Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Top Notch Teaching has Launched

The day has finally arrived, the launch of my new blog.  I have been so excited!  My goal today was to try and create as much ‘buzz’ as possible.  So I have been diligently hitting all of my networks to encourage people to come on over and take a look.  If you haven’t done so yet, then please come over to Top Notch Teaching and let me know what you think!

I must say that I don’t think I would have been able to get this all up and running, if it wasn’t for the support and encouragement of my family, particularly Stevie and my Mum.  I know that Stephen has probably been hoping for this day for a while, so that I’ll stop asking him questions :-D.

I’ve also been enrolled in a course by a guy called CorbettBarr.  I read his blog ‘Think Traffic’ and get lots of good ideas about blogging.  Earlier this year, he launched a new course called How to Start a Blog That Matters.  I know that if I hadn’t enrolled in this course, I probably would never have gotten this far.  If anyone out there is thinking about starting up a blog, I would highly recommend this resource.  He provides weekly lessons, with easy to follow checklists to help keep you on track.  I was pretty chuffed today when I realised he tweeted about my launch!!!

So some more stats for you, I now have 87 followers on Twitter and 17 people like my Facebook page.  I also have 2 people subscribed to my updates.   I’m happy with these numbers and am interested to see how I progress over the coming weeks.

Friday, 9 March 2012

Quick trip to Melbourne

Well I’m sitting in my hotel room writing this blog post.  I’m in Melbourne staying at the Rendezvous Hotel.  I’ve been flown here by my work for a meeting and have planned to stay for an extra day to do some shopping and catch up with my Grandma.

But, low and behold, I have caught a dreaded cold.  I woke up this morning with the body aches and my ears are still all blocked from the flight in.  I managed to do a little shopping this afternoon, but just found it too exhausting so now I’m resting in my room.

Things are motoring along nicely with my new blog.  It’s not long now until launch day and I’m working hard trying to get everything done that I wanted to have done before this day.

I’ve been hitting the social network scene.  I’m actually finding Twitter really addictive and am being acquainted with many new ideas and resources that I was unaware of.  I’ve now connected with quite a few people and have over 50 people following me.  I really need to work on getting my Facebook page going a bit more now.

I’ve been thinking back to last year when I first started this blog and to where I am now.  I’m pretty happy with how things are progressing and I feel like I’m doing what I really want to be doing.  I had a friend say to me the other day, “you must be following your passion because you’re spending so much time on your blog and not getting paid!” 

All of my spare time is going in to developing Top NotchTeaching.  It’s the first thing I think about in the morning, and it’s the last thing I think about in the evening.  I wonder if getting so into this will last?

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Top Notch Teaching begins to take shape

Well it’s been a busy couple of weeks, not only am I super busy at work and with spending time with Emily and Stephen, but I’m also madly trying to set up my new blog.  I have so much to do and so little time!

But instead of complaining ;-P I thought I would share with you some of the things I’ve been working on in the past couple of weeks.

I have been learning how to use Paint Shop Pro (this is similar to Photoshop), which has been a pretty steep learning curve.  I didn’t really know too much about layers and vectors and rasters, but have slowly bumbled my way through. 

I have wanted to know how to use a product such as this to help with my drawings.  All of the lessons, posters and worksheets I design as part of Top Notch Teaching (TnT) I want to add my own graphics, rather than using Clipart or mass produced graphics.  So I have been playing around with a hand drawn picture, and then adding the colour etc in Paint Shop Pro (PSP).  I’m not really having too much luck yet though!

I have however used PSP to make a very simple banner for my new blog (see below).  It’s nothing flash, but I thought I would go for the clean, simple look.  I also designed a welcome landing page for my TnT Facebook account.  Again, it’s quite basic but gives people an idea as to what I’m all about. 


Facebook Landing Page

So if you’re interested in education and/or teaching then please follow me J.  You can follow TnT on Facebook here and Twitter here.  I’m also more than happy if you want to share these links with any other people you think may be interested.

It’s only 29 days until TnT launches.  I have a countdown clock at the web address: http://topnotchteaching.com, with links to my Twitter and Facebook accounts.  However, you may be wondering; ‘why on earth would I be interested in following Top Notch Teaching’?  Well.....

Because Top-Notch Teaching will provide you with practical, time saving tips and resources so that you feel inspired, empowered and willing to build a richer learning environment, thus making a better classroom.  

