Should teachers be ashamed when they promote their work?

Blogger’s Note:  This has the potential to be an uncomfortable conversation, y’all, and I’m not sure that my thoughts are completely polished yet.  Hope you will respect this for what it is: Transparent first-draft reflection on a topic that I think has real implications for our profession. 

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A few weeks back, I wrote a bit here on the Radical promoting my newest book – Making Teamwork Meaningful — that was cross-posted on the Center for Teaching Quality’s TransformED blog.

In it, I shared the reasons why I think Making Teamwork Meaningful is a worthwhile read, I pointed to the collection of free resources from the book that are posted online, and I posted a series of recommendations from peers who had reviewed it in advance.

An anonymous reader of the TransformED post questioned my decision to advertize the release of MTM, writing:

Having read so many of your worthwhile posts, I am disappointed that this is merely a promotion of your new book.

I knew it was coming and would have been interested in a simple announcement that it is now available. You have, however, gone over the top here.

You have taken advantage of a great blog for self-prmotuion. For shame.

As a guy who is trying to build a bit of a career beyond the classroom — something that I can turn to during the two months a year that I’m not working with students — Anonymous’s take has challenged me to think about who I am as a professional AND who where we are as a profession.

The simple truth is that — like a lot of other classroom teachers — I need a part time job in order to make ends meet around my house.  But instead of pumping gas or stocking shelves at the Piggly Wiggly, I’ve decided to try to sell what I know.

And while I’m constantly giving away content for free (see here, here, here and here for starters), I’m also hoping that interested audiences might actually buy my books, come to my workshops or hire me for onsite professional development with their faculties.

I won’t hide it: I really DO want people who stumble across my content to see me as a potential expert worth investing in.

But maybe that’s a truth best left unsaid in our profession?

Has wanting to profit off of our expertise inadvertently become the ultimate betrayal in a service-driven field where sacrifice has long been the criteria used for identifying the heroes in our hallways?

And if so, what are the consequences for our standing as professionals?

Isn’t it possible that one of the reasons people beyond the classroom don’t respect the knowledge and skills of classroom teachers is because we so often refuse to publicly lay claim to the title of “educational expert?”

Maybe I’m over-reacting — or maybe I’m just a paranoid curmudgeon — but I really do see every post that I write and every bit of content that I create as a digital haymaker in my own personal fight to defend practicing teachers as professionals.

The way I see it, we can’t afford to hide what we know anymore because every time we hide what we know, our critics feel justified in questioning just how valuable we really are.

Almost 20 years ago, my mom and dad gave me a plaque that still hangs in my classroom.  It reads:

A hundred years from now, it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of home I lived in, or the kind of car I drove; What will matter is that the world will be different because I was important in the life of a child.

Those words resonate with me simply because the handful of very human moments when I know without a doubt that I’ve made a meaningful and lasting difference in the life of one of my students really DO mean WAY more than the cash that I pull in on quarterly royalty checks from my publisher.

But I guess I’m just worried that the “sacrifice-with-a-smile” attitude we’ve built into a professional mythology over the past 100 years is simultaneously cheapening our field in the eyes of our critics AND chasing our most talented practitioners out of our classrooms. 

Any of this make sense?

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