I have always had it in my head that it is important to make it clear to my peers, administrators, students and their parents who I am as an educator. Back then, I was driven by my need to do things differently and differentiate myself among my peers. My ideas of being unique and special caused me to try to come up with methodologies and approaches that would consistently work for me. But the reality is that there are SO many teachers who actually do that.
There are so many teachers who are doing such an awesome job because of their unique set of abilities and/or their abilities to apply conventional things in a new way. But to the masses who are not with us in the classroom, no one (other than perhaps the teachers at your school and your principal and/or administrator) really knows what you are doing and how you approach the art and science of teaching. So wouldn't it make sense for a teacher to create his/her own "brand" of teaching? We do it anyway within our schools (by way of our reputation), so why not take it to the next level?
In an age where the internet is king, we need to realize that our online presence is already a brand by default. People use your Instagram, Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, Pinterest, and any other social media account to form opinions about who you are as a person. As an educator, I believe that we can use these resources as well as a thoughtful constructed website to help build our professional brand. In fact, by the looks of things, it seems that the educators that will survive in the future are the ones who have built their brand enough to have leverage with current or potential employers. So let's explore my top 8 reasons why teachers should consider branding themselves.
You get to share your ideas with others. It is through the sharing of methods and ideas that improves not only the teacher, but the entire profession. We all have something we do that works well. Why not share?
You are constantly in a state of self-reflection. Having to engage with others and seeing what other people do causes you to reflect on your own teaching methods more consistently to consider what works for you. You are better able to hone your "teacher brand" because the self-reflection almost always leads to self-discovery!
You are engaging with your stakeholders. You get a chance to show the people that matters the most who you are! In the past the only way a community member or parent could know teachers is basically through parent conferences and school functions. Now, with an online presence, community members can engage with the teachers of their schools.
You are globally connecting with others who share your passion for teaching. This Twitter phenomenon is a GREAT resource for staying in touch with educators all over the world. I have learned so much about teaching and have gotten so many new ideas just because I chose to engage via twitter.
You are building an online portfolio. You are creating a body of work that will showcase who you are and what you do as an educator. This will in turn increase your value to your current or potential employer.
You become the captain of your own ship. Think about it. How much leverage do you think you will have if you are able to showcase your abilities as well as control the messaging that people receive about you? The answer is PLENTY!
Your employability may depend on it. With this new shift of education towards technology-based curricula and engagement, your employability may very well depend on your ability to utilize technology in a more meaningful and innovative way.
Your students will appreciate it! My favorite teachers in high school were the ones that I felt that I felt a connection to. Of course, I only go to know them by how they acting within the classroom. But how cool would it have been to be able to see how my teachers behaved outside of class? For some reason, I didn't even think any of my teachers having a life. I couldn't even imagine any of them going out to eat or going to beach or even going to the mall. Having an online presence will definitely humanize you a bit more to your students, especially if you aren't afraid to show a little personality.
Horace Buddoo is an educator, educational consultant, master teacher, speaker, TEDx curator, managing editor of EDUTAKE and the host of the EDUTAKE podcast.