It’s been five years since I started the Shake Up Learning blog!
I can’t believe it.
In some ways, I thought time was moving so slowly as I tried to grow and improve. In other ways, it’s gone by so fast.
It’s like I blinked and five years have flown by.
My parents used to tell me when I was a kid that the older you get, the faster time moves, and now I see what they mean.
On January 25, 2014, Shake Up Learning was born.
My biggest regret, not pushing myself to start sooner.
I talk a lot about the power of sharing your voice, in fact, there’s an entire chapter on the subject in my book, Shake Up Learning: Practical Ideas to Move Learning From Static to Dynamic.
Starting this blog and sharing my voice was the BEST decision I ever made for my own learning and my career.
Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t easy. I have worked hard and poured my blood, sweat, and tears into this blog and everything related to it — all in the name of helping teachers learn how to integrate technology meaningfully in their classrooms.
A Perfectionist with Paralysis No More!
To celebrate this five-year milestone, I’d like to revisit my very first blog post, A Perfectionist with Paralysis: Why I’m Finally Blogging. (Visit this link to see the original post.)
I actually shared this story again as an Ignite speech at ISTE back in 2015. Then, I revised again to share the Shake Up Learning story in the preface of my book.
While I always strive to create the best content that I can, I have come a long way since that first post. I am no longer paralyzed by my fears of being good enough–a perfectionist with paralysis NO MORE!
I can tell you that when I started this blog, I never thought I would have the opportunity to publish a book, or deliver a keynote, let alone deliver a keynote in another country.
I could never have imagined the opportunities that would come my way.
I never thought this would be more than just a hobby, but it is now my mission and my career.
I share this not to brag, but to encourage YOU to share your voice, and to encourage students to share their voices as well.
You Have the Power to Shake Up Learning!
Everyone has something unique to share.
Everyone has a fear to overcome.
Everyone is a learner.
Everyone has the power to Shake Up Learning!
The Shake Up Learning Story
Below is an excerpt from my book of the Shake Up Learning story.
Before I committed to creating a blog, I was riddled with insecurities. I didn’t think my voice mattered.
Why would anyone listen to me when so many other educators were sharing incredible resources online and doing it better than I ever could? What could I share that was new and original? Content creation was for the chosen few, the education rock stars.
Why would I want to leave my perfectly comfortable position as a lurker on the sidelines? What if I was a complete failure? What if I put something out there and no one read it? Worse, what if they read it and laughed at me?
I had started a blog several times with the best of intentions, spending countless hours researching platforms, templates, plugins, hosting options, and titles, but I never got my feet off the ground. Nothing was ever good enough.
I was a perfectionist with paralysis.
The Other “F” Word–FEAR
Many of us struggle with this fear. It’s scary to put yourself out there!
I knew the value of blogging. When I was a classroom teacher, my students blogged, and they discovered the power of sharing their voices online and connecting with their peers. I saw an immediate change in the quality of their work.
As an instructional leader and digital learning coach, I encouraged teachers to blog with their students. I was happy to help them get started and give them examples of teachers who do it well. However, I was not an example for them to follow.
When I finally resolved to take the plunge and start blogging, I wanted to launch my site not only with the perfect content but with the perfect design and logo that would stand out as perfection in the ever-crowded sea of educational bloggers.
I wanted my blog to look like a well-established website before I ever let anyone see it. It simply had to be epic from day one. Right.
Eventually, I got a grip and realized my blog would never be perfect. I let that dream go and focused on risk-taking, a skill on which I speak almost daily.
I firmly believe in the power of taking risks, and I knew I could no longer allow my fears to hold me back. I also knew I could reach more teachers and students if I took the leap.
So in January 2014, I put myself out there—I put my blog out there, imperfections and all!
It’s Not About Me
The creation of Shake Up Learning was very intentional. When I decided to create a blog, I knew I didn’t want it to be about me. No Kasey Bell dot com.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with using your name as the title of your blog, and I do actually own KaseyBell.com, just in case I ever need it. But I wanted everything about my educational blog to reflect my goal of affecting change and helping more teachers embrace digital tools as a means to transform the classroom.
After a great deal of thought and research, Shake Up Learning was born.
When I published for the first time, I was terrified.
I really don’t know why. It’s not like I was going to show up first—or even third or fourth—in a Google search, but I was scared of what people would think. I had seen the horrible trolls and commenters that were rampant on blogs, and I was worried about how critical other educators might be. It turns out my readers and other educational bloggers are very forgiving and supportive.
I had no idea the wealth of support that was waiting for me. I made some mistakes, but I survived.
I was mortified the first time someone pointed to an error on my blog, and I’m talking about just a typo, nothing huge. Though the criticism was constructive and friendly, I took it personally and worried about it for days. But I kept going, and the more content I created, the more support I felt from readers, and the more my insecurities melted away.
My skin grew a little thicker, and the affirmation and appreciation I received far outweighed the critical voices in my head.
Learning from my mistakes was vital. I can’t emphasize this enough. I find I always learn so much more from the moments that didn’t go as planned. As tough as they can be to swallow, our mistakes shape our life’s path.
Some of the best lessons I learned—in academia and in life—came from a misstep, taking a wrong turn, and sometimes falling flat on my face. I still make a lot of mistakes, but I have learned to let them go.
Another surprising skill I have learned along the way is to accept criticism and consider it an opportunity to improve, not a validation of my worst fears. If people only ever see your best self, they never see the real you. Just listen to the bloopers from my podcast, GoogleTeacherTribe.com, and you’ll know what I mean.
Most of the time, criticism from my fellow educators is offered with kindness. I am lucky to be in a community of educators governed by grace and overwhelming support for one another. It’s not always like that in other professions.
Back in 2014, I never expected blogging to flip my career on its head, but that’s exactly what happened. I had no clue about the transformation—the shake up, if you will—that was about to take place.
The truth is, I never thought about the community I was joining as a blogger or the community I was creating until it was there in front of me.
Teachers began leaving comments on my blog, sharing their ideas and significantly expanding my personal learning network.
The comments and conversations were, for the most part, warm and positive. My blog has connected with some of the most inspiring teachers in the world.
And to think, I almost let my fears keep me from such wonderful opportunities to learn and grow.
Stepping outside my comfort zone was the best decision I ever made.
I want to thank YOU. Whether this is the first blog post you have ever read on Shake Up Learning, or if you are a loyal subscriber, YOU have been part of my journey.
YOU are a part of Shake Up Learning.
YOU have made this all worthwhile.
Don’t hold back!
Share YOUR voice, be DYNAMIC, and always remember to SHAKE UP LEARNING!
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