In the last three years, social media has reached new heights bringing millions of people to their mobile devices to look at pictures, share information, and either follow or become the influence. While many educators compete with social media for the attention of their students, one smart woman decided to join forces with social media to reach her students where they are. Her name is Racheal Burden and she believes that she can change her students in 180 days.
ET: Tell me about your career in education before starting 180 Days to Happy?
RB: I am currently a classroom teacher in a suburb of Atlanta, Ga. I have been teaching for 8 years and my first 6 were done as a Special Education Co-Teacher. I currently teach Business Technology to grades 6-8. I love this position because it gives me the opportunity to infuse two of my passions, technology and education.
ET: What inspired you to start 180 Days to Happy?
RB: I have always taught in low-income schools where we often give more of ourselves than can ever be given back. Over the years, I have seen teachers go through pay-cuts and increased class sizes along with other major revisions to our profession while never missing a beat. Unfortunately, although we press on our morale often sinks as a result. My blog was a labor of love after reading a book and thinking that if we could just focus on one area of our lives each month, we could see exponential growth over the course of a school year- 180 days. Over time it has evolved more into a place to share about my passion of technology and how important it is to use in our classroom. Although we may not believe it, social media is here to stay and can only add to our classrooms by creating experiences for students beyond our four walls.
In addition to being over-extended as an educator, Rachael is committed to creating time to being an entrepreneur, which comes with its own set of challenges. Rachael credits finding a planner system that works for you as being an essential element towards productivity. She also looks to other entrepreneurs with educational platforms to guide her journey.
ET: What is the most challenging parts about maintaining the blog and TpT store and what steps do you take to overcome that challenges?
RB: I recently heard Myleik Teele of Curlbox say something to the affect that you have to realize that your time is often worth more than the money you may spend to maintain your sanity. In other words, of course I could attempt to “do it all” but at what cost? We have to make small investments into your sanity if you’re going to attempt to be great at anything. For me, this means that I have been willing to pay for the convenience of certain services that make my life easier. Yes, there are late (late, late, late) nights but I have put certain things in place to help me be places when I can’t be and maintain my various ventures. Lastly, I am forever willing to learn. I don’t claim to be the expert on anything, but I know that I can be everything that I want to be..with some help! Don’t be afraid to ask for help and find webinars and tools outside of your niche that could possibly help you be better in yours.
All of those late nights have led Rachael to not only achieve her own dreams, but help a few others along the way. She says her proudest achievement is just knowing that people read her blog. “Because of my blog I have become more outgoing and courageous. Although my blog is a digital platform, it has given me a physical sense of pride and encouraged me to just go for it,” adds Racheal.
And going for it is exactly what she is doing. With no signs of slowing down, Racheal’s friends tease her about spreading herself too thin.
ET: You current run a thriving blog, are very active and consistent on social media and have recently decided to go back to school. What can we expect next from you Racheal?
RB: Over the next few years I really hope to speak and encourage other teachers to find their joy and passion, outside of the classroom. So many of my colleagues have forgotten who they are outside of the school day and we have to remember that we owe it to ourselves to make our dreams come true. I am a beacon of hope to my students, but I have to nurture my soul to continue shining bright. Along with that, I want to continue to share my passion of using technology to truly reach our students where they are and make school an experience they want more of.
For those eduprenuers looking to launch their own platform, Racheal offers the following advice:
DO. IT. The ability to succeed is unknown if you’re not doing anything.
I honestly never thought I could maintain a blog or sell a product on TPT, but I’ve done it. We have to learn to take the same advice we give our students. I heard Nicolas Provenzo aka The Nerdy Teacher say “Don’t ask them to do anything that you aren’t willing to do.”
Challenge yourself and take the steps to be just as amazing as you want them to be.
Find and follow Racheal at @180daystohappy on all social media networks and www.180daystohappy.com