Because Top Notch Teaching will:
  • Write about being a reflective teacher;
  • Write about the importance of developing planning skills;
  • Share lesson ideas and lesson plans;
  • Delve into the various teaching strategies that teachers use and how these can be practically implemented in the classroom; and
  • Explore management skills.
If you have any other ideas about what you think would be good to include, please feel free to share.

If you want to see what my goals are for the next fortnight, then check out my Accountability Journal.

Monday, 13 February 2012

Photo Shoot

I decided that as I will now have an online presence through my blog etc, I needed to also have a better picture of myself.  I looked through all of my photos and couldn’t quite find what I was after.  So I arranged a bit of a photo shoot with my sis Shells over the weekend.

This was pretty good fun, and little Em also had a ball.  She loves getting her picture taken and as I posed for shots she did as well.  So below I have the best couple of pics Shells got of me that I will use and also some of Em, cause I think they’re sooo cute J.

This one is okay, but looks a bit formal!

I like this one better, looks a little less formal with the greenery! Although Stephen thinks I've got a cheesy grin :-)

Maybe not...

She loves wearing her Dad's shoes!

Sunday, 5 February 2012

It’s so exciting…..I have a name!

Well at long last, after much procrastinating and being indecisive with my new blog name, I have finally settled on one that I really like.  It’s funny how you can play around with so many different names and be unsure, but when the ‘one’ comes along you just know it’s a good fit.  So introducing:

‘Top Notch Teaching’.  I have bought the domain name and have a web host.  So if you type in http://topnotchteaching.com/ you will find my new blog!  I’m so daggy as this was just so exciting for me ;-)

I didn’t actually come up with the name myself.  I follow a blog called ‘Passive Panda’ and in the last week they wrote a post about coming up with the perfect name for your business.  It was really good timing for me, as I have been struggling with this for quite some time.  After reading through all of the suggestions and playing around with a few different options, I decided to leave a comment to see if anyone reading could help.  James Clear, the author of the article wrote back with a few suggestions, one of them being my name.  As soon as I heard it I knew it was just right!  If you want to check out the post or my comment and the reply, click here.

I still have no tagline.  I’ve had a few people suggest some different options, but I’m not really sold on them yet.  Stephen thinks that I should try not to be too clever and go for something that is a little more descriptive. When searching, the tagline will come up with the name and it will describe what the site is about and hopefully encourage people to click through J. 

Possible taglines that have been suggested so far include;

- Top teaching tips for the truly awesome teacher
- Teacher's tools a notch above the rest
- Top notch tools of the trade
- Tools of the trade for any teacher
- Total tool packages for the top teacher
- Online tools to support your teaching
- Online tools for tip top teaching
- Burst to the top of the teaching ranks!
- Dynamite teaching tips (so good, they're almost dangerous.)

Do you like any of those, or do you have any other possibilities for me?

I have much to do, but am looking forward to really getting to work to get it all up and going.  I’m hoping to launch the new site before Easter, but we’ll see how I go.  If you want to know what my goals are for the coming fortnight then check out my Accountability Journal.

Monday, 30 January 2012

Nearly there, refining my topic and developing a tagline

So I have been further working on defining my topic and thinking about my goals as I haven’t really been that impressed with what I have come up with so far.

My ultimate goal is to help make the life of a teacher easier, saving them time by providing quality resources, ideas and tips that will help them with their teaching.  I would like to help teachers build a richer learning environment, thus making a better classroom.  Personally, I would like the blog to challenge and inspire me.  I want to research and talk about educational issues, and connect with other educators from around the world.

My point of differentiation will be to provide practical, time saving tips and resources for teachers.  This could be related to lesson planning, classroom organisation, behaviour management and how to implement different teaching strategies.  I also have many connections with experienced/expert teachers who would also love to share their time saving tips and resources.

So with this in mind I have further thought about a name for my blog and a tagline.  What I have come up with so far is:
  • Teacher Saving - Saving teachers time (although Stephen seems to think this sounds too much like a bank!)
  • The Thinking Teacher – Thinking about a better classroom
  • The Thinking Teacher – Work smarter
  • The Thinking Teacher – Work smarter, not harder
  • The Thinking Teacher – Saving teachers time
(According to my little sis I shouldn't use 'the'.  So I have checked and Thinking Teacher is availalbe as a .net and .com.au.  So that would also work).

What’s your preference?

