Instructor Tips: Kimberly Dunbar — Instagram for Beginners

InstagramToday’s Instructor Tips come from Kimberly Dunbar, an ESL teacher at Hillside Elementary and avid Instagram user. She has used the app for six years and learned what makes a great Instagram photo. Her LEARNwest class on Instagram is from 6:30–8:30 p.m. on Feb. 19.

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Five Tips for Exploring Instagram

  1. Use Instagram to share photos with family and friends. Let them know you have started using the app and what your handle is.
  2. Apply effects or filters on Instagram to easily edit your photos. It’s an easy way to make a photo look its best.
  3. Keep lighting in mind when taking photos. Effects and filters can only change a too-bright or too-dark photo so much.
  4. Make sure to use hashtags! It can be a fun way to describe your photos.
  5. Remember to follow people on Instagram too. You can find family members, friends, and even celebrities and businesses!

One bonus tip is to look for other apps that work with Instagram once you get familiar with using it. Certain apps let you put your Instagram photos into collages, “regram” other people’s photos, or even print photos you like so you can have a physical copy! To get a more in-depth instructional on Instagram, sign up for the Instagram workshop here.

Instructor Tips: Steve Alexander — Photography Fundamentals

written by Alexandra Wade

Steve Alexander

Steve Alexander, owner of Alexander’s Photo.

Steve Alexander is the owner and operator of Alexander’s Photo in Historic Valley Junction. He noticed it was difficult to find practical, realistic, and experienced instruction in photography. He is trying to address that need with short and intensive courses for today’s aspiring photographers, especially those who cannot afford the time or expense of an extended curriculum. Alexander loves to see people learn, grow, and be inspired to go beyond their prior limits. He especially appreciates helping students achieve their own “light bulb” moments of understanding. Alexander can be contacted on Facebook or the Alexander’s Photo website:


Steve Alexander’s Five Photography Tips

  1. The fundamentals of photography are employed for EVERY photo taken—whether the photographer makes those choices or the camera defaults to a pre-programmed response. Since the camera does not care about your photos, it’s better that you learn at least the basics and create your own images intentionally.
  2. Your add-on flash attachment is the second-most important piece of photo gear in your bag. You need to own one, and know how and when to use it.
  3. A seasonal tip: Protect camera gear from condensing moisture when moving from cold temperatures outside to warmer temperatures inside. The best way to protect your gear is putting it in a camera bag, or covering it with a cloth or paper bag, until it is room temperature again. Moving from warm to cold temperatures does not have the same condensation risks, but battery life may be limited in below freezing weather.
  4. Buy local and face-to-face! Photography requires skills and techniques, in addition to talent and opportunity. Buying equipment and accessories in department stores or online offers no additional support or instructions for how to get the most out of a camera. Local dealers will go out of their way to help you because they benefit from your success as well. They should put your needs first and help each customer select the best equipment for them.
  5.  Information and knowledge are the most valuable elements to learning to be a better photographer. Be curious, ask questions, take a Community Ed. class, and PRACTICE!

 Watch for more instructor tips every month on the Community Education blog!

Instructor Tips: Jamie Evans — Using Twitter

written by Alexandra Wade

evansjWDMCS Community Education’s very own Jamie Evans, Communications Specialist and District Webmaster, offered up these Twitter tips for our third Instructor Tips post. On top of her Community Education duties, Evans teaches LEARNwest classes on social media platforms like LinkedIn, WordPress, and of course, Twitter. She likes to start her Twitter classes out with this quote from David Roberts: “If writing a blog post is like sitting in a bar with a friend, Twitter is like standing around at a cocktail party.”


Jamie Evans’ Top Ten Tips for Using Twitter

  1. Don’t be afraid to get out there and start tweeting. Twitter is a fun way to gather the news and information that’s important to you quickly.
  2. Just getting started on Twitter? Begin your journey by finding and following other interesting Twitter accounts. Look for business you love, people you know, celebrities, or news stations.
  3. One great way to find more interesting people to follow is to see who those you know or admire are following.
  4. Don’t forget to listen first. Build your voice by retweeting and replying to others.
  5. The best way to gain followers on Twitter is to regularly engage and contribute in a significant way.
  6. Start new conversations by mentioning people using their Twitter handles.
  7. Don’t use more than two hashtags per tweet—it can be annoying to see a tweet that’s only hashtags.
  8. Once you are comfortable with Twitter basics, consider using lists, direct messages and favorites.
  9. Favoriting a tweet not only lets the originator know that you liked their tweet but gives you a chance to save the tweet to read later (if it links to a longer article).
  10. Last but not least, be sure to follow Community Ed. on Twitter @wdmcscomed!

