Thursday, January 13, 2011

Can You Hear Me? -- Voice in Effective Blogs

I confess--I am a regular reader of the blog Zen Habits. I find the voice and the tone of its writer, Leo Babauta, distinctive and calming. On a typical school day, peace and tranquility are not typically around. But when a post shows up on Zen Habits, I take the time to read it and to find a window of calm in my day.

The post that I want to refer people to is effective in achieving the goals that Babauta states: he wants his readers to focus in on what they are doing, to savor that moment, and do that action with mindfulness. Such words are good reminders to teachers of all sorts. We need to be mindful of what we do, of how our actions shape and influence our colleagues and our students, and of how we learn and grow from what we do.

An effective post is exactly that—it creates in the reader an effect that the author wants. In the writer’s distinctive voice, the post encourages the reader to think, act, believe, or feel. It engages us to take something from the post and to find its relevance to our own lives.

The award winning blog posts of Frank Noschese and Joyce Valenza do the same sort of thing for teachers and librarians. They are trying to take us out of our usual realm of complacency and to catapult us into thinking and questioning about our practice. While they are both encouraging us to re-evaluate how we behave as teachers, they do so in voices that are strong and distinctively their own.

So what makes an effective blog post? Some are effective in their overt practicality, such as sharing useful links for teaching (Free Tech for Teachers, Larry Ferlazzo). Some share strategies or humor for a particular field (A Librarian’s Guide to Etiquette, Attempting Elegance). And some, like Zen Habits, work to make us feel our humanity.

In each of these blogs, the voice of the writer is clear and thoughtful. Before I shifted to being an elementary school librarian, I spent 20 years teaching college-level writing. And I can tell you that there is nothing more important to becoming a good writer than to find your own distinctive voice.

--Cross-posted to

(image by dbphotographs via Flickr Creative Commons)

1 comment:

Larry Ferlazzo said...

Thanks for the kind words!


My Grandmother Agnes