Sunday, October 27, 2019

10 ways to treat yourself on a budget

This post contains affiliate links. All opinions are my own. Thanks for supporting TheCompelledEducator.com


Educators have the best but hardest job in the world. There are times when we need to treat ourselves, especially when we've had a rough day or week of emotionally charged situations, never-ending paperwork, a to-do list that is ever-growing, and email that keeps multiplying. 

I've found that there are many ways that I can relax and recharge during my down time, and I've also realized as I've gotten older just how important it is to treat ourselves. We need to honor our needs and recharge so that we can keep giving to others in our daily work. 

With two daughters in college and a husband who works on commission, money is tight some most of the time, and we live by a budget. We plan our weekly menu and shopping trips and we're frugal about our choices for entertainment and other household expenses. 

I've assembled a list of 10 ways to treat yourself on a budget. So if you find yourself with more month than money, I hope you'll try the ideas on this list.


1. READ, READ, READ

There's nothing like getting lost in a good book! Our school librarians are a wealth of knowledge about so many different genres, and they are experts when it comes to pairing up a person to a book. Try talking to your school or city librarian about your interests and they can help you find your next new favorite read! 



2. GO FOR A WALK (or run)

Walking is a simple and FREE way to improve your mental, emotional, and physical health. Even small amounts each day add up to short-term and long-term benefits. 



3. BURN A FAVORITE CANDLE

Chesapeake Bay Candle co-founder Mei Xu says, “With the rise of the new technologies our lives have become super organized. But we are not happier. We need to slow down and find time for ourselves. I wanted to design a home fragrance collection that helps people to achieve a state of balance and peace inside, so they can share their joy and energy with others."


One of my favorite candles is the "balance + harmony" candle by Chesapeake Bay. It's made from a natural soy wax blend and burns for about 50 hours. 


4. LISTEN TO A PODCAST

"We are the average of the five people we spend the most time with." Keeping that quote in mind, choose podcasts that are uplifting, encouraging, and positive. You may choose ones that are funny or intriguing... something to "lose" yourself and the worries from the day. 

My favorite uplifting, non-educational podcast for when I want to take a mental break from school life is Glambition Radio hosted by Ali Brown. I've been a huge fan of Ali's for a long time, and she interviews some really smart and talented women on her podcast. 

Related post Turn your car into a mobile university


5. DISCONNECT

In a world filled with Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat, it can be easy to get caught up in what others are doing. When we TREAT ourselves, we need to focus on ourselves and our well-being. It may be that you "declare" to disconnect from social media after a certain time of the day, or maybe you decide to be offline on certain days. Those are the days and times when we can and need to connect to those who are in our physical lives.




6. CHECK YOUR CITY CALENDAR FOR FREE EVENTS

Most cities publish an event calendar online, and lots of times there are free events for the public. These would be great for "Date Nights" or just for getting together with friends. I checked the one for our city, and found that upcoming free events include a yoga class, a speedreading class, an apple spirits tasting, and several workshops hosted by our local university. 


7. COLORING


"When coloring, we activate different areas of our two cerebral hemispheres, says psychologist Gloria Martínez Ayala. 'The action involves both logic, by which we color forms, and creativity, when mixing and matching colors. This incorporates the areas of the cerebral cortex involved in vision and fine motor skills [coordination necessary to make small, precise movements]. The relaxation that it provides lowers the activity of the amygdala, a basic part of our brain involved in controlling emotion that is affected by stress.' In simplest terms, coloring has a de-stressing effect because when we focus on a particular activity, we focus on it and not on our worries."   Source




8. WRITE

Writing in a journal is a way to bring stress relief. It's a good way to problem-solve, and to get feelings out around a specific situation or topic. A Gratitude Journal allows you to focus on resources that you do have and create a record of positive events that have occurred throughout your days. You can write in a simple notebook, or try one from Annie's Notebooks

9. DE-CLUTTER

I had heard of the book by Marie Kondo, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, when it was published a few years ago, but I never read it. Then, I watched the Netflix series, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, and I was hooked. 

I think the article from Good Housekeeping sums up Marie Kondo's decluttering method nicely:
     Because you're actively choosing items that spark joy, and discarding what doesn't, the intention of the KonMari method is to end up with a clutter-free home that is better able to bring more joy and prosperity to your life. While tidying, she encourages you to visualize the life you want to live — to be less stressed, for example — and what you need to get there. Anything that won't help on that journey isn't deserving of your space or you, she says.


