Wow! I’ve checked the blog stats and I’m astonished to see that I have notched up 500 blog posts. This is Blog 500 – which is a bit meta because it’s a not much more than a blog about being the 500th blog post.
Except, it gives me a chance to reflect on the whole thing – of having a blog; of being a blogger – and to say a few thank yous.
A reminder of where it started: May 2012; an Essex Heads’ event where Alan November was talking about getting students involved with social media and blogging. I was sitting with Vic Goddard. He was dead famous after Educating Essex with a zillion followers on twitter already! I wanted to see what it was all about – so I thought I would try it.
WordPress account at the ready, here was my first blog post – me in my kitchen, weirdly in reverse. An inauspicious beginning.
Then I started writing things and an early post was this article about I felt arriving at KEGS, the grammar school I worked in. It’s interesting for noting how the ASCL magazine had rejected me and for the reference to the rainforest and plantation – a metaphor that I’ve now turned into a whole book. From Comp to Grammar; Plantation to Rainforest.
And it grew from there…. every few days, on average, I write something and, miraculously, people seem to read it. Only today I met someone high up at Ofsted who said, ‘I read the blogs’ – meaning, when I write about Ofsted, they read it. Gulp! I’d better be nice.
My blog has notched up 3.4 million views since I started – mind-boggling. Normally it’s about 2000 views or more a day. Here’s a list of the blogs with the biggest reach – all the ones above 20K views, to give a flavour of the topics that resonate:
I’ve found that there are three types of blogs that people read the most: blogs that are personal, written with authentic emotion, passion or anger; blogs that deal with the nitty-gritty down-and-dirty details of what teachers deal with every day – behaviour, marking, differentiation, workload…. And Ofsted.
And then there’s the lists. This something I’ve discussed with Ross McGill (aka @teachertoolkit – as I like to remind him, I used to be his boss!). People love a list. The 10 strategies for X or 12 ways to do Y are clickbait deluxe! Sad but true. 10 low impact strategies to do less of or stop altogether broke my records last December with 30K views over a weekend. It struck a chord towards the end of a long hard term. I’ve also had lots of hits for blogs that link to other blogs -like the Pedagogy Postcards all in one place. People like life made simple.
I am constantly blown away by the feedback I get for writing about teaching; our humble but vital profession. It’s good to know that blogs help people to think, to push ideas through, to get some perspective or to develop new ideas. I’ve had to make a few blogs private – some very intimate, raw blogs written last year when I was all over the place. They served their purpose but they now need to be for my eyes only; it’s not always healthy to put your honesty on show.
Perhaps the best bit about about blogging is the opportunity to engage with so many other people. It feels like being part of a community – and I love that. The Bloggers.
I’m indebted to a few people for getting me on the road: David Didau, The Learning Spy, was my original inspiration for writing about education. A mighty force that I’m still in awe of. Then where was Chris Waugh (@edutronic_net), a deeply principled teacher who engaged with me via my blog and made we feel that my ideas had some resonance in the ether. And then came Alex Quigley – we’ve been writing and blogging more or less in parallel since we started in 2012. And then John Tomsett – my hero blogger soul mate. We met just after we both posted blogs about our Dads on the same morning. Blogging has led to beautiful friendships.
Now, I’m continually inspired by bloggers who share there ideas and feelings – it’s a constant joy. Debra Kidd, Summer Turner, Jo Morgan, Jill Berry, Ben Newmark, Michael Fordham…… endless list
Just today I read this http://www.ollielovell.com/pedagogy/johnsweller/ by Ollie Lovell based on his interview with John Sweller. It’s so interesting. It’s one of so many blogs that are so helpful in keeping debate alive and well in the edusphere.
And how about this for a classic example of blogging at its best, a collection of blogs gathered under the heading #aflinscience featuring Ros Walker, Niki Kaiser, Adam Boxer, Deep Ghataura and Ben Rogers.
So – thanks so much to everyone who has read any of my posts. I wonder if I’ll make it to 1000. Maybe eventually. But only if you keep reading. Thanks again. It means a lot to me.