California Educator

December 2014

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Alice Mercer's blog Reflections on Teaching is often deeply personal and other times political or professional. It manages to be profound. In one post- ing, the sixth-grade teacher at Hubert Bancroft Elementary School shares conversations with her son, who is on the autism spectrum, on what it's like to be black like his father and face racism. In another, Mercer takes on Sac- ramento's "first couple," Mayor Kevin Johnson and his wife Michelle Rhee, who are charter school advocates. Other posts examine classroom life, lesson planning, best practices and the challenges of Common Core. With about 700 followers (some from India and Singapore), Mercer admits she is "bluntly honest" and blogging helps her get through difficult times. "It helps me reflect," she says of sharing her thoughts with the world. "We all have long, dark nights of the soul." BLOGGING ALLOWS ME TO… reflect on my teaching and get feedback from my peers. It allows me to share best practices and classroom tips. It allows me to be part of a solution because when I write about problems, I offer solutions. MY STRANGEST BLOG EXPERIENCE… was in the middle of a political battle and getting a comment on my blog about how rotten teachers are, and knowing who it was — a former student from a local high school. I wrote to that person and said, "I know who you are, and you have broken your teacher's heart." MY ADVICE FOR FUTURE BLOGGERS IS… set a schedule, whether it's every week or every other week. Be aware your words are public and you rep- resent teachers. Be professional. Check spelling and errors. If you write about students in your class, do so in a very general way so nobody is identified. You don't want parents asking, "Why are you writing about my child?" Alice Mercer, Sacramento City Teachers Association @ P H O T O B Y S C O T T B U S C H M A N If you're just starting out and not sure how comfortable you are in the Web publishing world just yet, go with a free service like, which will do most everything for you except write your posts. You'll need to create a Web address for your blog, pick your blog's theme design, and then get started writing. It really is that easy! FIVE BLOGGING MUSTS: • Be of value. • Find your niche and stick with it. • Display professionalism. • Keep confidential information con- fidential (especially important when blogging about students). • Keep it current. YOU'VE GOT YOUR BLOG STARTED Now that you are ready for the world to actually see it, you'll need to promote it. This is fairly easy to do because of social media. Create a Twitter account and tweet your posts using a hashtag (example: #education) that is related to your topic, so your tweet will be seen by a broader audience. Share your blog posts with your Facebook friends and ask them for feedback. The more your friends are invested in the success of your blog, the more likely they are to promote it for you to their friends. Always remember, this is social media. You'll also want to connect with other education bloggers, ask them for feedback, and share with their follow- ers, and you should do so in return as well. Starting a blog By Tiffany Hasker Check out 19 V O L U M E 1 9 I S S U E 5

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