10. TAKE A NAP

Not only can a mid-day nap reboot our minds and spirits, a new study shows that it may lower blood pressure. When you're feeling overly stressed, try catching a 15-20 minute nap to treat yourself!




Do you have a favorite way to treat yourself on a budget? Feel free to share in the comments below! 

Related post 20 ways to take care of yourself over the holidays




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Sunday, October 20, 2019

The easiest way to plan for social media posts


I read somewhere that 72% of parents are on social media. As an educator, I find that to be an incredible statistic and one that I want to use as I build trust, highlight our staff and students, and reinforce our school values and beliefs. 

Social media platforms are a terrific way to tell our schools' stories as we share the wonderful things that are happening in our four walls each day. 

I recently updated my downloadable workbook, How to Tell Your School's Story on Twitter, so I wanted to share a few tips in this post and provide a FREE post planner below for you to use as you start or continue your adventure in creating a positive brand for your school.


Where to start?

With so many social media platforms, it can be hard to decide where to start. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter... with so many platforms, it can be tempting to try to tell your school's story across all of them. Choose one and run with it. If you choose twitter, I encourage you to check out my workbook because it has step-by-step plans for how to get started, what and when to tweet, and how to create the necessary school hashtag. 


How often should I post?

At our school, I have two students who help me with social media posts. Our weekly goal is at least 7-10 non-athletic posts. (We do share posts about athletics each week, and we re-post the athletic posts from our athletic director each week.) 

The FREE Post Planner has two parts. The first page helps you with the "big picture." On it, you can note events, holidays, and other happenings in your school during a specific month. On the second page, you can make a note of the tweet for each school day during the month. 

You can share the pages with your administrative team, office staff, social media team, or other staff members and get input on what's happening across the school. If you have a central location for your staff such as a professional learning room, mail room, or teachers' lounge where you could duplicate the pages as whiteboards or bulletin boards, you could ask staff members to post to the boards as something comes up. 

A scheduling tool like Tweetdeck can be a huge help in celebrating and highlighting events and people throughout the month. 


Video as a storytelling tool

While you're planning your month of social media posts, plan for some of the posts to be videos. 

Got a guest speaker coming? How about a behind-the-scenes video as the parent-teacher organization sets up a fall carnival? What about the pep rally against your school's biggest rival? 

You can give voice to students and teachers, and showcase innovative practices in your building. 

**If you take a few short clips, you can choose which ones to use.


As you share the awesome work of your staff and students in your school, you can find more ideas and tips in my digital workbook. It's an instant download, and it's got reproducible worksheets for you to share with your teams.



I would love for you to tag me in a post about your school so I, too, can celebrate the work that's happening in your school! You can find me on twitter at @Jennifer_Hogan.















Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Treat your manager like a coach (Interview with Facebook VP and author, Julie Zhuo)


This post contains affiliate links. All opinions are my own. Thanks for supporting TheCompelledEducator.com

I today's post, you will get to read an excerpt from a podcast interview by Jenny Blake. On her PIVOT podcast, she interviewed Julie Zhuo, the VP of Product Design at Facebook and bestselling author of The Making of a Manager

I struggled with the title for this post. At first I thought about this... "Hey, new teachers - your principal is a coach not a judge." That led me to, "Hey, new principals - your superintendent is a coach not a judge."

Then it got real

Most leaders/managers (the good ones!) DO want to be coaches and not just judges. 

I understand that this may not be the case everywhere. 

What I do want to say is that if you are a leader/manager, the only thing you can control is you, and you can be that person who COACHES those who are on your team. 

AND, while we're on the subject of controlling what you can control, we can control how we treat our managers. 

So unless you KNOW that your leader/manager doesn't want you to be the best and that they don't want to be good leaders, let's take Jenny's advice to heart.



"The job of a manager is to be sure that the team has what it needs to be successful." 
- Julie Zhuo


This message is something that I want to share with our new teachers. I was visiting a classroom the other day, and the teacher (new to our school this year), got very nervous and even admitted it to his students while I was in the room.

When we meet this week, I will assure him that I see my role as one to support him and make sure he has what he needs to be successful. I'll also make certain that the other new teachers understand that I'm there to push their thinking, share feedback, and help them to be their very best. 

I would love to hear your thoughts about the excerpt below (from Jenny's podcast interview of Julie Zhou.) Does it speak to you? Can you relate? 


