From Input to Output: Moving From A Content Consumer To A Content Producer
Necessity is the mother of invention. So many educators start producing content as part of a curation of their “best of” playlist for the next school year. Those of us who were teaching before the digital age were likely trained to never throw anything away! Those binders full of lesson plans have now turned into digital portfolios. This monumental culture shift combines the age old need to connect with other educators with the social pressure to build a “brand”. Suddenly we are all micro-influencers and everything we put out there says something about our philosophy, misson, work ethic and credibility.
Started From The Bottom
Like many others on Twitter, I came to it as an educator seeking to learn from other individuals in the profession, some in my area and some literally thousands of miles away. Twitter became this new world, this place where I could broaden my horizons, “see” into the educational worlds of others, and do so all from a laptop, tablet or cell phone. In essence, I had stumbled upon this thing called a “PLN”, and the rest is history.
If you’re a veteran of PLN’s, you’ve probably experienced those moments of excitement and academic euphoria, when the answers to pressing questions from colleagues were clear to you because your PLN had given you those very answers. It was perplexing to them, but was oh so simple to you - Thanks to your PLN! As someone whose graduate degree was an immersion in asynchronous learning, I’ve come to realize that as adults we love having information on demand and when we deem its value being most opportune.
In our homes we have Amazon, Hulu, YouTube, Roku, and more, all being devices and services designed to let us choose when, where, and how we’d like to open our minds to new horizons. This on demand experience is what makes Twitter such a paradigm shift for educators. When I started in the business, there was no “PD on Demand” model on a large scale for teachers. Personalized digital learning has become increasingly accessible and dynamic for students; it is only logical this successful interconnectivity is now embraced and sought by the adults, using the very tools provided to their students. Often one had to physically be present at a district-supported event, conference or other occasion, and that usually involved some degree of traveling whether for 30, 300 or 3,000 miles or more.
So maybe some (or all) of what I’ve shared has resonated with you, and you may wonder why anyone would want to know about your perspectives. Well, if you’ve ever been in that place of reflection, you’ve found the right blog. Take a moment to reflect on something we all know, but maybe don’t think about often. What’s that thing to reflect on? It’s the fact that we know ourselves, and we’re “with us” 24 hours/day everyday, so the way we see pedagogy, leadership, and human interaction is of course an integral part of our lives.
Those internal reflections that we might be inclined to take for granted within ourselves are the very things that have great power for others. What I had always seen as “normal” or “common knowledge” was something that others didn’t always have access to. At a certain point, I saw that I could add value to what my PLN brothers and sisters were “feeding” the community. I made the decision to tell my story, to lift others up, and most importantly to be a voice for the people.
That’s who I was when I had 15 followers, and that’s who I am today approaching many more than that. That is who I am. That is my voice. That is my heart. That is my brand as @TheWrightLeader. That is my mission and my vision. If you’re standing “on the sidelines” thinking that you too could make “some plays” for Team PLN, I say this to you, “Take action.” A special thanks to DisruptED TV for their unwavering faith, trust, and belief in me and our endeavors to reach people literally around the world. I’m humbled, honored, and eternally grateful. Let’s all go to the next level. The people are waiting on us.
I’m A Teacher, Should I Create?
LinkedIn is gaining ground for educators, job fairs are great, and resumes were good. But your online portfolio can be a powerful display of who you are as a teacher.
Others have argued that a blog is the new resume, and that holds some merit. Essentially, what you create online, whether a podcast, a blog, or any other medium can magnify your voice and help an employer determine whether you are an honest “fit” or merely a good interviewee.
One of the greatest limiting factors educators face is their own perception of leadership impact. Once teachers, no matter what their role, experience the humbling power of someone being helped in their practice by their idea, story or work, they quickly see that they have a lot to offer beyond the walls of their own school.
The shift from consumer to producer certainly comes from selfless place. However, offering content and finding a connection with those who share common roles and headspace can serve the giver too, combating the feelings of isolation that all too often appear in difficult times. Simply put, the act of producing is beneficial to the giver too.
Creating with Social
For many school leaders and teachers, creating is as much about networking and connecting as it is telling. This means we are constantly creating temporary content with others. Hashing out thoughts and revising our own thinking in real-time.
Where does this happen?
There are many great places to create on social media such as on blogs, forums, and Voxer.
Let’s narrow in on the fastest growing area for educators: Twitter. Conversations happen daily with people sharing their thoughts. You can create and share ideas with people you know and meet new folks along the way.
You can also dig deeper in Twitter chats. These are hashtags that allow you to focus on a topic and discuss with others. A few top chats include:
These can be great springboards. They will get you thinking and can be starters to creating your own blog post, podcast, or vlog.
About Personal Branding
When I started my blog, which wasn’t all that long ago, I started it for me and only me. I wanted to write down the reflections I was having as I began to move ahead with my career. It was important to me that I get these thoughts down. I didn’t really care that others might read it--including my prospective employers. I was not seeking out to change education or educational practices per se. All I was trying to do was find a place to catalog some ideas that I had along the way and provide myself with a way to remember the values and things I hold dear. But, here’s the thing: blogs, vlogs, and podcasts are meant to be shared.
Becoming a content producer, as is mentioned earlier, is about being selfless. We are here to help each other. We are here to listen and discuss and ruminate on the issues. We are called to action. We are called to identify when things aren’t right. We are called to bring to the forefront issues of inequity. We are tasked with doing what when can for student success.
My advice is not to worry so much about personal branding at least at the outset. Worry about losing valuable thoughts that may go by the wayside and could help you in the future. The rest will take care of itself. The edublog movement is an incredible one. The only thing keeping someone from joining it is themselves. Take a plunge. Have some fun. But, do it for yourself. You’ll be pleasantly surprised with how it turns out. I promise.
Andrea D. Chavez-Kopp: http://adkopp76.blogspot.com/
Matt Foster: https://mafost.com/
Lori Harvie: https://www.nohea.info/blog
Aubrey Patterson: https://www.nohea.info/blog
Cris Saldana: http://onestepedu.wordpress.com