Elton John’s Guide to Business Success

images-90Elton 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 fricking 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.

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Right Timing is Everything

clock-largeThis 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.

Emily 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.

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Us Vs. Them: Variations on a Theme

best-time-to-send-email-campaignSeptember was a rough month for our college family. We were hit with the one-two punch the anniversary of 9/11 and a tragic van accident which resulted in the deaths of 3 of our friends.

Soon after our campus was besieged by a plague of hyper-Calvinism. For awhile, it seemed like every other week another friend was “coming out Calvinist”.

I couldn’t help but feel that this was an emotional response to recent events. Naturally, they believed my rejection of these doctrines was emotional as well. I was so adamantly opposed that one student suggested I might be a vessel of wrath.

The arguments had become ubiquitous. Charity, civility, and friendship were casualties. It wasn’t long before I grew weary of fighting and so I retreated from fights believing they could not accomplish anything.

“Peace, peace’ they say, ‘but there is no peace.’” Jeremiah 8:11

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Digital Dialogue – developing ideas

listening-skillsCommunication 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 organize 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.

Dialogue? It needs more than one person. It’s using communication to bounce ideas back and forth, to exchange and develop ideas and to refine our own viewpoint.

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Making a Difference as a Teacher

images-91Just 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.

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Oh my! A nomination!

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 images-92looking 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 realize 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!

Blogging has proved to be a tremendously powerful reflective tool, as well as a record of what has been going on in my class and cpd.  It’s been a useful way for me to record my notes.

What has surprised me is how many others are interested in reading it too – but if my mistakes and/or successes help someone else in their own practice so they don’t have to re-invent the same wheels, then I am more than happy to share what I have been doing and what I have been learning.

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Results of the online collaboration project

ktk-logoI 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 the Carolinas.

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 the school, proud to have become a semi-finalist alongside another great US teachers –  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 students with their world-class achievements! Continue reading

Evolution of a Teacher’s Toolbox

images-93The 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 apologize 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 even more than when I am controlling every step of their learning experience!

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International Collaborations in Education

images-6Following on from the success of the “Working Without Walls” project I have done with previous classes, the second half of last year saw skills being shared with colleagues throughout school in shared planning/shared teaching sessions – CPD that I, for one, thoroughly enjoyed being involved in and which has seen the learning platform being increasingly used for learning throughout the school.

So it’s time to look at some ways in which we can move the project forward as a whole school – and so starts a year which I think is going to be enormously exciting for us! If you’ve been following my tweets recently, you will know that I am getting very excited about this weekend because I am off  for an e-twinning workshop.

e-twinning is a great opportunity to work with other schools from around Europe in collaborative projects and one reason I am particularly looking forward to the trip is the opportunity to establish lasting relationships with other teachers which will lead to sustainable, planned collaborations.
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