Conversations from the Edge is a series of raw, honest and candid dialogues about education’s shifting learning landscape. Hosted by Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach, Will Richardson and our Advisory Board.

This is my response and reaction to Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach’s Unselfish Self Promotion posted on the PLP Network blog. Conceptually, I am in agreement with Sheryl.  I discussed similar ideas in a blog post entitled Every Educator Has a Story . . . Just Tell It.  Where I have have difficulties is in the language of self-promotion.  I begin with an excerpt of my original blog post and then discuss my thoughts regarding the language surrounding self-promotion.

Every Educator Has a Story . . . Just Tell It.

This is one of my favorite cartoons ever.

(Image provided by

The “punch” line is that every person on the planet has a story to tell.  I also know that every teacher story to tell.

Educators are doing amazing things with their learners in spite of (i.e., to show spite toward) the standards-based and accountability-driven movements. I’ve learned about so many exciting learning activities from educators who are publicizing their great projects via Twitter, Facebook, and Blogs.  I’ve read about global collaborations, interesting ways technology is being integrated into the classroom, kids making a difference in their communities, and great project-based learning.

This is my own call to action for educators to tell their stories of those rich and amazing things they are doing in their classrooms.

  • Write a blog.
  • Tweet about it.
  • Make photo essays and upload to a photo sharing site like Flickr.
  • Take some video footage and share it on YouTube, TeacherTube, or Vimeo.
  • Ask learner to blog about it.
  • Share on Facebook.
  • Give virtual presentations at conferences such as Global Education and K12 Online.
  • Ask local reporters to come to your classroom
  • Others? (Please add to list.)

If all educators publicized the accomplishments they had in their classrooms using technology, hands-on activities, global collaborations, project-based learning; then an informal qualitative research project would result.  When educators are asked to provide evidence of efficacy to administrators, parents, other educators, funding sources, they could share these success stories.  This aggregate would become the collective narrative – story of education of our times in the beginnings of the 21st century.

This fits, as I stated, conceptually with Sheryl’s views

I have to know about your good work to celebrate with you. I can’t depend on someone else telling me about it. It will take too long, it is too risky, and I’d rather hear it with your passion and knowledge than a watered down version from someone who might leave out the pieces that are most important to my learning (

Unselfish (Shameless) Self-Promotion

Sheryl’s title and theme of Unselfish Self Promotion revolve around the idea of self-promotion.  Self-promotion, in the eyes of many, including me, has negative connotations.  So to begin, I went to the dictionary to get a somewhat unbiased view . . . the act or practice of promoting one’s own interests, profile, etc. It is the practice of promoting one’s own interests.

The dictionary definition matches my own.  I believe that the power of words and language influence our attitudes, mindsets, and behaviors.  It follows, then, that the actions related to self-promotion are focused on a “me” mindset, “Look at me. Recognize, acknowledge, and admire what I am doing.”

As an active participant in social networks populated with educators, I have learned what to expect from the more active contributors.  Some I get excited about reading their thought-provoking blogs.  Others I know will share some new classroom strategies, and yet others will provide me with links to some new technologies.  Some, I have come to expect, will post a link that leads to something they have done or will do, or will lead to a post that talks about them.  Their own achievements are the focus of their call-outs.  When I see a tweet or Facebook post from them, I typically only make a passing glance.  These latter folks I call self-promoters.   Their social networking actions are geared toward their own personal accomplishments.

Do I have an aversion for the term “self-promoters” because I am a female or because I did not grow up with social media?  Will perceptions change due to social media and the idea of Me 2.0?  I am not sure.  But for now, I cannot engage in self-promotion to promote me, and cannot (will not?) have tolerance for those who promote his or her “self” as a regular part of their social networking.

As I’ve stated,  I agree with Sheryl that educators need to promote best practices, successes and failures in their learning environments, and noteworthy news that have the potential to advance the educational field.  Where I disagree is with the terminology used.  I do believe in promotion not self-promotion.  It is a subtle shift in language used, but in my mind, makes a world of difference in the resultant perceptions.

. . . so yes, I do think Sheryl’s rational for promoting the PLP Network is right on target:

Here is the thing: when I talk about PLP, I am not talking about me. I am talking about “we”. I am talking about all the amazing educators who are taking the concepts back to their schools/districts and doing amazing things — things I might never think of — that no one has thought of before.

If PLP is about enabling educators to become empowered and manage change in their schools, shouldn’t we be sharing the ideas, the vision, and the steps folks need to take to be successful (

I will make a pact with Sheryl to do what she recommends, but I cannot agree to call it self-promotion.  I will take the word “self” out of it and agree to promote the best practices, lessons learned, and successes earned by my colleagues and me.

Let’s make a pact to get over ourselves. If you are doing good work, if you have great ideas, if you have skills that could make a difference — Dance. Tell me. Tell us all. I, for one, promise to high-five, re-tweet and share with others so together we can leave education better than we found it.

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Jackie Gerstein

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