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Celebrating fantastic teachers of my past

Do you often think how important teachers can be?

I just read a post from Mummy Smiles that is basically a letter to a teacher she appreciates for the impact he made on her life. It’s a lovely idea to reflect and thank those who made a difference as part of World Teachers Day 2012 (which I have since discovered was on 5 October, but that doesn’t change the sentiments of my post!).

It got me thinking about some of my great teachers – and I’m sticking to the formal definition of teacher for now as distinct from other people who have taught me things along the way.

Inspiring biology teacher

First to mind is my year 12 biology teacher, Mrs Bennett. I loved how she knew her stuff well enough to not need notes – she just stood at the front and spoke to us about whatever topic we were studying. It really stood out to me that she did that, and could answer random questions thrown at her, whereas most other teachers worked more closely to their class plan.

The fact she just spoke and I could take notes in my own style (rather than copy whan was written on the board) was something I enjoyed and value.

  • I like freedom so choosing what to note suited my style
  • It was great training for uni the next year – and subsequent seminars and conferences I’ve been for that matter. She gave us a real life skill.
  • I learn more by having to figure out what’s important enough to jot down when listening to new information – scribing someone else’s words doesn’t have the same impact. So her style probably helped me get a great final score for biology (don’t ask what I got because I can’t remember! It was certainly above 85% anyway)

As many students didn’t grab the opportunity as I did, Mrs Bennett finished each discussion with a set of notes on the board for people to write down. I spent that time, thinking about what she wrote or helping my less-science-minded friend understand the lesson – again, I love the fact she respected me to do that as she knew I had already taken notes and absorbed the topic.

Ahead of his time

Grade 5 teacher, Mr Hughes

School photo of Mr Hughes

My other favourite teacher was Mr Hughes (a coincidence of names that I loved at the time!) who taught me in grade 5.

Again, I think it was the respect he gave us and the ability to learn at our own pace that inspires me about this teacher.

He was probably the eldest teacher I had (and that’s not just a 10 year old’s version of old! He was definitely older than my parents and from looking at photos I would say he was in his late fifties when he taught me.) Yet he used so many techniques that I now see teachers using with my children.

For example, in maths, he used worksheets that he had prepared. He assigned us individually to a level in each maths topic (eg divisions, multiplication, measurement) and that’s the worksheet we started on. During class, we each worked at our own pace to complete the relevant sheet – if we finished, we simply moved onto the next level. Mr Hughes walked around helping as required and checking our work.

That means of teaching was unheard of in our school and from any of my friends.

Yet it gave us all a chance to learn – the smart kids were challenged, the struggling kids were supported and no one was judged or felt inadequate (or superior for that matter).

Mr Hughes also gave me my first school report – he taught us how to create our own total marks by compiling our test and project results. It was fascinating to see the impact of each result on the total and made the transition to formal reports in secondary school much easier.

My eldest daughter got her first school report as a prep student; her younger sister got a report in kinder! That is 7 and 8 years respectively earlier than I got my first formal school report!

My children are often put into groups at school to work at different academic levels.

Mr Hughes taught me a lot and was definitely ahead of his time with his methods. He benefitted me and I wonder how much he influenced some of the following educational changes?

No English teachers?

It would be nice to say I am a writer now because of my English teachers.

But I’d be lying.

That’s not to say my English teachers were poor teachers, not at all, but none of them were as inspiring as Mrs Bennett and Mr Hughes. And no one ever encouraged me to think of my writing as a skill while I was at school.

I got good marks in English and found writing essays and the like easier than many of my class mates, which all makes sense now! But English was just seen as a means to an end, not as something to follow for its own sake, in my school experiences. It’s a pity really, but I gained other skills and knowledge in doing a science degree instead.

With gratitude…thanks teacher message on a blackboard

I say thank you to all my teachers for what they have taught me and their efforts (I know teachers do more than sit in a classroom all day). Even the teachers I resent (and that’s a different story altogether) taught me things.

For Mrs Bennett, Mr Hughes and the other teachers who gave me great moments of insight and development, I am truly grateful.

What teachers are you grateful for?

Do you value your life teachers differently to your formal education teachers?

Setting rules for guest posts on your blog

As I have just started using guest bloggers on this blog (see Karol’s post from yesterday as an example), it seemed timely to discuss how you establish guidelines for your guest bloggers.

Why have guest blogger guidelines?

Every blog is different – as are all the bloggers – which means two things.

  1. to keep your blog focussed on your brand and style, you need to define how that happens
  2. not all bloggers will have the same high standards as you  so don’t assume any guest blogger will behave professionally or within your style

Guidelines for guest bloggers helps maintain your blog. Publicly available policies or guidelines will also reduce the number of blog posts you receive that don’t meet your rules.

What goes into guest blogger guidelines?

Well, the short answer is ‘that’s up to you – it’s your blog!’

rules & guidelines for blogs

Fun or formal, long or short, guidelines are handy…

But I’m guessing you want a more detailed answer so here are some important points to consider – you may or may not list all of them for bloggers to see but it’s good to have considered each one relative to your blog.

  1. length of posts – minimums and maximums
  2. unique content vs reused content – including how long after you publish the post can it be used
  3. standard of writing – is average acceptable or do you want great?
  4. standard of content – is it correct and up-to-date? Does it give something new or just spout motherhood statements?
  5. copyright and ownership – be sure the blogger has the right to offer you the post and any accompanying images
  6. how many links can be included in the post? in the bio box?
  7. how long is their bio? will it be shown and can it include images?
  8. do posts have to be informative rather than an ad for someone else?
  9. can affiliate links be included?
  10. what type of content do you want (or not want)? For instance, toplists only takes lists and other sites don’t want reviews
  11. what topics do you want (or not want) covered? Does it have to be something not covered before in your blog?
  12. will links get a dofollow or nofollow attribute?
  13. what promotion do you expect from the guest blogger?
  14. do you expect the guest blogger to visit your site and respond to comments? it’s in their best interests to do so but many don’t
  15. are there suitability factors such as no adult concepts or no swearing?
  16. how often will you post something by the same person?

Which ones do you include in your guest blogger policy (even if it is an unwritten policy so far!)?

Did anything on that list make you say “Oh, that’s a good idea!” and get you thinking?

I’ll post more about hosting guest blog posts soon, but let me know if you have specific questions…

Branding the little things

Building a brand is an important way to develop your business and attract customers, but I read a blog post recently that reminded me of branding even the small things to match your style guide.

Kylie posted that customising and branding your invoices is useful, and quite easy. Personally, I have always had my logo and other details in my invoices, but I hadn’t thought about changing the font. Many people would say that invoices are boring and nuisances rather than marketing tools – and that no one would ever notice what font the dollars are printed in – but it still part of being consistent and reinforcing the look of your business. It also shows an attention to detail for anyone who does notice the details of your invoice.

So, is your invoice branded? Does that include choice of font, wording style and colours/backgrounds?

Cannot or can’t?

I was recently asked if it is grammatically better to use can’t instead of cannot.

Actually, both words are grammatically correct and context is the best basis for choosing which word to use.

When writing something formal, the word cannot is more appropriate; when writing soemthing informal and casual, you tend to use words as you would speak them, so can’t is quite appropriate and used more often.

There is nothing wrong with using either word in any context, but matching the word to the context helps the flow and style of your writing.