The Blog As a Narrative

19 Jan

Earlier this week I was Facebook chatting with my friend Kim about her blog. Kim was struggling with a direction for her blog. A lot of people struggle with the same thing. Sometimes the struggle comes from not knowing what to right about while other times it comes from having too many things to write about. Either way I find that it helps to look at your entire blog as a narrative and each post as a part of that narrative.

Identify a narrative to focus your blog posts

If you have an identified narrative that you’re trying to convey through your blog, each post should work toward supporting that narrative. Once you start writing to support that narrative people come to expect (whether consciously or not)  that your posts will fit with that narrative. Some narratives are obvious. If you’re setting off to sail the world and blog about it, then you won’t have trouble picking a narrative to support with your posts. Other narratives aren’t quite so obvious and that’s where most of us are with our blogs.

The not-so-obvious narrative I try to keep in mind when posting on Free Technology for Teachers is that quick and practical implementation doesn’t have to be expensive or difficult. I format that part of the narrative with the “applications for education” section of almost every post. Over the years I’ve had many people point out that the “applications for education” section is why they continue to read my blog and share it.

Dan Meyer does a great job of supporting the narrative of changing the face of mathematics education. Every post that he writes works toward that goal. I’m not a math teacher, have never been one, and probably never will be one, yet Dan’s blog is fascinating to me because every post supports that narrative of doing mathematics instruction differently.

Think of each blog post as an opportunity to support the narrative of your blog.

You can alter the narrative.

Any good story has a number of plot turns. If it doesn’t then it’s probably one of the cheesy romantic comedies that you find buried in a list of suggestions on Netflix.

You can change the direction of your blog. In fact, if you don’t you might find yourself bored with it after a while. Free Technology for Teachers has changed some while still keeping the “applications for education.” When I started that blog iPads and Android tablets were three years from market. When it became clear that schools were going to be buying them I had to start incorporating those apps into my posts. In hindsight, I didn’t do it quick enough.

If you’ve followed Seth Godin’s work for as long as I have, you’ve probably noticed that he’s tweaked the narrative while still delivering ideas for being a better marketer and or leader. (I just wish he’d stay out of commenting about education where he’s often misguided).

Make your narrative helpful to others.

People generally subscribe to blogs for one of two reasons: to be entertained or to learn something that benefits them.When I look at my blog subscriptions (currently 250+) 90% of them are blogs that share things that can help me in some way. The other 10% are just for fun. I’m subscribed to zero navel-gazing, personal stories blogs. My guess is that your ratio of blog subscriptions is similar to mine.

If you’re writing to entertain, go for it! I wish I could write that kind of material.

The rest of us are blogging to inform in some way. If you’re writing a personal narrative blog, include elements that help people. You could help by explaining how you dealt with a difficult situation, help by giving advice on how to save money for a vacation, or help by offering ideas for using technology in school. The options are nearly endless.

What’s the narrative for your blog? If you’ve identified it, please share it in the comments. If you haven’t identified it, use the comment section to ask for help. I’ll do my best to help you flesh it out.

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  • reedteaches

    My on-again, off-again, hopefully-on-again-for-good blog is about my experience teaching in what we are calling “customized learning.” In my early posts, it seems I felt the need to defend/explain what we were doing (to whom I do not know). In the two posts I’ve made recently, I tackle some challenges we’ve faced and try to find solutions.

    • richardbyrne

      Thank you for sharing your experience.
      I think it is natural to sometimes feel like we have to “defend” ourselves while sharing. We’re putting our ideas “out there” for the world and it’s not always easy or even possible to predict what the reaction will be.
      I’m going to address this topic in more depth in a post that is scheduled for this coming Sunday.

  • iTeachTeachersTech

    I guess my narrative is stated in the title of my blog, iTeachTeachersTech. I want my blog to be a learning journey, if you will, of what I’m learning along the way. As I learn tools and strategies to make teaching with technology easier, that’s what I want to share. I appreciate your no-nonsense advice on schedules. Time and motivation seem to be my biggest hurdles. Right now, I’ve got the motivation, so I’m trying to make time. After leaving the blog for a LONG while, I’ve posted twice in the past two weeks. Whoo-hoo!