Creating your Personal Brand

At day two of the #ADE2010 conference here in Singapore we focused our time on thinking about personal branding. Something that I believe all educators should think about and that I’ve discussed on this blog here, here and here. The presentation from Apple I believe was spot on in the fact that educators do not take enough time to pat themselves on the back, reflect, and think about themselves as a brand. Especially international teachers like myself who go recruiting ever 3 to 5 years and need to understand that their name and skills are their brand and can help them in getting hired. What I’m not sure on….and the verdict is still out…..is why Apple had us spend a whole day focusing on branding ourselves. What’s in it for them? The fact that you would have all these educators out there who have websites/brands and have ADE on their resume? I’m not clear on the overall outcome of why we spent a whole day on this at this point…so I’ll reserve judgment till later. Finding your niche I talked with a couple other ADErs today who were struggling with getting started with branding themselves. I found it interesting that while Apple employees were introducing the concept to us they never talked about niche markets or audiences. Yet I find it helpful to start thinking about what your brand is, what your voice is to first workout who you plan to brand yourself too. I talked with a high school history teacher who saw his audience as his students. Helping him to think about what it means to be an ADE and who that audience is he will be able to support, we narrowed it down to high school history teachers who are successfully integrating technology in their classrooms. Now that seems like a pretty small audience until you think about just how many history teachers there are in the world, and how many of those are looking for resources on the internet to help them teach their lessons….and you find your audience to brand yourself too (36 History Teachers on Twitter via wefollow.com). From there he could brainstorm what his brand might look like and design a website that was tailor make for that niche audience on the web today. Apple brought in Joseph Linaschke to help us brainstorm and think through our brands. An amazing photographer who...

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When to start teaching self branding

I was co-teaching earlier this week in a 7th grade environments class. The students were signing up for the wiki they were going to be using to do a project. One boy in the class created his username as: tommmmmmmmmmmmmmyyyyyyyyy!!!! Why? When do we start teaching students about self branding? I understand that part of this is a maturity issue, but when is the right time/age to start teaching students about self branding? You might be branding yourself without even knowing it. Just by using the same username on different websites you can start a brand. For example, I always try to use the username jutecht. Anywhere you go on the web I’m known as jutecht. Twitter, delicious, Diigo, etc, etc, etc. That is my brand. That is who I have become on the Internet and it’s the brand that is Jeff Utecht. It doesn’t have to be your name. Langwitches is a perfect example. Or how about Cool Cat Teacher. Both of these two self brands do not include the person’s name, but who that person is on the Internet. This would be a safe way to help student start their online name or online brand. Some digital savvy parents start branding their children early on. Dennis Harter and Chad Bates, my two colleagues, both set up gmail accounts for their kids when they were born. They have already started the brand that will be their kids when they are older (how will this change our schools when students star showing up with their own brands?). There is power in branding your classroom and getting students use to branding their thinking. I’m sure most of us would argue you start teaching this as soon as students start creating accounts online, and that this is just one piece of a larger picture that is Internet Safety, Digital Literacy, etc. One way to get to this…..to help students understand the importance of it, is to give them something to believe in, something to belong to. That’s what I love about Clarence Fisher’s classroom. Clarence created a brand for his classroom. A brand that lets the students know they belong to something bigger than themselves.  Within that the students become part of the classroom brand and take on a personal brand allows them to belong to something. Schools can also create the brand for the students. Taking the example from yesterday’s...

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