Elton John’s Guide to Business Success

By Martha / On / In 1year

Elton John and Bernie Taupin wrote some bitchin’ songs. “Take Me to the Pilot”, “Tiny Dancer”, “Candle in the Wind”, “I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues”, “Sad Songs (Say So Much)” All awesome, but I’m partial to Border Song. It’s moody. It’s dark. It’s soulful. It’s a great song. Except for that third verse. Which might be one of the worst things. Ever. And I don’t just mean in music. If you’ve never heard Border Song, or haven’t heard it since it was new, I’ve included the video for your viewing pleasure. (And because Elton John’s hair makes my Salvidor Dali photos look fucking fashionable.) Give it a listen and then come back. I’ll wait.

Bad Lyrics = a Prime Business Lesson

The last verse is vague, trite and unimaginative, but what can it teach you about running your business? A lot. See, when Bernie and Elton wrote together, they did it separately. Bernie worked in one room. Elton in another. Bernie wrote lyrics. Elton wrote music. When they eventually put them together, something amazing (usually) came out. When they wrote Border Song it was originally only two verses (the good ones). It was Elton that wanted the 3rd(shitty) verse and wrote the lyrics himself. The result? A good song that could have been great but, much like a bad blowjob, chokes right at the end. And all because Elton wanted to play on Bernie’s side of the creative fence.

Continue reading “Elton John’s Guide to Business Success” »

Right Timing is Everything

By Martha / On / In 1year

This morning I talked with Emily from MyCareerTools about promoting their free GED help tools and was blown away. Sell your stuff where they buy it she said. Pretty simple for most businesses right? If I sell gum, I sell it at convenience stores, grocery stores, candy machines, vending machines in the workplace, etc…

NOT GOOD ENOUGH! What do you mean not good enough… right? Well, I guess I should say, not obvious enough. It is not only where your customers are buying, but at the most opportune time as well.

a_better_youEmily explained that instead of normal ads she decided to promoted their practice tests for the GED test on career websites. People who are looking for a better job might realize that having a GED diploma will help them to get a better job! Get the point now? Get obvious about where your products are on offer. So, not only where your customers are buying, but at the most opportune time as well.

So what does this have to do with your business? Seriously, it has everything to do with it. If you are using online video to attract customers instead of just throwing them up all over and tweeting the crap out of them and spamming your Facebook friends, place them where your clients will watch them. Figure out where your target audience is, when they are there, and position your videos right in front of them, in their time of need. The rest falls right into place doesn’t it? Continue reading “Right Timing is Everything” »

Digital Dialogue – developing ideas

By Martha / On / In 1year, teaching

Communication takes so many different forms, but increasingly it is taking place online. The impact of digital dialogue is enormous – just look at the burgeoning networks that are being established on Twitter.

At the success of Facebook. If there was any doubt about the potential impact of digital dialogue, we only have to look at the social and political impact of online communication in recent weeks throughout the Middle East. Just look at how our teenagers organise their lives and identify with others through their online communications.

The internet has evolved from an information source, an online “encyclopedia”, to a tool for social dialogue, shared game-playing, collaboration. And it’s the dialogue that takes place that seems to be having the impact. Continue reading “Digital Dialogue – developing ideas” »

How Creative Is Your Teaching?

By Martha / On / In 1year, teaching

Does it frequently involve artwork? Does it involve drama? Does it involve music? Does it involve some practical activity?

Or does it involve making choices about a tech tool to use? Problem solving? Open ended tasks? Self-directed learning? Collaboration? Peer feedback?

I can be creative – I have spent many hours following a knitting or cross-stitch pattern. I have followed dressmaking patterns. I can follow a piece of music when playing my guitar or singing. But I think that is a different sort of creativity to the creativity I use in class. Continue reading “How Creative Is Your Teaching?” »

Making a Difference as a Teacher

By Martha / On / In 1year, teaching

Just over a year ago, I met the most amazing and inspiring lady.  She originally comes from Burundi, but now lives with her husband and (now grown up) children in our area, having come to the country as a student. She worked for a long time as a teacher before becoming a social worker. She has a warm heart and generous spirit as you will tell from what I have to say!