"You go through life, you go to school, you have this idea that your teachers and these people in positions of authority are often handing out judgments. You go and take a test and then you get an A, a B, a C... you get something that tells you, Was my work good enough?
And so, I think it's actually quite common. I know I certainly went into the workplace where I'm like, 'My manager is like that teacher, where they look at what I'm doing and they tell me if I get an A, or a B, or a C. And if I'm failing they fire me and if I get lots of A's then they promote me.' And that's the relationship, right?
So, I need to impress this person. I need to make sure that this person thinks I'm awesome all the time. If I'm really strugling, then maybe I shouldn't tell this person becuase then they might judge me to be less capable and I'm going to get a worse grade. 
I realized over time, especially as I also became a manager, that that is not the most productive way to view that relationship. In fact, if you think about it much more like a coach, your coach's job is to just help you be better or do your best, to give you feedback, and to push you with the goal of helping you achieve your best performance.  
That's a very different mentality than someone who's just judging you.
When you have that mentality of your manager as a coach, then you change a lot of your behaviors. Because the person you believe has your back and you believe is just helping you do your best... you want to tell them what your problems are. You want to talk to them openly about your hopes and dreams. You want to admit to them, 'Hey, this is something that's hard for me. Can we work on it together? Can you help me overcome this problem?' " 
You can read the show notes and listen to the full episode HERE.


Julie-Zhuo
Click HERE to order Julie's book from Amazon



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Monday, October 14, 2019

5 Canva hacks you need to know



Canva is an awesome resource for bloggers, teachers, and those of us who love to create our own graphics. I've got 5 hacks for you to save time and make your job easier. (Because we all need more time, right?!)

HACK #1


You can easily bring up a text box on your deisgn by using this keyboard shortcut. It's my favorite shortcut to share with you! 

Simply hit the "T" on the keyboard, and a text box will appear in your design. How easy is that??

HACK #2


This is another keyboard shortcut that allows you to duplicate a photo, graphic, or text in your design.

Once you place the text, graphic, or image in your design and size it to the desired size, make sure that it's selected (with a box around it.)  Simply press the "Alt" key and hold it down. While holding it down, use your mouse to drag a copy of the image/text/graphic where you need it. 

HACK #3


Need to move an element just a smidge and can't get it right by moving it with the mouse? This hack's for you!

Highlight the element, then use your arrow keys to move the element 1 pixel in all directions to get it to the location you need it. Want to move it left or right by 10 pixels? Hold down the Shift key and then use your left and/or right arrow keys to move it. 


HACK #4


Want to work on a design while it's large and see what it will look like when it's smaller (like on a mobile device)?

You can use Ctrl and the + key to zoom in. Use the Ctrl and the - key to zoom out. Easy peasy!

HACK #5


Did you know there's a secret code to bring up Canva's free elements? (Yes! I promise!)

Type this in the search box: "brand:BAAAAP7rQ8M". 
You can also type the secret code in the box, then type in a specific feature you're looking for (for example, if you're looking for squares, you can type "brand:BAAAAP7rQ8M square" in the search box and it will return the free square shapes for you.)


Now that you know the shortcuts, try them out and let me know how they work for you!




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Sunday, October 13, 2019

20 Powerful Community Building Ideas

This post contains affiliate links. All opinions are my own. Thanks for supporting TheCompelledEducator.com


To all the jeep drivers out there...

Powerful Community Building Ideas

Do you do this when you pass another jeep on the road?

When my husband first started driving his Jeep, he noticed that other drivers would wave or lift a couple of fingers as they passed him. He looked it up online and found that it’s a “thing” for drivers in jeeps to acknowledge each other when they pass on the road. He also found forums and thriving community devoted to Jeep owners. He was excited to be a part of this new group, and he always looks for other Jeeps on the road so that he can acknowledge them.

His reaction was a reminder to me that people want to be a part of something bigger than themselves. As educators, it’s important for us to create an environment where students and staff feel connected, important, and valued. 

In today’s post, I’ve gathered up 20 powerful community building ideas to share with you. Feel free to leave a comment and share yours!

In an article by Edutopia, they share 10 strategies and some of them take less than 5 minutes to do. Below, I’m sharing 3 from the article, one for each at the elementary, middle and high school levels.


Friendly Fridays

Elizabeth Peterson is a fourth grade teacher who created “Friendly Fridays” as a way for her students to lift each other up. “Peterson has her students write a friendly, anonymous note to a classmate, practice using positive self-talk, or use storytelling to give a peer a pep talk.”



