I don’t normally post on Sunday, but today is a special day. Today is the one year anniversary of my blog Shake Up Learning. So much has happened in the last year, and I am so grateful for the people this blog has brought into my life. There have been so many surprises and blessings from entering the blogosphere. So today I wanted to share some reflections on my first year as a blogger, and offer some tips for educators who want to start a blog.

Tip #1: It’s Worth the Risk!

Here is a link to my first blog post: A Perfectionist with Paralysis: Why I’m Finally Blogging. It was not a long post, and didn’t include any tips or tricks, but just me putting myself out there. I took a risk, just like I encourage teachers to do in my workshops. I had to model the skills or risk becoming a fraud. So I did it, and just like the graphic in my first post, it was a F.A.I.L., or First Attempt in Learning. (I know that has made the rounds, but I still love that acronym!) I wasn’t sure where this was going, but I was all in!

Tip #2: Perfect is the Enemy of Done!
In a lot of ways, I am still that same perfectionist with paralysis. There are times when I have to make myself publish, even though I am not happy with my images, layout or copy. Mistakes happen, typos are a given, but you have to let things go or you will never finish! Remember, “Perfect is the Enemy of Done!” Draft your copy in a word processor (I use Google Docs), use spell check, read and re-read, but don’t let yourself get caught in the revision web. Share your content! Educators are forgiving and supportive!

Tip #2: Educational Bloggers are Friendly and Supportive

To be honest, I was very nervous when I hit publish for the first time. I really didn’t want anyone to look at it until I had more content. (Terrible, I know!) But I had set up Twitter to automatically share my posts. I had my first comment the same day, which was also a little terrifying. The comment was encouragement from a friend. I’d like to send a special thank you to my friend and colleague, Dr. Brian Brown (Doc Brown), for leaving my very first comment and encouraging me to keep going.

This is the first thing you should know about becoming an educational blogger: We are a pretty nice crew! Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve had my share of naysayers and trolls, but for the most part I have felt fully supported and encouraged by my own PLN and beyond. Be a teacher is tough…We all know that! So I think we all appreciate those that are willing to share their tips and ideas. Sharing is caring people!–SERIOUSLY!

Tip #3: Set Realistic Goals that Work for You

I started out with a goal to post once a week. For the most part, I was able to stick with that and then some. I published 60 blog posts in my first year of blogging! While I wasn’t able to post every single week, I was able to make up for it by posting 2-3 times during the other weeks. Life gets busy, and if you let it, a blog can become a second job. I have really enjoyed blogging, and there are some days that I wish it was a full-time gig.

Tip #4: Let Passion Be Your Driver

I am very much an edtech geek, and enjoy learning and sharing with teachers. My number one goal is always to improve teaching and learning. I want to be a difference-maker, and reach as many classrooms as I can…Oh! And I want to have lots of fun along the way!

Carefully consider the reasons you want to blog, and what topics you will blog about. Make sure it is something you can talk/write about for days on end. The moment blogging becomes a chore, take a step back and remember why you started it. Your blog should be about something you are passionate about, or you will never stick with it. Be honest with yourself, and set-reminders for drafting and posting so you don’t forget your goals!

Tip #5: Encourage Reader Interactions, Be Social and Grow Your PLN

(So maybe this is three tips in one, but they are all connected.) Always remember, blogging IS a social media platform. Many people may not know this about me, but I am very much an introvert. Some days it can be a struggle for me to put myself out there, and to network face-to-face. It’s definitely easier to do this online. So be sure that you ALLOW comments on your blog, and give readers a question or call to action to encourage them to leave a comment. This is something I am working to improve upon. So PLEASE feel free to leave comments! I try very hard to respond to all of the comments I receive.

In addition to being social on your own blog, If you want to start a successful blog that people actually read, you really must be active on at least a couple social media platforms besides the blog itself. So get rid of your Twitter egg, and stop lurking. Join the conversation, join twitter chats, and share on other platforms that you like. You don’t have to do them all, but do what works for you and share great content, not just your own. (I am a HUGE fan of Google+! Check it out, and connect with some AMAZING educators and communities.)

My goals for 2015 included getting back on Facebook, something I am still struggling with, but I know that is a platform that teachers use and will allow me to further my reach. Feel free to check out my new Shake Up Learning Facebook page. I am also more active on Instagram these days, and I’m looking for great educators to follow: Shake Up Learning on Instagram.

I think one of the biggest surprises of the last year, was the people the blog brought into my life. I have met some of THE most AWESOME educators, both on and offline. Some of these are educators that I have admired from afar, my academic crushes, and some are just #awesomesauce that I have found along the way. I am now learning with these members of my PLN everyday. I wish I could give shout outs to each and every one of these great people, but (1) it would make this post way too long, and (2) I’m afraid I would forget someone! So this is my shout out and love song to all of those I have connected and learned from along the way! THANK YOU!!!!!!!

This blog is a long way from where I want it to be, so I have set a lot of new goals for the blog and myself. Thank you to my readers and subscribers! I appreciate all the support, ideas, and learning that you have offered. Please continue to connect and share and let me know if there is ever anything that I can do to help you and your students. We are better together!

Thanks for a great first year!

Kasey Bell

This has been an unbelievable year for me, and I’d like to share some highlights! I’m very proud of these accomplishments!

June 5, 2014 – authorized Google Education Trainer

  • Becoming an authorized Google Education Trainer really upped my game, opened new doors for me, and gave me some great ideas for blog posts!

June 26, 2014 – EdTech Magazine 50 Must Read K12 IT Blogs

  • I really couldn’t believe I made this list after just five months of blogging. It was such an exciting honor!

July 11, 2014 – Co-leader of the North Texas Google Educator Group (GEG-NORTX)

  • This community, and the community of GEG Leaders has deepened my own learning and expanded my PLN in ways I never expected. Join your local GEG!

November 3-4, 2014 – Re-MAKE Learning: Research Behind Building and Creating at Bright Bytes in San Francisco

  • This deep dive into maker spaces and playful learning was a great learning experience, and an honor! I was so grateful to be selected for the very first Bright Bytes Institute with one of my educational heroes, Kristen Swanson! Look for the resulting white paper to be shared on this blog very soon!

December 2-3, 2014 – Google Teacher Academy, Austin (#GTAATX)

December 6, 2014 – Edublog Award Finalist (in two categories)

  • So in less than a year, Shake Up Learning made the list in two categories! I couldn’t believe it. This was such an honor!

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