Tuesday, December 31, 2019

The Compelled Educator: My 3 Words for 2020

My 3 words for 2020 by @Jennifer_Hogan #my3words

Reflection is such an important part of the learning process. There was a time in my life when I was all about speed and moving forward... getting to the next thing... checking it off... completing the next task. 

As I've gotten older and wiser, I've learned to focus on the balance of slowing down to go faster. I make it a priority to make time to reflect on what's been learned or how a skill was executed and what needs to be learned to be and do better.

December is a natural time for reflection for many of us. We reflect on our outgoing year as we plan for the new one. We ask ourselves: How did it go? How did I do? What did I learn and what do I need to learn? What do I need to do less of and what do I need to do more of? 

Each year since 2014, as I reflect I decide on three words to guide me through the next year. This is a practice I learned from Chris Brogan, and one that has proven to be beneficial to me both personally and professionally. 

Here's what Chris writes about choosing your three words:
Choose any three words you feel will guide you forward. I can tell you a few things about this:
  • Don’t make it a phrase. “Publish the book” is a terrible choice. “The” is wasted.
  • Try to make the words actionable. “Expand” is better than “bigger.”
  • The more utilitarian the word can be, the better. These words have to be your compass.
  • Stick with the 3 words all year. Every time I’ve changed one a month or two later, the year mucks up. I can’t explain it. But I can report it.
  • Years where I’ve tried “fancy” words with layers of meaning, I lost the thread. Use plain words, maybe.
  • BUT the words don’t have to mean anything to anyone but you. Don’t worry about explaining them.

My 3 words for 2019 were Practice, Execute, and Be

Practice is about doing the daily work and getting better at something, while Execute is about facing fears and "pushing the button." Both words were important to me in 2019, but the one that I am most pleased with is how I used Be to guide me throughout the year. 

From my blog post about Be:
It's about letting go of the need to achieve and filling the space with acceptance.  
It's about embracing peace and being fully present for myself and others.  
It's about having faith and love and knowing that I am who I am and that I am enough. 

There was a lot that I said "no" to in 2019, and in doing so I was able to say "yes" to other things. This was a huge lesson for me, and one that I will take into the new year and the rest of my life. At times, it was extremely hard, because my nature is to go-go-go and be action driven. While it may seem like a year of unproductivity (is that a word?), it was a year of inner work that I needed to do in order to go forward with strength, joy, and resolve.

"I'm learning to love the sound of my feet walking away from things that were not meant for me."  - Anonymous

As I reflect on the year I ask myself, "What has had the greatest impact and how can I do more to amplify that?" My mission is to encourage and empower others along their journeys, and I'm excited to do more of that in 2020. I've chosen three words as my guideposts for the year, and I'm excited to share them with you.

My 3 words for 2020 by @Jennifer_Hogan #my3words

In April of 2018, I turned 50 years old. I was feeling old, soft, and not at all like the college athlete I once was. I bought myself a birthday present; it was a diet template from RP Strength. I had seen the amazing transformations on Instagram and wanted to give it a shot. 

On the Monday after turning 50, I started the diet template and I followed it for 4 months and lost 15 pounds. It wasn't the weight loss that was my greatest accomplishment. The battle that was won was a mental one. It was sticking with something and seeing it through, even when it was challenging and emotionally draining. 

Once school started, I got off the diet plan a bit and working out got less consistent. Now here we are about a year later and I'm ready for a new challenge. On January 6, I'm going to start the #75hard challenge. It will require great consistency to complete it. 

Andy Frisella 75 Hard #75hard #75hardchallenge

For the challenge, you have to do 75 days straight. If you miss a day, cheat on a day, or don't fulfill the parameters of the challenge, you have to start over. I'm ready for a mental challenge that will also challenge me physically, and I'm planning to journal during the challenge so that I can reflect on my journey after the fact. 

You can check out Andy Frisella on Twitter or Instagram, and check out the hashtag #75hard on both social media channels. 

If you're doing this challenge already or want to start on January 6th with me, I would love to have the accountability partners! 

My 3 words for 2020 by @Jennifer_Hogan #my3words

The second word I've chosen for 2020 is Empower. As I reflected on 2019 and thought about what impact I want to have in 2020, my commitment is to be very intentional about my mission to empower others.  

How do I define "empowering others"? I want to help other people believe in themselves by encouraging and equipping them with what they need to be successful. I want to see potential in others, find the gap, and help them acquire what they need to reach their potential. By empowering others, I will give them an opportunity to lead and help them to advance. 

