An Interview with Shelly Terrell

One of the true joys of being online and connecting with others are the others that you connect with.  One of these people is Shelly Sanchez Terrell.  We’ve never formally met but I’ve been following her learning and sharing for a long time.  Recently, she agreed to be interviewed for this blog.  It’s a great opportunity for me to ask her questions that I’ve always wondered about.


Doug:  Hi Shelly – thanks for agreeing to the interview.  These are always fun.  Normally, I start off by asking where we first met.  As noted above, we’ve never met face to face but certainly have interacted online.  Do you remember our first interactions?

Shelly: I believe we met on Twitter. However, I felt I connected more with you through Vicky Loras. I noticed she mentioned you a lot on her stream. From there, I read your blog and interviews and enjoyed your writing.

Doug:  Ah, Vicky.  She has connected me to a number of educators that I would have otherwise missed.  She’s my Zug/Europe/Entrepreneur connection!  You’ve got to love the online world for opportunities like that.  I’m looking forward to meeting her in person one day.

One of the things that has always impressed me is your 30 Goals Challenge,  Can you tell us a bit about these and how to get involved if someone was so inclined.  Sylvia Duckworth has captured it nicely in this Sketchnote.

Shelly: The 30 Goals Challenge is a community of teachers and educators from around the world who support each other in accomplishing 1 to 30 goals. When we accomplish goals, we post our reflections on our own blogs and share them as a status update in our Facebook community, or on Twitter using the hashtag, #30GoalsEdu. This community has existed since 2010 and each year we grow and add new members. It’s free to join and teachers can choose which and how many goals to accomplish from any of the years. New teachers step up each year to suggest goals.

Doug:  So, this project goes back to 2010.  I think this would be a terrific activity for Faculty of Education students.  What was your inspiration to start this and was it immediately successful?

Shelly: Each January, I accomplish personal goals. In 2010, it had been 8 months I had been blogging and I decided to try accomplishing my goals with the teachers I had met online and had been so supportive. It still is one of the best decisions I’ve made. Not only did I accomplish 30 goals as a teacher that year, but I kept being inspired by the teachers who decided to undergo that journey with me.

Doug:  You’re definitely one of the more active educators on social media.  Can you identify some high points you’ve had as a result?

Shelly: Each year, I get to travel to places around the world and meet teachers I’ve connected with online. I get to step into their classrooms, see them teach their students, work with them, meet their families, and celebrate their culture and cities with them. I’m incredibly blessed to have so many high points throughout the last 5 years.

Doug:  Over the summer, incident(s) inspired you to write this blog post.  Do you still have the same feelings about leaders?

Shelly: I have been traveling and attending many educator conferences for the last 5 years and I haven’t seen much change as far as diversity in keynotes and who is mentioned in top lists, etc. I don’t see many females or those of diversity get to share as lead voices and it disturbs me. I believe many leaders in the limelight now aren’t being supportive enough and recommending new voices. I also believe that many in the limelight don’t hold ed leaders up to a standard. The leader in question here is still shared, recommended, and given major educational awards even when this person has continuously plagiarized, cut off watermarks, and so forth. There are other leaders who have been known to take advantage of females and others who have stolen credit from others for ideas they didn’t come up with. I know many leaders who support the same people even after knowing the truth. I wish more leaders would see how important it is to allow various voices with integrity lead teachers, but not enough are brave enough to do that as far as I can see. Recently, I collaborated with Rusul Alrubail, Michael Benavides, Dr. Will Deyamport, William Jeffery, Valerie Lewis, Jaison Oliver, and Sarah Thomas) to come up with which is a database free for any teacher to setup a profile and conferences to search.

Doug:  Thank you for giving these people a shout out.  I have crossed paths online with a few of them and started to follow the group last night.

On your website, you’ve indicated that you’ve led workshops in 20 different countries, including Australia and now I understand Venezuela is on your radar.  On that page, a comment from a visitor is in Spanish so I’ve got to know – with all your traveling – how many different languages do you speak?

Shelly: I can understand what people say at least at a basic level in over 10 languages. I also know how to read and speak in Spanish, German, and other languages. Unfortunately, I am terrible with accents and people don’t understand all I say verbally. I love playing a game with myself in the airport where I try to guess the language of the people around me and I’m correct a majority of the time.

Doug:  Your blog and your resources are in English.  Is that the reality of being online and a choice that you’ve made for your connections?

Shelly: I don’t feel comfortable writing in Spanish and I did learn English in school and how to express myself in English. One of the first books I wrote was of Spanish poems.

Doug:  Another of the spectacular resources that you make available online are the Survival Tips.  What’s the story behind them?

Shelly: I have created over 200 presentations and I do so much research when creating these presentations. I finally decided to place the best ones in one area on my blog so when I present on those topics, I could easily update them.

Doug:  You’re quite heavily vested in the Google world with your resources and comments.  Have you experimented with Office 365?

Shelly: I had a Windows laptop for nearly 20 years and each year it was the one that I would replace. I finally bought a Macbook and it has lasted me for years. It has also been a support for my creativity and travel. The great thing about Google is it can function on any device and I can login on whatever device. With my Macbook and Google I won’t ever want to go anywhere else, because there is no need to fix what is not broken.

Doug:  Even with all your traveling, you call home San Antonio, one of my favourite places.  I love the Riverwalk and the Alamo.  Do people that live in San Antonio appreciate them as much as we tourists?

Shelly: San Antonio is one of the top tourist destinations in the US and the locals I think love having people visit from around the world. I believe the people here are some of the nicest in the world and often will wave hi and smile. I think they do appreciate the culture and other special venues maybe tourists don’t visit as much.

Doug:  Rosco the Pug is featured nicely in many pictures with you.  There must be a Rosco story that you can share.

Shelly: There are thousands of Rosco stories I can share, because he’s my baby. I guess our pet kiddos become a part of us. I will say that when I leave or come back, he often jumps into my suitcase and nestles in my clothes.

Doug: I’ve never noticed but I need to ask – have you ever presented in Canada?  Any time you’ll be up here in the future?

Shelly: Actually, one of the first conferences I ever keynoted for teachers was in Toronto thanks to Tyson Seburn and TESL Toronto. I’m excited to announce that I will be visiting Vancouver, Canada again in April to keynote for a conference.

Doug:  Thank you so much for the interview, Shelly.  I hope that you keep sharing your expertise; you offer so much.  And, good luck in Vancouver.  It’s a beautiful destination.

You can follow Shelly on Twitter at:  @ShellTerrell , her blog at and her book “The 30 Goals Challenge for Teachers” can be ordered through her website.


7 thoughts on “An Interview with Shelly Terrell

  1. Hi Doug and Shelly!

    What a great interview – I admire you both so much! I have been very fortunate to meet Shelly in person multiple times, and she is so lovely and one of the most hard-working people I have ever met. Unfortunately, I haven’t met Doug yet – I hope to and soon!

    Thank you so so much for the mention, Shelly! I am happy we have all connected. I am very grateful for everything I learn from you both : )


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