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Blog Names Continued.....

I’ve slowly been compiling a list of possible names for the new blog.  Thanks to the family the other night; they helped me brainstorm some other names.  It was rather fun coming up with suggestions, and my favourite so far (and it’s available) is ‘Give a shit teacher’.  But probably not quite right for what I’m after J.

Below is what I have so far….

Me and my lesson plans
The teachers tray
Innovative lesson plans
Click a lesson plan
Carry on teaching
Stress less teacher
Teacher attitude
Hot spot education
Teacher fountain
Perth teacher
Teachers bookmark
Swan teacher
Education project
Committed teacher
The aussie teacher
Teaches well
Teachers esky
Teaching hq (new)

Are there any there that really stand out?

Monday, 23 January 2012

Draw Happy

I’ve taken the plunge and signed up for an online drawing course.  It’s by an Australian artist named Jane Davenport.  If I’m brave enough I might even share some of my drawings here, but we’ll see.

One of the first things that Jane asks us to do is to keep an Art Journal.  I’ve never had an art journal before, but I am looking forward to doodling in it and filling the pages.  It doesn’t have to be perfect and I don’t have to show it to anyone else.  But it’s a place for me to explore my ideas, practice techniques and improve my drawing.  Does anyone else keep an art journal?  What types of things do you keep in there?

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Topic Is Decided…Now To Find A Great Name For My New Blog?

I have pretty much narrowed down my possible blog topic choices to being organised and education.  After some thinking about both of these, I realised that I can’t really get very excited about writing about being organised.  I think for me, this could only go so far before I got bored of it.  Deep down I already knew before my last post that I wanted my new blog to be on education, but I thought it was definitely worthwhile thinking of other possibilities.

I’ve started reading through the various posts about setting up my blog and one I’ve come across early on is finding a great domain name.  There are a few things that I should keep in mind:

Length: I think generally the shorter the better (easier to remember), but longer names shouldn’t be ruled out if they’re good. 

Use of Keywords in name: I’m not overly familiar with Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and all the other jargon that goes with ranking in search engines.  But I think my name will probably be semi-branded.  This is when you embed a keyword in a brand name.

.com vs .net etc.: The post I’m reading recommends .com being best because of convention and online expectations.  But if I want to reach a local audience as well (and I’m not sure if I want to register a business down the track if it matters what suffix I use) then maybe .com.au would also be worthwhile having.  Maybe I should look at acquiring both?

Things to Avoid: Numbers, difficult to spell words, hyphens and letter jumbles (do the letters from one word jumble into the next)

Okay so I’ve got a few rules to consider when choosing a name.  Next I need to do some brainstorming to narrow down the possibilities.

Step 1: develop a list of words and phrases related to my topic.  List potential brand names:
  • Education, educational, instruction, instructional, knowledge, intelligence, curriculum, lesson plans
  • Teach, teaching, teachers, learn, learning, learners
Step 2: add helper words.  This is adding short non topic related words that might be a good add on to the brand words.
  • Expert, whiz, master, leader, authority
  • Hotspot, hive, store, village, community
I might need help with this Step, any suggestions?

Step 3: Search for domains with combinations of my words.  The suggestion is to use Bust a Name to find available domains, but it doesn’t search for any .com.au domains, only .com, .net, .org etc.  Some of the ones using my combinations above include:
  • Hotspoteducation.net
  • Educationhotspot.net
  • Hotlesson.com
  • Lessonhive.com
The list is so extensive, it’s somewhat overwhelming…mmmmm this is difficult.  Do you have any suggestions on how to make this not seem so hard?  Maybe it’s best to just go with a bunch of names that I like and seem catchy and then see if they are available.

If you have any tips for me or any name ideas then I’m all ears J

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Help Me Define My Topic For My New Blog

The first thing I need to do is work out what I want my topic to be.  Let's have a look at what I have so far.

