Holy crap, this website is 10 years old!

Seriously. I’ve been blogging now for an entire decade. How did that even happen?

I’m glad you asked, because I want to tell you. Picture it: July 22, 2003. Not in Sicily but in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. I was sitting in my living room, doing what I always did in the evening: reading and posting on the Teachers.net message boards. The boards were a place for teachers to ask questions and share ideas, and I’d come there as a new teacher to figure out what the heck I was supposed to be doing.

There was a lot of stuff I didn’t know as a fairly new teacher, but I always had something to contribute when the discussion turned to procedures, routines, organization, and behavior management. The other teachers’ positive feedback was so rewarding, and it felt great to help fellow teachers by sharing what worked in my own classroom. I found that teachers were asking the same type of things over and over, and I was often repeating my responses. So on July 22, I decided to save myself some time and paste those responses into a few web pages, then just share the links with the teachers when they asked a related question.

And there it was. Ms Powell’s Management Ideas for Teachers was born.

The original mspowell site on free host

The site looked like this in fall of 2003 at its original domain, mspowell.freehost.com. I used a free web server and template which I think looked pretty decent for the time but makes me cringe now. Updating the pages was a nightmare and took for.ev.er. I had to teach myself HTML coding in order to format the pages. It was a skill I’m really glad I learned though, because I still use it daily.

I was one of very few teacher bloggers, period, but was also part of an even smaller minority of teachers who were taking pictures of their classrooms and uploading them to the internet. That was only possible because my school had a digital camera I borrowed: in my personal life, I was still using disposable cameras, so the digital picture thing was really, really, cool.

screenshotmspowell

By 2006, I’d added dozens and dozens of pages, and pretty much everything I knew about teaching was now online. I moved the site to its own domain (mspowell.com). I’d found a free dynamic button creator to make the sidebar menu so I no longer had to manually update each and every page’s menu bar whenever new pages were added, a process which took hours. I thought it was pretty fancy since the subpages appeared on mouseover.

All the web pages were static: there was no system for commenting or sharing, but I started a message board forum so teachers could share ideas that way. (Those message boards still exist, by the way, but subscribers use it mostly as a newsletter system to find out what’s new on the site twice a month, and they post questions in the blog comments or on social media now.)

Original Cornerstone For Teachers site

After I published The Cornerstone book in 2008, I moved from mspowell.com to TheCornerstoneForTeachers.com. I got engaged that same year and wanted use the URL AngelaWatson.com, but that was (and is) still taken by that actress who used to be on the sitcom Step By Step. (I always check her site out periodically–she’s had a “this website is under construction” notice up for at least five years, which kinda annoys me, because if you’re going to have the domain I want, you could at least be using it. However, I am extremely grateful that she has not opted to put adult pictures on the page or something else that might cause elderly teachers to have a heart attack after Googling me and clicking the first link.)

Anyway, I bought a fancy flash template for $79 and totally revamped the site. When you moused over each picture at the top, it would burst into full color. The site looked more professional but was still hard to update and would constantly do wonky things that I wasted hours trying to fix. After a year or so, I realized the flash template would be unusable on mobile devices which were apparently about to take over the world. I couldn’t imagine that very many people would want to read my website on those tiny Blackberry screens, but whatev. I heeded the advice and abandoned the flash ship.

I don’t think the site had any sharing buttons, which didn’t seem like a big deal at the time, but it also still didn’t have a way for people to comment, and that was a big deal. I started a separate Cornerstone blog on Blogspot since blogs had become a “thing” at that point, and  the whole commenting feature and subscriber feed was awesome. I was no longer “talking” to myself and could actually get feedback from people who were reading–it was amazing! The only problem: I was having to update the blog and the website, and most people only knew about one or the other. It was time to merge them.

Cornerstone website 2010

In 2010, I switched to self-hosted WordPress and have never looked back. I use the Thesis theme and love it. I can add and edit content easily, and visitors can comment and share the resources in one click. I imported the old blog content to the site and everything was in one place.

It was good timing, because I had also recently quit my teaching job and moved to New York to be with my husband, whom I married in June. I had also just started my own publishing company and republished my book, and begun doing instructional coaching and educational consulting full time. (If you have actually read this far into the post and are still enjoying my rambling, check out this post about my experiences navigating the NYC subway system alone for the first time in order to go on job interviews. I think you’ll like that, too.) So, yeah, a lot of really great changes professionally, and a lot of really great changes on the website.

