Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Is time spent on social media worth the investment?

Sharing positive messages on social media about education is something I'm very passionate about. There are so many public perceptions about education that are negative and very wrong about what we do in our buildings, and if we keep quiet, there are limited positive messages out there to help shape or change perceptions. 

I recently sent out a tweet asking educators on twitter how they will continue - or start - to share their stories on social media during the new school year. 

I continue to be impressed and inspired by the educators on twitter who step onto the battlefield and fight the generally negative perception of education by sharing the awesome things that students and staff are doing across this country each year. 

In addition to sharing positive messages about education and potentially diluting the number of negative messages out there, another side effect to doing this. YOU will be happier. I promise. 

By focusing on the good in others, it brings a positive vibe to all that you do and share. You start to see and highlight the small things as well as the big things, and we know that an educator's school year is filled with many small, consistent, positive interactions that create an amazing experience for their students and colleagues. 

No matter what our challenges are, there will be something positive in each day that will bring joy. We have to look for it and celebrate it.  It DOES take time to create a twitter account. It DOES take time to tweet each day. It DOES take time to see the good in others. All of the time added up is minuscule when compared to the positive contribution you will make to your school's culture, other's lives, and your own life.

If you need ideas on how to tell your school's story, check out my digital workbook. It's full of practical tips and planning worksheets to help you make this school year one of the BEST. Let's challenge ourselves to answer the question, "What if every educator sent out 1 tweet per day of something positive in their school?"

"When you choose to see the good in others, you end up finding the good in yourself."

Friday, July 21, 2017

13 blogging basics every blogger should know about

Do you ever have time in your life where different experiences seem to converge and create either a need or a solution? I have experienced this over the past few days and thought I would turn it into a blog post in case it could help others.

First event:
Recently, I posted what turned out to be a very popular post on how to host your own blog images without using a third party host. The blog post got a large number of views, and I got several DMs, text messages, and Voxes thanking me and asking for more help with blog images. 

Second event:
At the end of the school year, I asked if there were any teachers who would like to join a different sort of PLC for the 2017-18 school year, called the Innovative Teaching and Learning PLC (ITLPLC for short.) We have been doing a book study on Voxer this summer of George Couros' book The Innovator's Mindset (which has been awesome!) In Chapter 11, George asks the following Quesiton for Discussion: How are you actively sharing your learning with your school and global community? Several of the teachers in the Voxer group stated that they wanted to be more reflective and wanted to share their learning to a greater capacity. They also shared that they were afraid that they didn't have time to blog.

Third event:
Two different people who follow me on twitter have asked for consulting help with their blogs. They are at two different places with their blogging journey (as we all are), where one is just starting and one is at a standstill and wants help staying on track and committed. 

These events lead me to this blog post. I wanted to share some Blogging Basics. There is no magic sauce. Other people may have different ideas. Here's what I've found has worked in my 8 years of blogging.

1. Don't compare your blog or your journey to anyone else out there. You and your story are unique and should be shared and not compared. 

2. Make time to learn each day. While you will be blogging about things that you are passionate about and are knowledgeable about, the technical side of blogging will require you to Do the Work and learn something new almost each and every day. You will be uncomfortable, it will take time, and it will be rewarding.

3. Blog regularly. Whether it's once a week or several times a week, your readers will want to see regular posts from you.

4. Forgive yourself when you don't post. It happens to most bloggers, and it will probably happen to you. Give yourself permission to take a break, but make sure the "breaks" don't happen too frequently. 

5. Put your social profile links on your blog. Either use social media buttons or post your links on a Contact or About Me page.

6. Learn how to schedule posts ahead of time. You can write several posts at once and schedule them to go out at specific times. 

7. Use an online photo editor like Canva or Picmonkey to create graphics for your blog. Take your own photos or use free stock images to create eye-catching graphics. Use at least one image per blog post. 

8. Actively engage on twitter. Share links to your blog posts; include graphics from your post or that are relative to your post.  

9. Have an About Me page and a Contact page.

10. Include links to previous posts in your blog posts.

11. Leave comments on other people's blog posts and respond to each comment left on your blog. 

12. Use white space and readable typeface. Readers want to get through content fast. Try chunking content and leave a blank line between paragraphs. Make sure your fonts aren't too curly or hard to read. Avoid cluttered backgrounds and designs so that the readers' eyes can focus on the important part of your blog - your content. 

13. Keep a blog idea list. This can be done indifferent apps on your computer or phone or it can be as simple as written in a notebook or planner. Do whatever works best for you. Sometimes I start blog posts with titles only and keep them in draft mode until I can go back and expand on the topic.  

What would you add to this list? Leave me a comment below (and I will be sure to respond!) 

Pin this image so that you can refer to this post later.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

How to host your own blog images

Recently, I had an overnight hospital stay for some planned surgery. I knew that coming home I would have some down time away from work, and I had planned to write some blog posts as well as do some maintenance on my blog. 

Imagine my surprise when I checked my blog last week and saw the following image several times in the right-hand margin of my blog! 

I went straight to Google to see if this was a common issue, and it turns out that it is. Photobucket, a photo-hosting site, without warning, changed its policies and limited third-party hosting to only paying customers. I almost fell out when I saw the price... $400!

Now, photobucket has(had) a great thing going. With as many customers as photobucket has, they could have charged us a reasonable amount and we would have accepted it and paid it. Unfortunately for them, there are a ton of comments across the Internet of people who feel like I do - that it is a ridiculous amount and they will find another option for image hosting.

I immediately turned to help from the Xomisse website. I found a blog post with instructions on how to host images on my own blog and not have to use a third-party site like Photobucket. 

(To see the instructions from Xomisse for Blogger and Wordpress, click HERE).

My instructions are for blogger, since that is the platform that I use for The Compelled Educator. 

First, open a new post, and title it "Images for Blog." You are NOT going to publish this post. You will only save it and close it, leaving it in draft mode. 

In the picture above, you can see that I uploaded new images for social media buttons as well as our Compelled Tribe badge. 
Above, you can see the HTML code of the images that I have uploaded. If you are only uploading an image and not linking it to anything, you can highlight the code in YELLOW and paste into an html widget in your blog layout. Hint: Look for the second set of triangular brackets and copy the brackets and everything in them.

The href just prior to the image code will link the image to another "location." (See green highlighted text above.) 

For example, the social media icon containing the envelope will take blog readers to my email address. To do the same on your blog, use the following code just prior to the code for your social media icon. 

<a href="mailto:thecompellededucator@gmail.com">

You need to change the text in red above to YOUR email address. 

For twitter, facebook, pinterest, etc... just change the text in the quotation marks (above) to the web address of each.

Pin the image below to try later on your own blog. Feel free to contact me if you need help!