This is, perhaps, the most important topic of them all. By nature, many educators want to do it all or be involved in it all. We buy supplies for our classroom, food for our students. We attend our student’s games, recitals, and more. We eat together. We share together. We grow together. However, when it comes to a professional presence, we have to pick and choose. We cannot do it all. We need to share.
This year has been a year of learning for me. I left a district where I was involved in “it all” and was stressed out. And, I arrived at a school where I had to pave my own way. I had to figure out what my brand was.
I’m one to jump at the prospect of certifications. When Google began offering Google Certified Trainer statuses several years ago, I applied immediately. I continued to apply to every certification. I was everything and nothing all at once.
I was a Google Ninja. But, that meant nothing at my new school. It was then that I realized it wasn’t a brand. It was loyalty to a company (though, you can argue it is also a way of thinking). I was great at giving tutorials at products. And, perhaps my brand was simply that – giving tutorials – but I wanted it to be something more. Giving tutorials wasn’t the only reason I got into this field.
Throughout this year, I’ve thought about what makes me happy. What do I want to do in my free time? What do I get excited about? This should be my brand.
I have always loved creating. When I get stressed, I want to create. When I get home, I want to create. In the classroom, I oddly loved creating lesson plans. I enjoyed creating new project ideas for students.
I am a creator. I am a crafter.
This year, I increased my focus on makerspaces and started a maker program at my school. I realized that I am a crafter, but have plenty of room to grow in the area of high tech maker. I have been a repurposer.
In remembering my passion, I found room to grow. And, it became overwhelming. How could I be an expert at all things and still learn more in my passion field? I can’t. I don’t need to.
That’s where sharing comes in. We need to share intellectual wealth. As an educator, I need to focus on my passion and wear it with pride. I also need to let others wear their passion. I need to support them and encourage them. I need to use them as a resource.
So, what’s my brand? It’s a creative brand. Sometimes it involves using Google Apps to bring and foster creativity. At other times, it is found in creating renewable energy sources. The tool may vary, but the theme is the same: creativity. I also remind myself to focus on learning things in my passion area. Though I want to learn it all, I can’t. I can, however, wear my passion with pride.
To find your brand, you have to find your passion, your niche, your swagger, and your successes. They are all part of your brand.
My advice to educator-innovators – focus on your passion and wear it. Avoid getting involved in it all. Share the intellectual wealth. We need passionate educators far more than we need expert educators.
Your brand should be based on your passion. Own it.