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- Ending the Epithet “Try-Hard” Once and for All in Classrooms - June 18, 2021
- From STEM, Let's Pivot to the BRANCHES of the Humanities - May 25, 2021
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- 10 Ways to Teach Like Ted Lasso: Part II - April 21, 2021
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- 10 Ways to Teach Like Ted Lasso: Part I - March 12, 2021
- The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teachers: Habit 3 - First Things First - February 26, 2021
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We'd like to introduce you to Fran Warren, Founder and CEO of The Educator's Room. What was once a small blog has continually blossomed and grown, becoming a true voice for education and educators around the United States and world. Fran is a great leader, but also a very worthy teacher, entrepreneur, mother, and family rock. We hope you enjoy her as much as we do.
Jake Miller, The Educator’s Room: How did you dream up The Educator’s Room?
Fran Warren, The Educator’s Room Founder and CEO: Two years ago all the teachers in my district were forced to reapply for the job. So TER was created as a way to offset a place of anger. When I was literally sitting in line with a lot of really good teachers who were unsure of their future, I realized we had something to say. I already had a blog where I wrote about being a mother. Now I wanted to bring awareness by writing from the teacher perspective.
JM: What was your greatest early struggle?
FW: Getting people to write for the site. I didn’t just want to write from my perspective; I wanted all types of different people and teachers contributing. Problem is, 99.9% of friends I knew turned me down. They didn’t want to get in trouble from principal. They didn’t have time. They thought it to be a waste of time. So, I started writing for the site; soon after, social media helped me after I started asking for writers. Readers and writers both subscribed to the vision and volunteered. Now it’s great to report that 90% of the teachers don’t live near me (in Atlanta). They’re just a group of teachers who want to teach and comment on our field.
JM: Greatest early success?
FW: Unknowingly I met John Kuhn, and we began talking about education, period. He wrote “The Exhaustion of the American Teacher,” and asked me to publish it on TER. Within 24 hours, it was published on Diane Ravitch’s website. We had 28,000 hits in one day. He helped germinate the site 2-3 months in. I almost had to play catch up with the rapid success. It’s interesting to note that I thought John was a concerned teacher; he’s a very influential superintendent.
Another nice thing is seeing teachers moving on to other things – new jobs, new courage, new presentations, and new opportunities. I enjoy helping them to survive and prosper in the ever changing world of education.
JM: What has surprised you most about the TER?
FW: Many people appreciate our content. Though for the past 6 months, I’ve been ruminating on where to go next, I know I want to see 10,000 teachers reading it a day. Right now we’re moving towards 4,000-5,000, and it’s been great to have a following and receiving feedback from our readers. It’s also been incredible to hear that my son’s teacher loves the site (and didn’t know me). It still surprises me that some of our readers say “this is the first thing I do in the morning – reading The Educator’s Room.”
JM: What’s been your favorite article to author?
FW: I like writing about teaching branding, as teachers don’t really think about. We’re taught how to teach children – not how to think outside the sphere and make money by doing what we do best. It’s great to provide tips on how to add to a teacher’s salary, as we’re worth more than we’re paid. It makes me happy when teachers hone their expertise and supplement their income by better providing for their family by doing what they’re good at – educating children.
JM: To what extent has TER grown over the years?
FW: We just had our 2 millionth hit this month. On the average day we’ll find anywhere between 3,500-5,000 page views a day. We’re growing, but I want it to grow faster. However, I remember that – just like so many of us teaching – I’m busy and “steady is the race.”
Growth also comes by learning from mistakes. An example is when we tried to do a conference last year, and we had to take a step back. That was a hard pill to swallow, but sometimes I just have to think about it and know that the vision and the work will mean it will be okay.
JM: How do you go about recruiting writers?
FW: All different ways: social media is an okay way of recruiting, but it’s difficult for some of those teachers to find the time. The best avenue is when people contact us and actually want to write from the get-go. I really want to pay the writers, and work hard to try to make sure that happens. I’ve always been focused on the need to continually bring content, content, content. Incorporate multiple perspectives and a variety of views.
Still, on the other hand, there are many people who propose writing who aren’t teachers. They’ll even offer to pay me. But I believe this site to have too much integrity to do something like that. We’re all about respecting those who chose a career in the classroom.
JM: In what ways does running TER conflict and complement your job as an instructional coach?
FW: Everything I write about stems from what I’ve observed in the classroom. I have to be careful to not be too specific and disclose personal information and specifically “out” a teacher a student. Preserving confidentiality is key. Similarly, I don’t flaunt the website at work. I’m not of the mindset of trying to force my colleagues to read the site through my position. Many of my other coworkers – and readers – already do that enough for us!
JM: How do you have enough hours in the day to do this, be a mom, and stay sane?
FW: One of the things I’ve learned is in order for anything to be successful, we have to put in the time. An element of that is surrounding yourself with awesome people who work with and for you. However, be weary of that; in my case, it made me lose my hunger a bit. Lately I’ve been saying I want to do more things lately because I want to feel the desire to keep improving. I also try to make the most of any “down time” I find. Lastly, when I need help, I always am willing to reach out – like the fact that we’re looking for a graphic designer right now to help our small business.
My life never feels like work, so it doesn’t ever stress me out.
JM: Where do you see TER going in the future?
TW: I would love to host regional workshops. I would love writers to become true independent consultants. The people we have writing here are assets to public education. I think part of the vision is to become the CNN for education. I want everyone to go to The Educator’s Room for answers and news, and being the forefront of communication when we talk about education.
JM: How do you plan on taking it there?
FW: One of the things I’m doing now is I’m researching marketing strategies. Thus far, everything’s been homegrown and nothing’s been farmed out or advertised. I want to be very principled in making those decisions, like hiring a freelance graphic designer, so when people go on Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter – we have high quality graphics. We’re coming to a head where we’re going to have to spend the money to get the results. I can see us having Educator’s Room shirts and stickers in the booth at a multitude of conferences. When people think of me, they’ll think of TER.
JM: Any closing thoughts for our teacher-entrepreneurs?
FW: Teachers really have the power to change education. They have the ability to make paradigm shifts by just going for it. The worst anybody can tell you is no – even a million times – until there’s one yes.