Group Salutes

At the beginning or ending of class or an activity, this teacher-led activity is a quick way to build community. “The shared gesture can be physical—like a high five—or social—a teacher could ask students to express gratitude to their group members.”

Don’t think this is a powerful enough strategy? The NBA did some research on their teams and how many times the players touch each other early in the season - high fives, fist bumps, etc. The ones who did the most touching early in the season had the best records as the season progressed.


Rose and Thorn Check-in 

While it may seem that high school students don’t need “morning meetings,” the Rose and Thorn check-in is a quick way for teachers to gauge students’ moods, promote empathy, and understand that every voice matters.

How it works: At the beginning of class, the teacher and students share something positive (rose) and something negative (thorn). Students are allowed to “pass” on their turn, but every student is given the opportunity to be heard every day.



“When teachers deliberately foster a sense of belonging by greeting each student at the door of the class, they see ‘significant improvements in academic engaged time and reductions in disruptive behavior.’”  


Collaborative Classroom Norms and Expectations



Susan Norris, a Hoover High teacher, facilitates students in her classroom as they create class expectations and norms. 



By doing this, she encourages student voice and increases ownership of the expectations by the students.


Send a Welcome Letter 

Even before students step foot in the classroom, teachers can start to build community by making students feel welcome and reduce fears by letting them know what to expect in the classroom. (You can read about 7 more community-building strategies in the article on ThoughtCo.com)


Class Read-Alouds

There are a lot of books that can be used to build community in a classroom. There are two that I am recommending to be used for a read-aloud at ANY level. Yes, you read that right. Even at the high school level, a children's book can be a wonderful resource to build a culture of kindness. 


 One-Drop-Of-Kindness

My friend Jeff Kubiak wrote One Drop of Kindness. The story is about Gus, a one-time orphan, who believes that the only way to communicate is through hurtful words and actions. The town Gus lives in has a secret - and unlocking it, a ripple effect of kindness is felt throughout the town. 


 The-Invisible-Boy

The Invisible Boy is another story that can help to create a shared experience and a foundation for a sense of community in the classroom. The book is about a quiet student named Brian, who feels invisible at school until a new boy, Justin, "sees" Brian. From then on, Brian starts to feel less invisible and the other students begin to notice. It's a story about friendship, belonging, and the power of being "seen."

Here are some conversation starters and/or writing prompts:
  • What responsibility do we have to each other?
  • What actions can we do to help others feel like part of a community?
  • How can you reach out if you are hurting?


From the links and ideas above, you can find 20 ideas for building community in the classroom. What do you do at your school and/or in your classroom? I would love to hear from you in the comments below or reach out to me on twitter



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Tuesday, September 10, 2019

5 ways to start the school year strong

5-ways-to-start-the-school-year-strong

A new year is a time of reflection, goal setting, and new habits and practices. As the new school year begins to take shape, it’s time to get re-energized. Maybe you’re a new school leader who is looking for ideas to start the year off right, or perhaps you are a seasoned administrator who wants to keep the fire alive. 

Here are five leadership ideas to jump-start your year and lead to your best one yet.

1. Choose One Word for Your School Year


Perhaps you’ve heard of the #OneWord movement by Jon Gordon (@JonGordon11). It’s a reflective and deliberate activity to choose one word to shape your goals, decisions, and actions during the year. This school year, choose one word for yourself or your school, and let it drive your work throughout the year.

Schools have chosen words like kindness, equity, and relentless to serve as reminders of the work that they are doing and that needs to be done. When examining new and old practices, the word can serve as a lens of whether to start, continue, or stop certain practices. If you’re not ready to choose a word for your school, reflect on your personal areas of growth as well as your strengths and choose a word for yourself that will serve as a reminder and encouragement as you do the challenging work of being a school leader.

2. Join and Contribute to a Professional Learning Network (PLN)


When I was a teacher, there were 100 other people in the building who did what I did. There was always someone there whom I could go to with questions, ideas, and problems. When I became a school leader, there were only three other people in the building who did what I did, and we all had different areas of responsibility. I felt really alone and had a lot of questions. Fast forward to today and with the power of technology, it’s now easy to connect with other people in leadership positions across the globe.

Make this the year that you collaborate with other school leaders to support you on your leadership journey. Additionally, use these connections to uplift others and offer encouragement as well as a critical ear. Twitter and Voxer are two tech tools that make collaboration easy, and there are a plethora of positive school leaders there with whom you can connect. School leadership is hard. Thank goodness it doesn’t have to be a lonely journey!