1. Those closest to us - family and friends
2. Those we work with - bosses, employees, and colleagues
3. Those we interact with in our daily lives - bankers, people in stores, stakeholders, and others 

I don't want to overlook any opportunity to make a person feel validated and important, and I will create opportunities to share my wisdom (from mistakes I've made and lessons I've learned) and help others to uncover their awesomeness. 

My 3 words for 2020 by @Jennifer_Hogan #my3words

The third word for 2020 is one that I've been working on for most of my adulthood. :-) Growing up, my parents didn't talk to us about money. In fact, I still don't know very much about investing and I'm just learning how to really BUDGET my money. While I've never been person to spend extravagantly or on luxury items, I'm in a place where I want to save as much money as possible for investments, emergencies, and retirement. 

I've been reading and following bloggers for a long time who write about frugal living and ways to create and stretch a budget. It's almost like a game I want to win or a treasure hunt to be solved, and I'm finding ways to decrease spending and increase income. I've been more like the person on the bench, though, enjoying the close-up view of the game, and now I'm ready to get IN the game. (Put me in coach!) I also recognize that my focus for 2020 on CONSISTENT will also be valuable in making budgeting successful in the new year!

I've been a fan of Dave Ramsey for a long time, but I could never make his envelope system work. Starting last week, I finally used the envelope system for groceries, and I plan to continue into the new year. Jordan Page is another person I learn from, and she explains her envelope system here. (Have you ever tried the envelope system?) 

I also found out about an awesome app called Ibotta. It's like having digital coupons on your phone. It's easy to use - you simply take a picture of your receipt after shopping and you get credit for the amount of the coupon. Once you reach $20, you can transfer the money into your PayPal account or redeem as gift cards. I use it every time I shop, and if you would like to try it you can use my referral code, FTNDMAB, or click HERE to sign up. 

I rarely clip coupons anymore (unless they're digital and matched on Southern Savers), but using the app and knowing exactly how much I'm saving allows me to put it away for the goals I've set for the year. 

If you have any suggestions on making a budget work, I would love to hear them! 

I hope these words have inspired you to create and share your own words for 2020. If so, please share them in the comments or on Twitter or Facebook

Past #My3Words Choices

2014 - Discipline. Intentional. Balance.

2015 - Rhythm. Bravery. Fitness.

2016 - Focus. Purpose. Do.

2017 - Pivot. Go. Grow.

2018 - Lift. Create. Relentless

2019 - Practice. Execute. Be.

My 3 words for 2020 by @Jennifer_Hogan #my3words

Monday, December 30, 2019

Top 10 Blog Posts of 2019 from The Compelled Educator


I always love doing a recap of the year on this blog.

I know many people don't like to look at data and numbers, but I'm a "science person," and I like charts and figures and numbers. 

So when the end of the calendar year approaches and I review the numbers for the posts from the year, I get a little giddy, even when I know that this post is usually one of the least favorite from the year. :-)

Without further ado... here are links to readers' favorite posts from 2019 along with excerpts from each post. 

10. Non-negotiables for schools - is JOY one of them?
A blog post by @Jennifer_Hogan at TheCompelledEducator.com #CompelledED
So recently while at a state leadership conference, I attended a session led by Carla Tantillo Philbert (@_coolclassroom) called "Strengthening Staff and Student Relationships via Social-Emotional Learning and Mindfulness."  I'm always looking for new ideas on how to increase my and other's abilities to connect with students. 

In the session, she talked about the non-negotiables at her school. She called them the no matter whats

At her school, it was a non-negotiable that adults wouldn't use eye rolls and that adults wouldn't say, "Shut up." While I think we can all agree that these are great reminders and that they shouldn't be used in a school, it got me to thinking about unwritten rules that we have for school staffs. At her school, it was known, it was discussed, and it was stated out loud. 

A blog post by @Jennifer_Hogan at TheCompelledEducator.com #CompelledED

More and more kids come to school with struggles - whether family dysfunction, hunger, mental health issues, stress, poverty, our some other unmet needs - and sometimes we as educators want to shoulder the burden for our students. It can be a heavy burden to bear, especially when we feel as we can't make a difference in a child's situation. 

I reminded our teachers that as we wrap up the holidays, it's important for them to take care of themselves, too. That means setting healthy boundaries, getting enough rest, making healthy food choices, exercising, saying no sometimes, and anything else that they know will help them to take care of themselves.

