Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself. ~ John Dewey

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Seth Godin

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I’ve read a lot of books in the past three years…..ok….for me personally it’s been a lot of reading. This one I didn’t actually read. I listened to it ($5.59 via iTunes). But being an auditory learner….that’s better than reading anyway.

This one though, this book, hit me a little deeper than others. It might be where I’m at right now in my life. It might be that I’m trying to find my niche in this new world that I myself do not fully understand. Trying to be a new worker in an old company isn’t easy. But it can be and is on many levels very rewarding.

I’ve been a reader of Seth’s for over a year now. He’s in my must read category and what he can say in three paragraphs, the deepness and directness of his words, are something of an art.

The book gets right to the point. That what leadership is about is leading a tribe. Create a tribe passionate followers and lead it. Do I have a Tribe? Could I create a Tribe?

Those are the questions I keep asking myself. Then there is the question where are we going? Gapingvoid puts it best.

Leadership does not exist in a vacuum, you need somewhere to actually lead your tribe to.

Right now I have no idea. I’m just an educator. Do I have a purpose? Do I have a vision? One thing that Seth points out is to write your manifesto. Put it out there and then build a tribe around it.

I’ve been thinking about what it is I actually stand for. What is it that I truly believe?

There are tribes on many levels, and having the ability to organize the tribe around a purpose or vision is what leadership truly is.

Create a Tribe at your school:

Can you create a Tribe at your school? Every school has it’s obstacles. It’s easy for us to talk about not having administrative support, not having access to this web site or the blocking of that one. Complaining is easy, creating a Tribe and making change happen is work.

Where to start the Tribe:

Find those teachers, those colleges that are your early adopters. Find those teachers that you already are supporting and create a tribe with them. For me, I’ve started an e-mail group at school. A group of the teachers who constantly share cool sites with me, or send me e-mails asking “What’s next?” Bring these members together and form a tribe within your school. Find your purpose, and create the change. You don’t need support, be the support. You don’t need permission, a tribe gives itself permission. Find a way to create a tribe and be the change that you want.

The need for passion:

You can not lead a Tribe if you are not passionate about your purpose, your vision. I am coming off a week break from school. A week in which most people would have looked at what I was doing, creating, participating in, and not understand why I choice to spend my ‘week vacation’ deep in thinking about technology and education. For me, this was the break I needed. I need a week to go really deep. To read a book like Tribes, to catch up on ideas, programs, software, and reading that I had put off. A week to try new things Ustreaming, to think about where education is going and to craft my message for up coming conferences. I came back to school this week energized, focused and excited. Education is my passion. Learning is my passion.

Learning is the reason I got into education. I love to learn, and what better place to be if you love learning than in a school. To talk about learning on a deep level every day with students and educators. Learning is my passion!

We’ll see where all this leads me. Do I have a tribe? Can I build a tribe? If my passion is learning what is my focus, my vision that I can create a tribe around?

Stay tuned….we’ll see where this leads.

The conversation that has been going on around Twitter over at Utechtips.com both here and here has lead to other e-mails and discussions around building networks and specifically how do you get people to comment on your blog?

The problem is….you can’t make people comment. What you can do is write compelling blog posts that make people want to leave comments. How do you do that….I’m not sure.

Seth Godin outlines 9 rules of blogging:

  1. Use headlines. I use them all the time now. Not just
    boring ones that announce your purpose (like the one on this post) but
    interesting or puzzling or engaging headlines. Headlines are perfect
    for engaging busy readers.
  2. Realize that people have choices. With 80 million other
    blogs to choose from, I know you could leave at any moment (see, there
    goes someone now). So that makes blog writing shorter and faster and
    more exciting.
  3. Drip, drip, drip. Bloggers don’t have to say everything at once. We can add a new idea every day, piling on a thesis over time.
  4. It’s okay if you leave. Bloggers aren’t afraid to include links or distractions in their writing, because we know you’ll come back if what we had to say was interesting.
  5. Interactivity is a great shortcut. Your readers care about
    someone’s opinion even more than yours… their own. So reading your
    email or your comments or your trackbacks (your choice) makes it easy
    to stay relevant.
  6. Gimmicks aren’t as useful as insight. If you’re going to
    blog successfully for months or years, sooner or later you need to
    actually say something. Same goes for your writing.
  7. Don’t be afraid of lists. People like lists.
  8. Show up. Not writing is not a useful way of expressing your ideas. Waiting for perfect is a lousy strategy.
  9. Say it. Don’t hide, don’t embellish.

These are some great ideas that hopefully have you thinking. But the best idea is

Link, Link, Link, Link

Learn to use the power of linked content. That is what makes the web a….well….web. Understanding how to get your blog linked into the network is important. So here are a couple things I would start with as a new blogger and I hope that others will add their ideas in the comments below.

1)Register your blog with Technorati
Technorati is not only used as a search engine by other bloggers (those most likely to leave comments) but many people use RSS feeds from the different Technorati tags to aggregate information. Being connected into Technorati gives you a wide net as those tags can be and are used for other search sites as well.

2)Learn to use Technorati tags
After you have registered your blog spend some time learning about tagging information. If you are using your own hosted WordPress the Tag to Technorati plugin is an easy way to make sure you are tagging your posts and that Technorati will pick up those tags.

If you are using Blogger. Get use to using what it calls labels (Why blogger doesn’t call them tags like everyone else is beyond me!). If your blog is registered with Technorati and you label your blog posts then Technorati will pick those up as Technorati Tags (Or so is my understanding I don’t use blogger…anyone?).


(Click here to enlarge)

3)Leave comments and leave your URL
The best way to get eyeballs on your site is to leave comments on other blogs and make sure you leave behind your blog address as well. Many times the author of the blog will follow the link to check out who left the comment and to learn more about you (I do) and other commenter’s do the same.

4)Link, Link, Link
Link to other bloggers. Read other bloggers and make sure you link to them. Those links (known in the blogosphere as Pingbacks) show up as comments on most blogs and it’s a way to again link information together.

5)Content
The amount of content on your blog makes a difference as well. I for one benefit from just the sheer amount of content I now have on my blog (some 660+ posts). That content is picked up by search engines and nearly 40% of my traffic each day comes from search engines (Google specifically). So just know that it takes time. People do not just show up and start commenting on your blog. There is a process that readers go through from lurking to commenting.

Write what you’re thinking, be true to who you are, and find your niche in a niche market. My niche is as an international educator. I have the feeling if I was to move back to the States that I’d be just another educational blogger. But I have a niche as an international technology educator. There are a few of us out here, but it’s still a pretty small niche.

I got my first comment on my 10th post. I didn’t get two comments on the same post until around the 100 post mark. So it takes time, write because you want to, write for you, don’t worry about the comments. What I have found lately is how much I end up searching my own site looking for something that I wrote, a website I know I mentioned, or just to reflect on what I was thinking. I write as a way to store my thoughts, as a way to reflect on my practice and share with the larger community. If you decide to leave a comment great….if not I have my thoughts down to share with others if they ask.

Find your niche, find your purpose, and then just blog!