Over on Leadertalk, Reggie posts "To Blog or Not to Blog". She raises some interesting questions which the more I thought about, the more profound they became. At first, I was tempted to leave a response in the comment section and give six off-the-hip short answers...such as:
- If you currently have a blog for your school/district, are you glad you started it or has it become more work than you thought? Yes and yes.
- Do you get feedback on your blog or does it sometimes feel like you are talking just to yourself? Some of my best writing has only been met with my words coming back to me as faint echo and crickets chirping in the night.
- How much time do you think you spend a week writing on your blog? Do you try to do this during your work day or is it mostly from home? 2-3 hours, at home - usually in the wee hours...it depends on when and where my Muse finds me.
- Do you pay for the blog service or do you use a free one? You get what you pay for...
- What advice would you give to an administrator who is thinking about starting a blog? Don't write just to write - wait until you have something to say. And don't write for others...write for yourself...as a means of clarifying thoughts, expressing frustration, or just howling at the moon.
But, after some reflection, I wanted to offer a slightly more reflective response...
There are two primary reasons to blog: One is to disseminate information to others. The other is to express thoughts and opinions either of a personal or professional nature.
If you want a blog in order to set up a channel of communication between you and staff, students, parents, and community - go for it. It can be on your school's web-site and can be monitored by you in a way that only campus-relevant, family friendly, politically correct material is posted.
On the other hand, if you want to blog personal opinions, take issue with local political initiatives, and discuss anything of interest to you without having to self-censor, you need to proceed down a different path. Pay for a service with personal money, don't use your school computer, and be careful who you invite to visit it. And although there are First Amendment Right protections galore, beware of libel. And of course, while you may not give out the URL to anyone but trusted friends, remember, this IS the Internet and NOTHING stays private - or secret - for long. I try to always be honest and blunt in my personal posts on this site, but I always keep in the back of mind that I can never know who is reading it...from family, to students, to my bosses. It doesn't stop me from expressing opinions that sometimes provoke phone calls from peers and even supervisors, but it does prompt me to evaluate a conviction and believe I can support/defend it before I cast it out on the 'net.
One problem with blogging is finding your Muse. My Muse is fickle. She can toss ten great ideas at me in one sitting...and then she can wander off for days, leaving me with nothing to write about. Normally there's nothing wrong with this unless you have certain blogging deadlines, like I do for Leadertalk, Big Ideas, and The Faculty Room. Then the pressure is on. I have a deadline, or the editor asking for a post, and my flighty Muse has gone on a long walk-about. This is when things can get dangerous - because the worst thing you can do when blogging is to write when you have nothing to say.
The date of my last blog on this site was (in blog-o-think) light years ago. I know I lost readers. But my Muse took a longer vacation than I did, and when we're re-united, I'll start writing again.
My around-the-bush answer to Reggie then, is YES! BLOG!