Her family stayed in Burundi when she came over here, but unfortunately most of them were victims of the genocide that happened there.  The details are too horrific to include here, but her father (a Christian pastor in the area) saw all the events, though he was left for dead by their attackers after watching his wife and other family members being killed.  I can’t begin to describe how moving their story is, how dreadful were the circumstances that drove tribe to fight tribe. But that isn’t what this story is about anyway. It’s about what happened when Grace returned to Burundi for a visit. Continue reading “Making a Difference as a Teacher” »

Oh my! A nomination!

By Martha / On / In 1year, teaching

I just startled my husband by shouting aloud as I discovered my blog had been nominated for Best New Blog in the Edublogs awards! I remember looking at all the inspirational blogs in last year’s awards (just as I started on twitter!) and being inspired to start my own – the inspiration helped me realise it would help solve two problems I was finding:

  • I kept running out of space to express myself in the 140 characters allowed by twitter
  • I needed a way to remember what I was doing!

Continue reading “Oh my! A nomination!” »

Results of the online collaboration project

By Martha / On / In 1year, teaching

I was reminded earlier this week that I hadn’t really said much about my own project  the course of these blog posts.  I think you will probably have gathered I’ve had a lot to reflect on and had an absolutely fabulous time in Cape Town.

To be honest, it’s probably taken the couple of weeks since I’ve been home for the enormity of what happened to sink in. I was really pleased at how well-received the project was at #msief, proud to have become a semi-finalist alongside another great UK teacher –  and truly humbled that out of so many wonderful projects it won first runner up in the collaboration category! WOW! That means that we are well on track for the collaborative ways of working that were mentioned in my previous post and how impressive are our pupils with their world-class achievements! Continue reading “Results of the online collaboration project” »

Cape of Good Hope Tour

By Martha / On / In 1year, teaching

As the tour bus trundled along the coast road towards the Cape of Good Hope, we were stopped in our tracks. Baboons in the middle of the road! What a sight – and we weren’t even on safari! Just the normal sorts of wildlife you might expect to encounter, apparently.  And then came the farm. Neatly laid out fields, with fences around them. A series of rectangles side by side, with the livestock huddled together in the corner, grazing. We could have been in Wales! Except that the livestock weren’t sheep, they were ostriches! Just like you’d expect in Wales, too, some of the livestock were just grazing at the side of the road, in between the road and the ocean.

Given that the only wildlife spotted the trip and conference in South Africa  were a few sheep creatively stuck to the back of chairs during @innovativeteach’s seminar, it was wonderful to be so close to the native species.

Continue reading “Cape of Good Hope Tour” »

Making change possible means more collaboration

By Martha / On / In 1year, teaching

Some things in life are so special that they deserve a REALLY special setting. Like seeing penguins in their own habitat. HOW AMAZING is that (or to use the word of the week – AWESOME!) Please excuse the capitalisation – but this is EXCITING!!!!!! In amongst the ordinary and the mundane, the extraordinary and the innovative can flourish. At the end of someone’s back garden at Simonstown, there was the most extraordinary thing to see – penguins in their own environment.

Turn around 180 degrees from looking at the sea and you see the houses.  The gardens. “Normal” life. But this is “normal” for these penguins. Just like the innovative projects seen at the worldwide innovative education forum in Cape Town last week – they are at the end of SOMEONE’s back garden. They are someone else’s “NORMAL”. But to others they may be EXTRAORDINARY, AMAZING, AWESOME.  It depends on your viewpoint. How many things are you doing that you feel are “NORMAL” that would be someone else’s “AWESOME”? And how much do you feel that sharing your normal with others is part of what you need to do as a teacher? Part of your professional responsibility? Continue reading “Making change possible means more collaboration” »

Evolution of a Teacher’s Toolbox

By Martha / On / In 1year, teaching

Recent Teachers’ conference  was an inspiring experience, now I’ve had time to reflect, these are my own personal highlights from what I learnt.  As with any event, each person will take away their own snapshots and apply it to their own understanding and situation.  These are very personal reflections and I will try to refer to sources wherever possible – and apologise in advance if I portray what was said in a different way to how it was intended or if I get my references wrong.

There were 2 stand-out keynote speakers for me – lots of other very interesting keynotes too, but these were my learning highlights of the week. Listening to Professor Sugata Mitra talking about his Hole in the Wall project was thought-provoking, humbling and puts teachers in their place by putting children in theirs – in control of their learning.

David Rogers reflected on this approach to teaching in his recent blog post here.  Like David, I found this approach by accident, when trying out new tools with the children and finding that sometimes when I take a step back, then they learn Continue reading “Evolution of a Teacher’s Toolbox” »