Blog-long (Flickr - Xioubin low)

How Blogging Changed Me – Reflections on the Blogging for Professional Development Webinar

Blogging and Professional Development was the title of the webinar led by Sandy Millin on May 21st as part of the British Council webinar series. This was actually the first webinar that I have been able to take part in and I wanted to take some time to reflect on what I learnt.

I really enjoyed the webinar despite the fact that my brain, fingers and keyboard couldn’t seem to work in unison. I did take two really good things away from this webinar though. The first was about a reader called Feedly and the second was a lot of great blog suggestions from all the participants.

Feedly was a great tip because I receieve a lot of e-mails from all the blogs that I subscribe to and although I value reading them, sometimes they drown out the e-mails that I receive from my other accounts.

Now I have Feedly set up, new posts are kept for 30 days. This means I can take my time reading the latest posts and with the app installed on my iPhone, I am able to browse through the blogs I follow on my morning commute. Everything is in one place and I don’t have to worry about losing great posts in a sea of e-mails.

As well as giving some great tips, Sandy also tried to answer some common questions that people might have. Here are just a few of them.

Why read blogs?

There were a lot of great blog suggestions during the webinar. I didn’t get a chance to copy all the links, but I am hoping that a list of them will be collated at a later date. I’m looking foward to having more great sources of material to read.

Sandy asked the participants why they read blogs. The most popular reason seemed to be ‘picking up new ideas.’

I’d have to agree with this as I have picked up lots of great ideas from reading other people’s blogs.

One example that comes to mind is when I read this blog post about designing houses out of paper by Carissa Peck, I created my own 3D house template, which has worked extremely well. Many thanks Carissa.

Another reason to read blogs is that you can become more aware of the ELT industry, and some of the issues that teachers face. A good example of this is TEFL equity advocates and the work they do to advocate equal job opportunities for both native and non-native English speaking teachers.

Why blog?

This was one of the questions that Sandy asked and it is something that I have thought about before. Back in January I wrote this post as part of the ‘What’s your Story?’ blog challenge that was hosted by Vicky Loras.

It took me a long time before I knew what to write for this blog challenge, until I realised that one of the biggest changes in my life was my blog. Now that I had an idea I started to write about the reasons why I started to blog, but I also wrote about how my blog changed me. I was partly inspired to start blogging by Sylvia Guinan’s post ‘30 reasons why your blog can make a difference.’

Back to the webinar though, Sandy also put forward several reasons for blogging, which included:

Reflection, Sharing materials with others, Keeping a portfolio of work, Making connections and networking with other teachers and bloggers, asking for help and finally carthasis. Taking a moment to express what you are really thinking.

I started blogging as way to internalise what I was learning. Blogging was supposed to be the outlet, so it came as a great surprise when my blog turned into the catalyst for new ideas. I wasn’t just blogging what I was learning, I was learning because I was blogging, and I took these new ideas back into the classroom with me.

I remember that I taught myself new aspects of Excel in order to create the Word Jumble template for my blog. I was then able to use these templates in the classroom. The template made making ‘Word Jumble’ materials a lot easier than before and I probably wouldn’t have made the template if it wasn’t for my blog.

What to write?

Sandy recommends several things you can write about:

The things that interest you, Introducing and sharing your material or ideas, or reflections on lessons – looking back on what worked and what didn’t. Other ideas included asking for help, responding to issues or questions raised on other blogs or responding to webinars.

Typically, my blog focuses on things that interest me and for sharing ideas. Occasionally though I will write the occaisonal opinion post, respond to another blog, and today I find myself writing about a webinar.

I think it is worth writing about a wide variety of things. I am one of the worst judges of what people want to read. A post I spend a week on may not be as popular as I think, but one I spend a short time writing on a Sunday evening might surprise me. In fact one of your most popular posts can be a completely different way of writing, for example I wrote this post as a response to a post by Anthony Ash. It was just my attempt to answer some questions that I thought Anthony had raised.

It just goes to show that it is difficult to predict what kind of blog post will become popular.

Another point that Sandy raised about writing blogs is that you shouldn’t feel the need to write weekly or to a schedule. You should write when you have something to say and when you want to. Forcing yourself to write can be counterproductive because you will become frustrated trying to think of new ideas, and the quality of your posts will drop. As a result, your readers may lose interest in your blog if they sense that you don’t have any interest in what you are writing. If you are not interested in it, why should the people who read your blog be?

I largely agree with Sandy, but still I do try to write something every week. In the early days of my blog, I tried to write on a certain day, but then my schedule changed and so did my obligations. Life definitely got in the way. I then tried to write on the weekend, but that’s not always possible, so I write when I can and where I can. Right now I am writing this on the train to work.

