Could you be the next blogger for Teacher Toolkit?
I started blogging in 2001, and through a mixture of life-changing events, started writing content on Teacher Toolkit almost 10 years ago; my first ‘professional’ blog was over here on Blogger in 2010 (don’t laugh!). I found the platform very cumbersome, so I soon moved over to WordPress in 2012 and the website as you see it today has been hours and hours of tinkering and tweaking to make it look this good!
I still write once or twice a week, peak-time of course, but after writing 1,000+ blogs I took a risk and opened up Teacher Toolkit to other teachers in January 2017. I wanted to do this for two reasons.
1. Established Voice
Now that TT is an established website, I wanted to reduce my workload and start to use the platform more strategically. At one point we were sharing two posts per day, but this is a heavy workload on top of the day job and to ensure content remains high-quality, relevant and a resource to the community, there is a reason ‘less is more’ is a meaningful phrase. The site still offers one blog per day and by offering the website to other educators, Teacher Toolkit automatically becomes a collective voice for the profession. This means although I may not be writing every word on the site, I am proofreading everything before publication, protecting new teacher-writers from the literacy police and most of all, offering them a huge platform in which to be heard. Two writers now have book deals which I am very proud of.
Oh, and don’t worry, I still intend on blogging and offering opinion. Just more thoughtfully and not all of the time …
What I also know, is that very senior people in U.K. education read this site – people in very high places. I know because they tell me so and largely share views with me via Direct Message on Twitter. All very flattering, but to keep this engagement flowing, I have to ensure that I do not expose their views or break that trust. I also receive commentary from educators all over the world … I am still as passionate about writing and sharing ideas to better myself, and if it helps readers in other schools and classrooms, then it’s one teacher feeling less isolated which is why I started blogging …
As the website team grows into ‘more than just me’, we’ve been working hard on our values and vision. I’ve been spending a great deal of time and money on the website over the years to ensure it works and remains live. For example, just to keep this website ticking over, it costs £5,000+ per year to operate on a virtual server. I know this is small fry compared to large organisations, but it’s a significant investment for a humble one-man blogger.
Only three years ago TT was working on the ‘bog-standard £99 per year annual licence’ to use a WordPress.com site and have a unique website domain name. But, as the website has grown, imagine sharing one blogpost to over 200,000 followers in each Twitter/Facebook status update? That’s a big ‘surge’ of clicks to your website at any one time! It’s a great problem to have, but having these large social media audiences made the website break – lots of times! On top of this problem are all the social media tools I need to schedule updates – so that I can get on with living and working. This all costs too. Again, my choice and my problem, but one reason why you are probably reading this now whilst I sit back and have a coffee at the local park.
So, it’s taken years to develop the backbone of this site into a blog-come-professional website that you see today. And I haven’t done it alone. To ensure that there is no downtime (that means, to stop it from crashing!), money needed to be spent and extra support has been required from a small group of people. It was a decision I made in 2013/14 to start taking the website much more seriously after a huge spike in traffic.
What I have been surprised about, is how the website has reached all echelons of the education sector; from the Department for Education, OfSTED, think tanks and schools and school leaders, teachers and parents all over. Many blogs have flopped, but some have trended on social media, shaped policy and dialogue – even the start of national conferences – and over the years I’ve been unable to attend many of these events. The reach is beyond imaginable. However, at least for this academic year, I am enjoying visiting schools and speaking at some national conferences. This is a great opportunity for me to share my opinions with real context rather than written word.
Over time, because many ‘eyes and ears’ are reading grassroots opinion on this site, many companies have wanted their resources and logos on our site too. This was something I put off for years, but after some trial and error, it would fund the website and any technical support I needed. So, in 2013, I accepted my first sponsorship – to some degree of frustration from others – but I’d like to think, that having learnt from keeping this discrete in the initial phase, you can now find all the sponsored posts and social media adverts on my Twitter and Facebook pages all clearly marked and transparent with ‘#ads’ declared. I don’t see many other established website and school newspapers doing this, so I’d like to think I’m one of the early adopters. There’s nothing much different to bloggers accepting ‘WordPress ads’ on their humble blogs, right? I’m now just doing it on a larger scale as are thousands of other bloggers. I may just be one of the first U.K. education bloggers to do so.
Anyway, regardless of your views – the advertising income now funds the freelancer team, the website and occasionally, our bloggers to write content and produce resources.
We now have an established team and a core group of writers, with over 40 teachers from all sectors of the profession, although I’m certain there are gaps and voices still not heard. We even started our own anonymous account to allow teachers to post teaching secrets – without fear of retribution – to a wider audience. Our content is viewed by over 150,000 people each month and we have surpassed 6.5 million views and over 3.5 million visitors in over 200 countries!
Write for TT?
My long-term aim is to see Teacher Toolkit offer a platform of opinion and resources for teachers, but also parents with children who are at school, then gradually offering resources for students. So, do you want to be part of something special?
If you want to be part of our grand plans, then all you need to do is give TeacherToolkit a ‘shout out’ by clicking the image above, then send an email using this address.