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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.



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