In our last segment, we talked about the importance of building a brand as an educator. We know that a positive brand can effect how our students, colleagues and communities perceive us as teachers and our programs. So it’s essential that we have the tools for “brand-ucating” ourselves in the way that best represents who we are as educators. We need to use our educating brand to teach others our vision for teaching in the 21st century and what that actually looks like in our classrooms.
Start with a Sketch.
The first step in this process is figuring our exactly how you are different from the educator next door and what your unique style is as a teacher or administrator. From there, you need to create a list of all the ways you currently use to communicate this message. Do you send home a newsletter? If so, what’s in it? Is it digital or paper? Do you embrace technology? In what ways do you use technology as a teacher and in what ways do you expect students to use technology in and out of your classroom? You MUST do a deep dive into not only “who” you are but how you demonstrate that clearly. This also brings to light any gaps you might have in your current brand. You may think that you embrace technology, but you may be using very limited technological tools which don’t showcase that message.
Choose the Right Tools.
There are a variety of tools that you can use to help develop your brand. The key is to first know who you are and what you do and then figure out the best ways to make others feel good about interacting with that professional practices package. Here are some tools to get you started:
1. Develop a web-presence. Create a blog/website that shares what’s going on in your classroom, projects that are coming up, your classroom newsletter, and a place to highlight student work. This can be the easiest place to figure out your personal “style” and how you like to organize your professional practice. You can then translate your online home to your physical classroom or school by sticking with the choices you’ve placed on your site.
2. Create a logo. This sounds silly, but going through the logo process will help to define your vision and how you can communicate it quickly and visually. Both of these things are key in getting people to engage with you. You need to think about what kind of font you’d like to use (sans-serif or serif – aka: elementary or formal), what colors you’ll use to evoke an emotional reaction with your label, and a building a sense of creativity and excitement. Try playing around with the free online program Pixlr.com, which has tools similar to Photoshop but can be used without much of a learning curve. You can connect your logo with that of your school or district to make a more cohesive unit and communicate how you play on the team. Use your logo anywhere and everywhere: newsletters, web page, notes home, and even business cards you can give to parents on conference night.
3. Careful with color. Take the time to figure out what color scheme best demonstrates you as an educator. Warm colors evoke feelings of excitement, anxiousness, passion, and fast-paced movement. Cool colors evoke calm, deep-thinking, reflection, and empathy. Develop a color palette for your brand and use it consistently. Put it in your logo, use it in your stamps for student work, even use it to organize and set-up your classroom and bulletin boards. Remember: you are constantly showcasing your brand in everything that you do.
4. Online Tools. Choose online tools to help you in your quest to build your brand.
- Use vimeo or school tube to develop videos for students/community members.
- Begin to organize your ideas through Pinterest boards and Symbaloo webmixes.
- Engage in twitter chats with others who share your vision and can help you mold your brand as an educator.
- Use Mailchimp to send out your parent communications and setup the templates using your logo and color scheme. You can schedule these ahead of time and it gives you great feedback to see who opened up and read your notes.
Always keep looking!
Branding never stops and is constantly evolving. Once you begin to think about how you are branding yourself, always keep up with what others are doing and how you can make some additional choices that can bolster how you communicate with your stakeholders. To get you started, we’ve created a Pinterest Branding Board that we invite you to follow. When you find some new branding pieces you love, pin them so that we can add them to the board as well. Let’s keep marketing ourselves the best we can so that our ideas and messages build our learning communities and engage our students.