A blog post by @Jennifer_Hogan at TheCompelledEducator.com #CompelledED
When you apologize, you are opening the door to rebuild trust with another person. You are creating an opportunity for dialogue about restoration, and you are creating an opportunity to make amends. 

7. Leadership Lessons from Brene Brown

Leadership lessons from Brene Brown at TheCompelledEducator.com #CompelledED
While it can be very hard to do, it's important for leaders to connect with our own emotions as well as the emotions of those we lead. Brene describes Armored Leadership vs Daring Leadership, which consists of dichotomies such as "Being a knower and being right vs. Being a learner and getting it right" and "Rewarding exhaustion as a status symbol and attaching productivity to self-worth vs Modeling rest, play, and recovery."  

While fear will always be present when we rumble with vulnerability, our response to fear will determine our success as a leader.

A blog post by @Jennifer_Hogan at TheCompelledEducator.com #CompelledED
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. 

A blog post by @Jennifer_Hogan at TheCompelledEducator.com #CompelledED
I worked with a team of experienced teachers to create a new teacher orientation experience that would allow our new teachers to get to know each other, get to know me, and walk away with practical knowledge that they would need to have a smooth start to the school year. 

One of my favorite events this year was our "New Teacher Signing Day."

A blog post by @Jennifer_Hogan at TheCompelledEducator.com #CompelledED
You had to make 10 decisions before lunch, then after lunch you had 15 more to make before dinner. 

Have you been there? 

Educators frequently experience decision fatigue. There are literally hundreds of decisions that are made during a week, and decision fatigue is a real thing.

A blog post by @Jennifer_Hogan at TheCompelledEducator.com #CompelledED
Each morning, set your intention to THRIVE that day. It may seem harder than just surviving, and it may push you out of your comfort zone. If you are ready for a change, it will be "hard thing" that you will appreciate. Just remember to take it day by day, and even hour by hour. If you need help, feel free to reach out to me via Voxer or Twitter. 

A blog post by @Jennifer_Hogan at TheCompelledEducator.com #CompelledED
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.

A blog post by @Jennifer_Hogan at TheCompelledEducator.com #CompelledED
As we head into 2019, I intentionally choose 3 words each year to serve as guideposts throughout the year. (It's a practice I started in 2014, after learning about it from Chris Brogan.) 

The words help keep me "in my lane" and focused on the goals I want to achieve during the year. 

Does that mean I'm perfectly focused? Not by a long shot.

Did you have a favorite post from 2019? Feel free to leave me a comment or connect on twitter (@Jennifer_Hogan).

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Friday, December 6, 2019

How to say no politely

December can be a hard month for educators for many reasons. The semester is wrapping up and teachers feel the crunch of ensuring that they taught all standards and kept up with the state, district, and/or school curriculum. 

Also, it's a time that many emotions come to the surface for students and adults alike. Joy and hope are experienced by many, but it's also important to remember that there are some who feel great loss and helplessness around the holiday time. 

In a meeting recently with teachers who are new to our school this year, we had some great discussions about pedagogy, technology, positive relationships with students, and the future of school. 

In the meetings, I reminded our new teachers that being an educator is the hardest and best job in the world. 

More and more kids come to school with struggles - whether family dysfunction, hunger, mental health issues, stress, poverty, our some other unmet needs - and sometimes we as educators want to shoulder the burden for our students. It can be a heavy burden to bear, especially when we feel as we can't make a difference in a child's situation. 

I reminded our teachers that as we wrap up the holidays, it's important for them to take care of themselves, too. That means setting healthy boundaries, getting enough rest, making healthy food choices, exercising, saying no sometimes, and anything else that they know will help them to take care of themselves.

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How to say no

In our quarterly new teacher meetings, I try to model how to talk to students or explain how to use a classroom management strategy. Sometimes new teachers need to see and hear what a strategy will look like in action. 

While we're sitting around a table for these meetings and not in a classroom, I still want to make sure that our teachers are armed with the phrases that can be beneficial in their relationships with students and other staff members. 

In reflecting on our meeting, I realized that while I encouraged them to say no sometimes, I didn't provide a resource for them. Below you can see the graphic that I plan to send to them today. 

Is there a phrase that stands out to you or that you needed to read about today? Leave me a comment below or tag me on twitter, @Jennifer_Hogan. I would love to hear from you!

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.


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. 


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. 


"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


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.


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. 


"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


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


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.


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.