Cornerstone for teachers website

Since then, there have been only minor tweaks to both the site and my work. In 2012, I added a professionally-created header, prominently featured social media options, and my two book babies in the sidebar! The current website looks pretty much the same, though I’ve cleaned up the sidebars and the home page quite a bit, and added more to the navigation menu. I can sense that the site is starting to look a little dated and I need to make some changes, but with so much else going on, I’d rather focus my energy on creating great content than a great-looking website. I’ll get to it eventually!

I’ve now published three books with a fourth in the works, and created a webinar series and a ton of printables. I still do instructional coaching and consulting when I can fit it in, but mostly, I’m still doing what I was doing at this time ten years ago: sitting at my computer screen, typing away, sharing my heart and my ideas with teachers. It’s what I love to do most, and I can’t imagine doing anything else.

So that’s (most of) my story. On Monday, the actual 10 year anniversary, I’m going to have a massive giveaway, so stay tuned for that. I don’t do a lot of blogiversary type stuff or yay-let’s-celebrate-follower-counts type of things, but I’m going to go ahead and milk this whole 10 year thing a bit more and share some of my favorite posts and resources from the past decade, too. You can hang in there for a little more me-monster time, right? After all, we’ve made it this far.

I would LOVE to hear from you all and find out how long have you been reading the site. Has anyone reading this post been following since the very beginning? When did you join the community here? What has changed for you over the past decade? Thank you, as always, for sharing and being a part of my little corner of the internet. This site has been a labor of love, and it touches me so much to know that others love it, as well. 

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Angela is a National Board Certified Teacher with 11 years of classroom experience and 7 years experience as an instructional coach. As founder of Due Season Press and Educational Services, she has created printable curriculum resources, 4 books, 3 online courses, the Truth for Teachers podcast, and The 40 Hour Teacher Workweek Club. Subscribe via email to get her best content sent to your inbox!

{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Marlene July 18, 2013 at 9:31 am

Angela I have been reading since you had the Ms Powell’s Management ideas site! Your site and books have helped me so much over these last few years. Now I follow you on the latest craze Bloglovin’ on my tablet since google reader is gone. Thanks for all the great tips and freebies you’ve had over the years!

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2 Angela Watson July 21, 2013 at 12:14 pm

Hi, Marlene! Thank you so much for sharing. I appreciate you being such a faithful reader!

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3 Rachel July 18, 2013 at 12:10 pm

I’ve probably been “following” you for the last 9 years!! I started teaching in 2004 and really struggled with classroom management in the beginning. So I’m sure I found your website through teachers.net because I would spend hours looking for ideas. Your insight was so helpful and part of the reason I think management is one of my strengths now! I’ve enjoyed following your journey and loved also finding a Christian educator to help me understand how the two went hand in hand! Happy Anniversary and here’s to 10 more fabulous years!!!!

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4 Angela Watson July 21, 2013 at 12:16 pm

I love that you found the site through Teachers.net, Rachel! You remember all those message board postings about classroom management issues! What a great support network that was…and still is, I think. I haven’t been on there in a long time but still refer people a lot.

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5 Stephanie July 18, 2013 at 3:42 pm

I can’t believe it has been that long! Congratulations on being in the blogging biz for so long :) I have been following you since basically the beginning. You won’t remember this, but when you used to give out teaching blog awards, you actually gave my classroom website one. It was called “Miss Raymer’s Classroom” (or something close) back then, and it was just a whole bunch of pictures and ideas from my class…but the recognition is something I never forgot. So thank you! Here is to another 10 years!
Stephanie

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6 Angela Watson July 21, 2013 at 12:17 pm

Aww, Stephanie, that is such a great memory! I had forgotten about those blog awards. There weren’t many of us sharing classroom photos back then and your site really stood out. How awesome that YOU are still blogging all these years later!!

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7 Rebecca July 18, 2013 at 4:20 pm

I remember graduating college in May 2005, landing my first teaching job-third grade- the following month, and then googling “third grade new teacher website”. Several sites directed me to your website and I began devouring every piece of information on your site over the next several days! There are many ideas I’ve implemented since my first year teaching and I’ve loved them all. This website has been my “go to” resource throughout the years and I always recommend it to other teachers. Thanks so much for the hard work you put into this resource!

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8 Angela Watson July 21, 2013 at 12:19 pm

Wow, Rebecca, thank you for taking the time to share that! I’m so glad the site has been helpful for you. And I’m glad to see that you are still in the classroom all these years later and still constantly learning, looking for new ideas, and sharing resources with others. That is something to be proud of!