Look for more instructor tips on the WDMCS Community Ed. blog during the third week of every month!


Instructor Tips: Sarah Noll-Wilson — Mindfulness

written by Alexandra Wade

Sarah Noll-Wilson

Sarah Noll-Wilson, ARAG Talent Development Business Partner

Our second round of instructor tips comes from Sarah Noll-Wilson. Noll-Wilson is deeply passionate about helping individuals and teams become their best. She creates meaningful learning and development experiences for ARAG as their Talent Development Business Partner. She holds a master’s degree from Drake University specializing in Adult Learning and Organizational Performance. She is an adjunct professor at Drake University and a guest lecturer at University of Northern Iowa. According to her husband, she is “prone to inspiration.” Noll-Wilson will be teaching the “Mindless or Mindful?: Let’s Explore Mindfulness” LEARNwest class from 6:30–8 p.m. on Tuesdays, Nov. 4–25.



Sarah Noll-Wilson’s Three Simple Tips to Help You Increase Your Mindfulness

1. When in doubt, breathe. A simple activity that calms mind and lowers stress is to take a slow, purposeful breath. When we take a moment to focus on something like our breath, a signal is sent to our brain to calm down and relax. Then, it helps our mind begin to settle. If it helps, inhale for a count of 3 and exhale for a count of 3.

2. Don’t forget to S.T.O.P. When your mind is racing with stress or you want to connect with the present, remember the acronym S.T.O.P.

    • S—Stop what you are doing. Create a moment of pause. You might consider practicing this at specific times: when you first wake up, after lunch, sitting at a stop light, etc.
    • T—Take a breath. Just breathe and make your breath your focus. This is not about deep breathing, but rather about paying attention to breathing as a way to focus the mind.
    • O—Observe your thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations. Investigate and observe what is happening in the moment. What thoughts are arising? How are they impacting your emotions or physical sensations? Can you notice how thoughts, feelings, and sensations are not permanent?  If you are struggling, naming your emotions and thoughts—”That’s a worry thought”—can have a calming effect.
    • P—Proceed with something productive and supportive in the moment. It may be leaning into an emotion, taking a walk, or talking with a friend.

3. Savor the moment or the meal. A great way to practice mindfulness is when we are engaged in an activity we can do in our sleep, like eating, cleaning, brushing, showering, etc. Pick one activity and see if you can savor the moment by connecting with all of your senses. What are you seeing, hearing, feeling, smelling, tasting? How does this activity make you feel? What do you notice in your body? Try to discover something new about the task at hand.

Watch the Community Education blog for more instructor tips during the third week of every month.

Instructor Tips: Debbie Marshall — First Impressions

written by Alexandra Wade

For our first Instructor Tips post, we invited Debbie Marshall, owner and founder of Thrive Coaching and Consulting, to give us a few tips about first impressions. Marshall will be teaching the “Does Your Appearance Make a First Impression Before You Do?” LEARNwest class from 6:30—8:30 on Thursday, Oct. 16., in Indian Hills Junior High Room 1218.

Debbie Marshall, founder and owner of Thrive Coaching and Consulting

Debbie Marshall, founder and owner of Thrive Coaching and Consulting

Debbie Marshall’s Tips on First Impressions

Make a Positive Impression
First impressions are made in seven seconds. If your first impression does not convey polished, confident and successful, anything you say after that is impacted in a negative way.

Don’t Ignore Your Appearance
Ignoring our appearance minimizes the efforts we put into the other parts of our life. If we work hard to get a degree, spend time training and improving our skills and knowledge, or getting fit, it’s counterproductive to ignore our appearance.

Look Good to Feel Good
There is no doubt that when we look good, we feel good. When our clothes are too tight, too baggy, outdated, or inappropriate to the situation we’re in, we tend to shrink, hide, not speak up and reflect low self esteem.

Did you like these quick and effective instructor tips? Watch for more Instructor Tips posts, the third week of every month.