1. What are my goals for my new blog?  The first step in defining my topic is thinking about my goals - why do I want to start this blog?  
  • I would like something fun and enjoyable to work on
  • I want to find other people with a similar interest to connect with
  • I want to be able to really immerse myself in a new challenge
  • It would be nice to be a leader in the field and produce something meaningful
  • It needs to have minimal establishment costs
  • Help me become a better writer
  • Reach a wide audience
  • Produce enough income to have as my primary job.
2. List possible topics that I have a) experience in, b) an interest in and c) think I could be good at writing about.  So here is the hard part, write down all possible topic ideas.
  • Homemade items: I definitely have an interest in this and I think I could be good at this, but I don't have too much experience.
  • Critiquing and discussing TV programs. I watch a lot of TV and really enjoy it and I could definitely write about this.  But maybe it would become a bit mundane after a while?
  • How to be organised.  I am very experienced in being organised, and I could definitely write about this.  I'm also always interested in finding out about tips and tricks to lead a more organised life.  Although not sure how to monetise this?
  • Education. I could share programs, lesson plans, other resources and write about the latest innovations.  I'm experienced in primary education, am definitely interested and I know I can write about this.
  • Children's books.  I could have a go at writing these and sharing the process and finished products on the blog.  I'm interested in this and I think I could do it, but I have no experience in actually writing a children's book.  Although I could link this in with an education blog and write books to accompany teaching lesson plans and programs??
  • Something to do with novels, maybe similar to the TV idea?
3. Review the list against my original goals and criteria.  Eliminate those that don't match. Make a short list and narrow it down to the top 3.

I don't think I could really immerse myself and be a leader in the field with a blog about TV programs or homemade items.  Even with novels, I'm not really sure how to fully define this topic and it's definitely been done a lot before.

So that leaves being organised and education.  What do you think?

I'm definitely leaning towards education as I feel I have a lot I could share with teachers, parents or anyone who has an interest in education.  I could then tie in the children's books idea at some stage as well.  I know that there is ample information out there on education so I wonder if I could really succeed at this.  However, I know when I searched for programs and lesson plan ideas as a teacher, there was a lot out there but they were not of a very high quality.

I'm not sure how many people would be interested in tips and tricks for leading a more organised life.  I may need to do a bit more research on this to see what's already out there.

I also really need to consider if I can make money from these topic choices as this is one of my goals.  The education blog I think would be much easier than the organised blog.  For the education blog I could sell lesson plans, programs, eBooks, digital resources for the smart boards and maybe some sort of consulting.  

For the organised blog I could do some affiliate advertising (this is earning a commission for selling other people's products) maybe an eBook on tips and tricks.

What do you think are the pros and cons of these topic choices?  

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

The Big Challenge Takes Shape

I've had a bit more of a think about my big challenge and how to go about tackling this.  Let me explain...

As I mentioned in my previous post I've really enjoyed writing this blog and reading others.  Before I started my own blog I had only really ever read a couple of blogs of friends.  Since I've started writing my own I'm really into researching and reading all sorts of blogs.  Currently I'm reading blogs about education, how to create your own blog and make money, how to find your passion, happiness blogs, digital graphics and the list goes on.

So I'm thinking my new challenge will need to involve a blog somehow.  And then I came across the blog Think Traffic.  I found a post about a new challenge that the owner Corbett Barr was setting for himself and inviting people to join him.  The project is The Million Dollar Blog Project.  If you want an in depth look at what's involved in this project check out the link.

But basically it works like this:
  • Think Traffic will build a profitable blog and we're invited to follow along;
  • They will show exactly how they do this, from picking a topic, developing content, building a site, building an audience and generating an income; and
  • There are a couple of rules for participants (by the way it's free :-)) including keeping an accountability journal, installing a couple of traffic measurement tools and reporting any income made.
This project has already started and they have over 330 blogs signed up.  I have a lot of work to do in catching up and making a start.  I really want to do this well so I will be asking for your feedback along the way.  I will keep my accountability journal as part of this blog so you can see how I'm progressing.

However there is much to do even before I think about launching such a site.  Some of my initial tasks include:
  • Registering for the challenge and reading through the various posts
  • Picking a topic
  • Coming up with a name for the blog
  • Setting up the accountability journal
  • Building the blog
  • Writing content
  • Launching the blog
So I hear you asking why this, why am I setting myself this challenge?  A couple of things have come to light since I started this journey and that have helped me see that this could be a really positive thing.  These things include:
  1. I really like the idea of being my own boss; this could be an avenue to make this happen.  However, I will need to be very careful in my blog topic choice.  Previous experience has shown me that if I'm not fully committed to the product then it will likely be a flop.
  2. Much to my amazement I like writing and sharing information with people.
  3. I find technology and the information that's available quite intriguing
So stay tuned as I have lots to do and I can't wait to share my challenge.

But first I'd like to know...what do you think?