I do this not because I feel I need to, but it’s because I feel I have to. I feel I have to stay involved, because I am the kind of person that can change my focus easily. Drifting from hobby to hobby, learning one thing one week, to losing interest in it the next. There is no better example of this than when I started reading Moby Dick but decided I would take a short break from the book, promising myself that I would go back and finish it, despite the fact I lost interest in the story. That was over 10 years ago.

Now I haven’t lost interest in my blog, far from it, but I have found a routine helps me to focus on the things that matter.

I do agree with Sandy, don’t feel that you need to write every week, but I think you should listen to yourself. Write to suit your personality, whether it is free and sporadic or according to a routine.

How has blogging contributed to my professional development?

I suppose the only question left is how has blogging contributed to my professional development? Well, I learnt new things by reading other people’s blogs, I learnt new things because I wanted to develop ideas for my own blog. I have collaborated with other bloggers and I have become much more aware of the ELT industry and some of the issues that teachers face.

Would I go back to the days before I started tekhnologic? No. I wouldn’t want to give up something that has given me so much.

Do you blog? How has blogging contributed to your professional development? How has blogging changed you? Leave me a message in the comments if you want to share your experiences.

Alternatively you can send me a message on my Facebook page or on Twitter.

Finally, many thanks to Sandy Millin and the British Council for putting on the webinar. It was greatly appreciated.

Take Care!

Featured image taken from by xioubin low, used under Creative Commons License.

9 thoughts on “How Blogging Changed Me – Reflections on the Blogging for Professional Development Webinar

  1. Dear Tekhnologic,
    Thank you so much for coming to the webinar and for your reflections here – it’s always fascinating to see what people have taken away from a presentation. I think the advice about listening to yourself and having some kind of routine is useful – I’ll incorporate that if I do my webinar again!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Sandy,
      Thanks for taking the time to read this post.🙂
      I really enjoyed your webinar and I am glad if my ramblings can contribute in any small way.

      Hopefully I will be able to catch your next presentation! By the way, thanks for all the hard work you put into elt pics.


  2. Hi Tekhnologic,
    I liked this post especially because you added your own personal spin to some of the things Sandy said.
    I blog because I think it’s fun. I enjoy it. That’s probably what keeps me going actually, the fact that I enjoy it so much. I think it stems from the fact that I always wanted to be a writer or something along those lines (I am starting a creative writing course cause I think that may help me write better. This course will be a result of blogging).
    I am free to say whatever professional ELT related thoughts I have, but I also talk about other topics that are not ELT-ish as well. My blog is where I share my teaching experiences/ideas and also a place where I learn from the comments I read. I also learn a lot from other people’s blogs (like yours)
    I love blog challenges cause they are a way to connect. It’s also like a ‘think tank’ many teachers write about the same thing.
    I, like you, don’t really schedule blogging. I do blog a lot though, and I do try to have one post a week. I actually think I am a little blogging monster 😛
    So, yeah, that’s why I blog and how it has affected me.
    Joanna 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Joanna,

      Thank you for the kind words, and it was great reading about how blogging has changed you.😀 I think it is fantastic that blogging led you to start a creative writing course. Do you think that you will share some of the stories you write on your blog? I am sure there are plenty of people who would be interested in reading them.


      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hey T.
        I will defo do so, when I start in Sep. don’t know if I will be any good at it but no pain, no gain😀
        See you around.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Hello! This was a brilliant summary of Sandy’s talk, which I have been struggling to watch myself due to a bad internet connection in my flat. I was really interested to read your own personal spin on some of the points that Sandy raised, and have opened up about five other tabs to read your other posts that you linked to🙂
    I started blogging in the run-up to my CELTA course, which I finished three weeks ago here in Berlin, and I am constantly amazed at the response that my humble scribblings get from such busy and experienced people like Sandy and Joanna above ^ They, along with many other wonderful ELT bloggers, have been so helpful to me, and I just wouldn’t have had access to that connection if it weren’t for my blog.
    I am now one of your followers, and look forward to further posts🙂
    Thanks again,

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Rachel,

      Thanks for following my blog.🙂

      I have read a few of your posts and I have enjoyed reading them. It has been interesting to read how the training has helped you and I think what you have written will be valuable insights for teachers who are thinking about becoming trainers.

      I wish I had started blogging during my training so that I had something to look back on. Reflection is so helpful, especially if you get asked about what you learnt that you during your training.

      It’s great that you have already collected and articulated your thoughts.

      Thanks again for following my blog and I look forward to reading about how you are getting on with your new job.

      Take care!



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