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9 Glenda Dunson July 18, 2013 at 7:49 pm

I started following you in the beginning. I did not realize then that you had just started your site. I just knew I had struck gold with the amount of info you made available to me. I have spent hours pouring over the pages then and now. I can’t thank you enough. You are a blessing to teachers everywhere.

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10 Angela Watson July 21, 2013 at 12:19 pm

Thank you, Glenda, for those kind words, and for being such a great supporter to me in so many ways!

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11 Lindsey July 18, 2013 at 8:57 pm

I’ve been reading since about 2006! It’s always been one of my favorite teaching websites!

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12 Angela Watson July 21, 2013 at 12:20 pm

Thank you, Lindsey! I really appreciate that! :)

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13 Laurie July 19, 2013 at 12:27 am

I am not sure when I started following you, but love your inspiration. This post was really fun to look back on your journey.

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14 Angela Watson July 21, 2013 at 12:21 pm

Thanks, Laurie, I’m glad you enjoyed it. I’m sure for most people, this was a major skim-over kind of post, but I think it does mean something for those who have been along for the journey for awhile. I always like to read other blogger’s stories and enjoyed telling mine! Thanks for reading.

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15 Julie July 19, 2013 at 7:00 am

I found your site in 2011 when I was looking for info that would help me get through the NBCT process. I’ve been meaning to thank you. I passed the first time around, and I know a lot had to do with your writing tips. I would share a lot of your info at my cohort meetings, and would send teachers to your website. Congrats on your 10 year anniversary in the blogosphere, and thank you so much for helping me out!

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16 Angela Watson July 21, 2013 at 12:22 pm

Wow, Julie, congrats on certifying your first time! I’m so glad my NB writing tips helped with that. I learned so much as an assessor and I’m happy to share!

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17 Nancy July 19, 2013 at 7:25 am

I love your blog!! Your words and insights have helped me over and over again–thank you!
I do have one suggestion: why don’t you re-title today’s blog. There is only One who is holy, and it is not what you inadvertently used in your title.

Thank you for considering, and I hope God blesses you with many, many more years!

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18 Angela Watson July 21, 2013 at 12:24 pm

Hmm, maybe it was a tasteless title. I’m sorry if that offended, and I’m glad you understand that was not my intention, as you and I share the same faith. Thank you for being a loyal reader and for taking the time to comment!

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19 Amy July 20, 2013 at 10:30 pm

I’ve been following the blog and then the website since 2004!

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20 Angela Watson July 21, 2013 at 12:25 pm

That’s pretty much the beginning, Amy! Incredible. I’m always amazed by people who stick with blogs that long through a lot of changes. There are so many things competing for our time and attention, and it’s truly an honor to have someone continue to make time to read what I write. Thank you!

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21 Amelia July 22, 2013 at 3:36 pm

I’ve been following you since the beginning. I have always liked your posts/site and appreciate what you do to help fellow teachers. I can remember way back when you were asking for donations to help out with the site. I sent you a check (for 10 or 20 dollars) but I’d have given more if I’d had it! :) Kudos to you and keep up the great work! :)

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22 Amy July 24, 2013 at 10:42 pm

I’ve been reading since 2008 (I commented on your most recent post today that it’s been 4 years, but nope, it’s been 5!). I had foot surgery at the beginning of summer and was stuck for weeks in bed with my feet up. I finally had time to devote to exploring the internet for teaching resources. When I found your website (through Mandy Gregory’s website, which was also very inspiring– and I remember she said she wanted to be Ms. Powell when she grew up! 😉 ) it kept me captivated for hours and hours! I remember how exciting it was to see photos of real classrooms and I was soooo impressed by your obvious talents and capabilities. I also loved your devotions blog. And your books! I was thrilled when you published the first one! You have been a source of inspiration and encouragement to me for the past 5 years. Thank you so much for absolutely everything and congratulations, Angela!

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23 Karen F. July 27, 2013 at 10:06 am

Congrats on 10 years!!! I have been reading your blog (I subscribe too) for the last 2 years, which is how long I have been teaching!! I LOVE it and go back often to reread something that has helped me or to get some new ideas :-) Thank you for all that you post!!
Karen

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24 Sandi Fisher July 28, 2013 at 3:08 pm

I keep your book on my desktop as a reminder that I have learned so much from but still have a ways to go.
Love the monthly freebies!

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25 Summer Safrit August 2, 2013 at 12:15 am

I’ve been around since around 2005 and although I am no longer teaching, I’m still following along. Education will always be at the center of my heart and I think your blog is fantastic!!!

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