in just under a year of blogging and it’s giving me the encouragement I need to keep going.
So now that we’ve seen all the wonderful benefits of blogging and using social media, let’s move on to the dark side. It pretty much boils down to the fact that the internet is extremely fast-paced as well as overwhelmingly full of information.
There are so many times that I start reading an article or a tweet which leads me to a blog which then has a link to a wonderful new application that I could definitely use in class. Oops! Did somebody say class? Wasn’t I supposed to be planning that class that I could use that new app for? And now I have to rush through my prep because I got distracted with all of the above.
I never seem to have enough time for everything I’d like to do: reading blogs, writing meaningful comments, keeping up with my own blog, tweeting, joining chats… The list is endless and for that reason I sometimes avoid twitter and the blogosphere all together. Why start reading or writing about something when I only really have time to scratch the surface?
I would love to have an endless amount of time to fully take advantage of blogging, tweeting and all the rest but life gets in the way. When I’m not teaching or preparing classes, there are lots of other things I like to do: spend time with my husband, read, go cycling, do yoga, watch TV or films and so on. Quite often I have to choose between blogging and cycling; the latter usually wins. There are times when I feel like I could invest more time and effort into the online world but I think finding a balance between work, hobbies and family life is really important. I’m not always very good at keeping that balance but I try.
In sum, I truly enjoy blogging and tweeting because they allow me to access loads of information and ideas. I also like the cozy, connected feeling they give me. The downside is that I don’t have nearly enough time to really take advantage of all there is out there to read and write about, which leads to frustration and even feelings of guilt. At times it’s a tightrope walk from dizzying heights and the best thing I can do is try to keep my balance.