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By Tom Geller | Friday, October 24, 2014

Freelancers: Want Regular Pay? Consider a Retainer Agreement

A retainer agreement has its pros and cons

By Jethro Jones | Friday, October 24, 2014

Teachers: Prep Tips for Parent-Teacher Conferences

Make parent-teacher conferences easier

It’s that time of year. The leaves are changing, the air is cooling—and that means parent-teacher conferences are right around the corner.

Regardless of what format your school uses, parent-teacher conferences can be difficult when you have a student who’s struggling in one way or another; they’re hard for both the parent and the teacher.

Here are some tips to make sure conferences go smoothly for both parties.

Communicate early and often

If a student is struggling, be sure you bring up the issues with the parents before your conference. Communicating early allows conferences to serve as a check-in, rather than a surprise ambush from you about their struggling child.

Even if conferences are coming up soon, and you don’t think you have time to chat with parents, it will still be worth it to at least make a brief connection before conferences.

No surprises

Wherever possible, let parents see report cards or progress reports before you meet with them. That gives them time to think about what their child is missing, ask questions of their child (and you), and brainstorm ways to help.

Send a personal invitation to parents

When you take the time to invite parents personally, they recognize that you care for their child and that you want him or her to be successful.

A personal invitation also conveys that you want to work together as a team for their child. Parents don’t always know how to help their student and an invitation invites them to come ask you questions.

Wait! Before you secondary teachers get on me for suggesting you send a personal invitation to all 220 (or more) of your students, I’m not suggesting they all get invitations. Send personal invitations to those who really need them—those who likely will not come otherwise.

Have a plan and resources for every student

In a perfect world, you would have much more time to meet with parents of students who are struggling, and they would be the first at your door to get help for their child.

But that’s not always the case. Sometimes the kids who need the most help are the ones whose parents never show up for conferences.

As teachers, though, that can’t matter to us. We need to have a plan for every single student, and resources tailored to that specific student’s needs. Whether or not parents come, you’re still going to do your best as the teacher to help that child be successful.

Talk critically about data, compassionately about student

Parents love their children and want them to be successful. You can help them maintain a positive outlook by talking critically about student data and using student-first language. Provide some hope for the parents that their child can make the necessary gains.

But be compassionate towards the students themselves. It will be tempting to spend most of your time with the parents talking about where their child needs help, but be sure to consider and communicate the positive aspects of that child, as well.

Learn more

If a student is really struggling, you may need to up your communication game. Watch these free videos from the lynda.com course Having Difficult Conversations to turn tricky conversations into successful interactions:

Effective communication
Four phases of successful conversations
Clarifying your goal

For more help in the classroom, check out our full range of 60 Teacher Tools courses on lynda.com.


By David Blatner | Thursday, October 23, 2014

Delete Paragraphs Tabs — with InDesign Secrets


Macs and PCs aren’t typewriters! But people still add spaces or tabs to the beginning of paragraphs in their documents. Unfortunately, it then falls to you, the designer, to remove them for layout in InDesign.

By Carolyn E. Wright | Thursday, October 23, 2014

Please Release Me: When to Use a Model Release Form

A model release form is never a bad idea

Humans are among the most popular photographic subjects—of course. But when do you need a model release form before clicking the shutter or displaying those photos?

By Scott Erickson | Thursday, October 23, 2014

Key to Success for 'Book of Life' Director? Ignore the Word No

Book of Life movie still


It’s a word Jorge Gutierrez has heard many times in his career. But as we discovered in our documentary about him a few years back, he never let that stop him.

And today, after a 14 year struggle, his first feature-length animated film, “The Book of Life,” is in theaters everywhere.

By Todd Dewett | Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Stuck in a Creative Rut? Bust Out of Your Daily Routine


Here’s an odd truth: The very routines that make your day bearable are killing your creative capacity.

We all rely on thousands of daily routines to navigate our basic tasks: the order of our morning routines, the clothes we choose to wear, the place where we buy our morning coffee, the route we drive to work, the people with whom we eat lunch, and so on.

The result? Decreased creative thought. The more we rely on our automatic processes, the less we are actually thinking something through; there’s no real opportunity for new insight.

But you can change that.

By Ashley Kennedy | Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Beyond Pleasantville and Sin City: Secondary Color Correction


For newbies, the process of secondary color correction may be reduced to references to the movies Pleasantville or Sin City.

If you’ve seen those movies, you know what I mean; selective colors emerge dramatically from a mostly black-and-white world.

While this may be easiest to understand with such stark differences in color palette, secondary color correction is actually a great tool any time you want to perform color replacement—and most of the time, you’re dealing with much subtler adjustments.

What is secondary color correction?

Simply put, it’s when you isolate a range of color, saturation, and brightness values and make adjustments in only that range—with minimal or no effect on the remainder of the color spectrum.

In this week’s Video Post Tips Weekly tutorials, we’ll take a look at how to perform secondary color correction in both Premiere Pro and Final Cut Pro X.

By Mark Niemann-Ross | Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Code Clinic: Program a Musical Instrument


If you want to learn to program, you can’t do better than watching an expert coder at work.

Code Clinic is a series of courses from lynda.com that gives you a front-row seat to watch a panel of expert authors solve computer challenges—and this fourth Code Clinic challenge is deceptively simple:

Create a musical instrument using the mouse.

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