Dec 22, 2011

Should Teachers be Brands?

As a member of the Twitterverse and the edublog-o-sphere, I’m out there. My thoughts, ideas, questions and plans are made quite public.  People, most of whom I’ve never met, know how I approach my classes and may even understand the nature of an assignment better than some of my colleagues.  I’ve made a conscious decision to make my teaching public.

There are risks to it. I get that.

I’ve been wrestling with the nature of personal branding lately. Should teachers be brands? If so, where’s the line from establishing your personal brand in the building and in the greater community of educators?

And further, is the idea of marketing yourself as a teacher, as you would in other professions, essential as we move toward a more democratized system of learning?

On the other spectrum though, I wonder how much of Twitter, blogging and social media is about creating opportunities to self-promote and to fulfill my need to feel important?

By developing and honing our “digital footprint” we are taking an important step into writing our professional narrative, however, where does that end and self-serving ego stroking begin?

The ‘Mr. Kemp’ brand is built. People know that when I’m in a room and pedagogy is talked about I’ll challenge, I’ll question, some people think shit-disturb.  But how far should I push the brand mentality? If I’m aware of it, does it make it worse?

——–

A student walks into my classroom, a student I’ve never taught, and says, “What are you teaching next semester? I really want to be in your class.”

I ask, “Why? You might hate me. I’m very mean.”

“Nah, I know you’d be a great teacher.”

And my brand is real. It’s alive. In a small way, the teacher brand of ‘Mr. Kemp’ is influencing choice.

But I’m not sure how I feel about it.  I’m not sure whether I should be consciously creating, managing and considering my teacher brand. But don’t we naturally?

——–

Ultimately, I’m struggling with watching people on Twitter and the edublogosphere blatantly self-promote, while also believing you need to establish your reputation to have your ideas taken seriously. So where is the middle ground?

When having breakfast with some friends, I raise the question.  They tell me, “Authenticity is the key.”  (There’s that word again.)

“If you tell people you are great, they’ll see right through it. All you have to do is show people your greatness.”

Man, if only it was that simple.

2 Comments

  • Just be. Anything else is false.

    • I agree with the sentiment, however, I’m not sure I believe it is that simple.

      I think in the social media sphere in which we operate, reputation is a commodity. By understanding our social capital, we develop our networks, learning and otherwise. Being conscious of what is out there, how we are represented and our connections are supremely important.

      Corb, I think you’d agree that as educators on the edge we have a choice: do what we do and close the door, or keep a blog, tell the world and try to influence the system to move. As teachers engaged in social media we’ve made a choice to speak up and with that becomes the understanding that there is a message to manage (which in turn leads to the idea of teachers as a brand).

      It is not as simple as it once was, nor as it will be in the future as we democratize each and every classroom and students can choose from the best teachers in the world, who they want to learn from.

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