Skip to main content

(Insert logo here)

I'm an Idaho-sized Edulebrity, and I think I'm uncomfortable with it.

This week, I'm presenting at and attending a large conference. People are recognizing me from other state or regional conferences I've presented at. I've reached a thousand followers on Twitter. (which feels like an insane amount) This tweet happened:
I'm completely flummoxed. Not because I don't think I have great things to say - I mean, let's be honest, I'd totally follow me - but because I'm not *doing* anything to get noticed. Yes. I'm active on Twitter. Yes. I blog pretty consistently about things happening both in my classroom and my real, human life. Yes. I present at conferences in memorable ways with useful content.

But I'm not doing that because I want to get picked up by a publisher or (sweet Cheez-its, no) be considered a "Thought Leader." I'm not out hustling and promoting my brand.

Enter this morning's keynote. The author of BrandED, Eric Sheninger, spoke about branding. What is your school's brand? How do you want your school to be viewed? What is the story you're telling? How do you tell your school's story on social media?

None of those sound like bad things, right? In fact, most teachers I know share about the awesome things they're doing in their classrooms already. They may not have a huge reach, but they're telling the story of their classroom and school. I'm not convinced they need to think about how they project themselves to the world.

"But Sarah, " you say, "that's very naive. If you don't control what others see, others will decide how you're seen."

To that, I say branding - a carefully curated narrative of what you present to people - doesn't promote honest conversations. If someone is seeing you incorrectly, wouldn't it be more powerful and beneficial to have a conversation with that person? To learn about why they view you the way they do? And then maybe to help them see what you really meant?

We can't deny that branding is powerful. We look at logos and immediately know what product they represent, and what thoughts we have about what they're selling. We look at particular hashtags or people on EduTwitter, and we "know who they are." But do we? Have we asked them? Have we made a decision on our own, or are we buying what they've planned to sell us?

We're not "selling" anything. I know, I know, we sell knowledge. We sell empowerment through educational opportunities. No. We don't. Our students and communities are not consumers, and we do not need to treat them as such. Education isn't a business and though I understand people's need to look at something they don't understand through the lens of what they do, I cannot accept that what is "good business" transfers to good education.

Personally, I'm going to continue tweeting and blogging in the same way, because I'm convinced if you asked colleagues or students, they'd probably be able to identify a "Mrs. Windisch" brand. I guess I already have one, but you're not seeing a curated me.

And it seems I can be a (small time) Edulebrity just the same.

Want to listen to my thoughts that inspired this post?


Popular posts from this blog

An Open Letter to Mark Barnes

Dear Mr. Barnes,

You are a bully. I know that in your recent blog post, you equated Doug Robertson to “the popular student” who gets others to yell without thinking about intent, but sir, that’s you. You have nearly 10 times the followers as Doug, and yet you continue to insist that you, head of a publishing company and former administrator, and Danny Steele, a principal, again with twice as many followers as Doug, are the outsiders in this situation. That you two are personally being attacked by a “poisonous” leader of a “mob” of thoughtless lemmings.

I take exception to this in many ways, but first, let’s explore why I italicized followers. Because, Mark, that’s what you see people as. You look at this number on social media and see yourself as a leader and all of us as followers. I don’t follow Doug Robertson, I am his friend. I’m lucky enough to know him and his family in real life: we’ve eaten meals together, I’ve played with his kids, and stayed in his spare room. He’s a generous …

Are we there yet?

My kids are really not ready for their band concert today. In fact, for the first time ever, I wanted to cancel a concert. I explained it in a way that I thought would make sense: This is my assessment, and in a grade-level classroom, if students aren't ready for the assessment, you push it back and review. I hoped it would be relatable (and honestly, sound better than, "These kids are really bad at this still and I don't want them to be discouraged/embarrassed/start to hate making music, oh, and this is not the level of performance I want associated with me because I'm a professional musician with standards."

Long story short, we're still having a concert today.

But here's the rub - because I am a professional musician with standards of performance I hold myself to, and because I want these kids to love making music, no one will know that they're not ready. No one will know that I cried in my classroom when I was told that we couldn't cancel the…

THAT kid

My kid just spent the day in in-school suspension.

I mean, I guess it's called "the quiet room" but let's call that spade a spade, shall we? And while we're calling things as they are, my son is a bully. He's the mean kid. He's hurting others physically and with words. And I'm not whether he knows how what he's doing is wrong or whether he just doesn't care.

Either way.

I could make a list of things that could be reasons excuses: he's young for his class but huge for his age. He's a super silly kid who is also very imaginative. He's gifted. He's got terrible impulse control. He's an only child. He's bright enough to be experimenting with sarcasm. Maybe he's a bit of a misanthrope like his mother. In any case, he's apparently gone from "big clumsy puppy" to "bad, bad dog" rather quickly.

I have no idea how to handle this.

Mom-Sarah: Dude. you're in so much trouble. You're grounded for t…