The self-promoting teacher. . .

Darren Draper over at Drape’s Takes has an interesting conversation going right now about whether or not teachers and edubloggers cross the line into undesirable self promotion of their own work in their blogs and in social networks like Twitter.  His central questions—which sparked a pretty strong conversation in the comment section—were:

  • When do a person’s advertisements (on various social networks) for activities they may be promoting become an undesirable display of self-promotion?
  • What are the rules of etiquette – if any – that might apply to the combination of educational blogging and Twitter use?

Being a blogger, teacher and social networking junkie myself, I had to jump in the conversation.  My initial thoughts had to do with intent.  I wrote:

This is a tough one, Darren. For me, it’s not about the quantity of self-promoting posts that one makes.

Instead, it’s about intent. Does the person self-promote simply to get people to see how brilliant they are, or is their intention to draw others into a conversation about their ideas.

In the initial “tweet,” intent may not be evident—but after following someone for a while, that becomes pretty clear. If a person never engages in dialogue with others….never links to others….never responds to others in their blog posts, then their self promotion is singular and isolated—-and offensive.

But if someone who is constantly engaging with others as an equal participant—-and sees the ideas of others as valuable enough to respond to in their own work, self promotion is nothing more than pointing friends to interesting thoughts.

I actually like when the people that I follow self promote their work in Twitter, primarily because I sometimes fail to catch up with them in my RSS feed. The immediacy of Twitter draws my attention and makes their post stand out from the crush that my feeds can become.

Do you think that the idea of “offensive self promotion” takes care of itself in the very act of “following?”

Do we simply “un-follow” those who’s level of self promotion bothers us or whose intent we question?

Better question: Is the standard for reasonable self promotion something that varies by reader?

But then I got to thinking that Darren’s concerns about self promotion seem to reflect a bigger trend towards equality in schools:

Actually, I’ve been thinking a ton more about your post in the past few hours (thanks for the cognitive dissonance!) and I had another interesting question:

Do you think the egalitarian tradition in education causes edubloggers to worry more about self promotion than people in other professions?

I know that in most every building where I’ve ever worked, the “top performers” were always considered outcasts by their peers. They were called “apple polishers” and shamed any time they earned recognition for doing something great.

Sometimes I wonder if the lack of a clear vision/picture of “excellence” in teaching makes it difficult for anyone to “stand out,” which by default means that self promotion is bad.

That’s one that I’ve got to role around a bit more in my head—-but I wonder if you’re on to something bigger than blogging. I wonder if our feelings towards self promotion via Twitter are really evidence of a broader trend towards “false equality” in teaching.

So what do you think?  Do we tend to frown on teachers who appear to “self-promote?”  Do teachers hold one another to a higher standard in the self-promotion department than other professionals would hold their peers?

Why?

If we are passionate about elevating teaching as a profession, should we begin to openly recognize excellence and push for more “horn-tooting” within our ranks?  Can we really argue that we’re a profession when we’re not willing to admit that some of us do this job better than others?

Interesting questions, huh?