3. Intentionally Celebrate Your Staff


When I was a young teacher, I didn’t want to reward my students for doing the things that were basic expectations, such as putting their names on their papers or turning their work in on time. As I got more experienced, and especially after I had children, I realized that praising my students for doing something I had asked them to do made them want to do more of it. I began to celebrate my students for the small and big accomplishments. Little did I know that it would create a more positive, productive, and fun environment.

Staff members also want to work in an environment that’s positive, productive, and fun. If you’re not the type to plan celebrations, enlist the help of someone who is and plan the celebrations together. Go ahead and put the celebrations on your calendar to ensure that they happen regularly during the year.

Read how we held a "signing day" to celebrate new teachers at our school.

4. Stay in Touch With Your Passions


Outside of being an educator, what are your passions? What stokes your creativity, pushes your boundaries, keeps you young, and leaves you feeling energized and alive? The job of a school leader can be all-consuming, and your school community needs you to be at your best. It’s not selfish to make time for your passions so that you can be your best self for others.

There are too many stories of leaders who burn out and leave the profession after a few years. To combat the weariness that can come as a result of the job, it’s important to commit to activities that will re-energize us and sustain us through the school year.

What if your passion is being an educator? Keep stoking the fire!

5. Join the #ObserveMe Movement


The Observe Me movement was created by Robert Kaplinsky (@RobertKaplinsky), who encouraged teachers to open their classrooms and invite their peers to come in and observe the teaching and learning that takes place. In some schools, teachers post signs outside their door that state the things on which they would like feedback. In others, teachers simply visit and take notes on ideas and strategies they want to take back and try in their own classrooms.

As an administrator, we can share our own professional learning goals and ask for feedback from our staff members. When we join this movement and ask for specific feedback, we are modeling vulnerability and continuous learning and growing. Let this be the year that you join the #ObserveMe movement.


This post first appeared on the NASSP blog: http://blog.nassp.org/2019/09/03/5-ways-to-jump-start-a-new-year/





Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Hey, school leaders... 5 hacks to get you out of your office

This post contains affiliate links. All opinions are my own. Thanks for supporting TheCompelledEducator.com

Finding time to visit classrooms is a challenge for many school leaders. It seems that there is always an email to answer, a person to meet with, or a situation to handle. It's important for school leaders to make time to get out of the office and into classrooms consistently.

It can be a challenge to make time, but it's not impossible. Some days will be better than others, and some days it may be a simple gesture of sticking your head in a teacher's classroom to ask, "Need anything?" 

I'm sharing 5 hacks for school leaders to use to get out of the office and into classrooms, hallways, lunchrooms, and other areas of the school. I would love for you to leave a comment below to share any other ideas you have. We are better together, and we can all learn from each other. 

1. Set your alarm on your phone



On the iphone, you can set a daily alarm for weekdays only and label it as a reminder to get out of the office. Try setting a morning alarm and an afternoon alarm, and start with the small, consistent goal of 2 times every. single. day.


2. Get out with your mobile desk


I love taking my standing desk out into the building. I can monitor hallways, keep up with email, visit with students and teachers, and easily move between classrooms. 

There's room for my Chromebook and two shelves for a notebook, pens, sticky notes, and my phone. They are usually around $70 on Amazon - not bad for this workhorse of a desk!


3. Set up a temporary desk in the building

If you're not ready to go office-less like my friend Carrie Jackson, consider setting up a temporary office in the cafeteria or in the library. Another idea is to set up a small table into the lobby or at the end of a hallway and use it as a place to work on email or other tasks that don't require privacy. 


4. Schedule classroom visits as appointments on your calendar

Just as you would schedule a doctor's visit as an appointment or make an appointment with a personal trainer, putting the classroom visits on your calendar helps you when planning other meeting times and a to-do list. By scheduling your visits, you shift your thinking from "finding time' to "making time." 


5. Commit to daily or weekly building walks with a colleague or student

Last year, we walked almost every Friday during 3rd period

Grab another administrator, an aspiring administrator, new teachers, or students and walk the building. "Walk and talks" are a great way to build relationships, and when you visit classrooms with other administrators, it's a learning opportunity for both of you as you debrief after the visit. 


Are there other hacks that you or your school administrator use(s) to get out of the office? Please share in the comments below!


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