Building the “Connected Teacher” Brand

It’s good to be blogging again after the insanity that was end of term examinations and student reports. This post will be somewhat of a compilation although I’m certainly not ready as yet to release a “Best Of” or “Greatest Hits” collection. (Can you guess who attended a Blues Festival last week? Oh, and by the way Jimmy Cliff is still kicking it at 68. Only hope I’m as impressive fifteen years from now!)

In an online community which has started to utilise, whilst still debating, the term teacherpreneur, I have come to understand the need for “building a brand.” Whilst entrepreneurship and brand immediately summon up the idea of monetary gain, I can assure you I haven’t made a cent! Dave Orphal gives the following definition of a teacherpreneur as distinct from a teacher leader or an educational entrepreneur. (You might also want to use the link below to access Dave’s excellent Prezi on this idea.)

“These are part-time classroom teachers. This is the big idea — job sharing so that the traditionally non-teaching jobs associated with a school; the traditionally non-teaching role of ed-policy maker; the traditionally non-teacher role of researcher, staff developer, etc… can all be done by people still have a foot in the classroom.”

Having taught for over 30 years whilst holding a range of positions of added responsibility, this is the job I want now! Of course, I can’t see this happening in the real world; my school is highly unlikely to make me their resident teacherpreneur. So, I figure that the way to succeed is by building an online brand which is “legitimised” by the fact that I am still active in the classroom. The problem of course, is exactly how to construct my brand. I believe I have made the correct choices … so here are my “Four Cornerstones For Teacherpreneurs.”

1. Build A PLN: This Friday I will celebrate my first “Twirthday.” In that first year on Twitter I have accumulated 700 followers and have sent around 3300 tweets. Not a bad effort considering that I spent the first three or four months as a lurker. All of my followers are either teachers or companies involved in the field of education. Whilst I do occasionally tweet about films or books or music … I believe it is essential to be perceived by my PLN as someone who is excited about and heavily involved in education. I visit Twitter several times a day and ensure that I respond to all direct messages and mentions. I also consider it imperative to thank new followers for connecting and to promise to build a relationship of sharing with them.

2. Create Content: We certainly live in an age where creation has overtaken consumption. I emphasise this fact with my students and accept that I too must be a genuine creator of content. Obviously, this blog is one forum in which I can share what I am doing in class, what I believe and what I have “made.” It is also important to make your content available to the wider global market, to “put it out there.” Earlier this year, I created a Haiku Deck presentation entitled “The New Mindset” for colleagues at my school. (Yeah, I know I mention this at every opportunity!) I decided to put it online through the Haiku Deck gallery from where it has been picked up, tweeted about, pinned, embedded and shared. I am astonished that this presentation has now been downloaded over 6000 times and has garnered responses like this one. (Thanks, Matt.)

3. Seek and Accept Opportunities: I was pleasantly surprised when a random Twitter mention of owning a home in South Australia led to me being offered a guest post spot on Fractus Learning. (Nick Grantham, one of their principals, is an Australian!) Writing my contribution took a great deal of time but was well worth the effort, both personally and professionally. My post “You Can’t Adjust the Sails from an Armchair” was very well received and Fractus Learning offered me a “regular gig.” If you haven’t read my musings as yet, I would certainly welcome your feedback. 

I am also delighted, as I’ve no doubt mentioned more than once before, to have built an association with Haiku Deck. Becoming one of their International Gurus has secured the opportunity for me to present about the application at conferences later this year. For me, the best part of this will be having the opportunity to meet some of my tweeps in person for the first time.

4. Connect With Preservice Teachers: I am flattered (… and that’s definitely the right word) that I have connected with many preservice teachers as part of my PLN. I think that all educators, especially those with lots of classroom experience, have an obligation to give back to the profession. I have begun to share resources and ideas via Twitter with young (and not so young) student teachers at Flinders, USQ and ACU. I sincerely hope that they remember that you can be 53 and open to the “Winds of Change” in education. This post has almost devolved into self-love but I want to offer one final artefact before signing off. I relish the downloads and the positive feedback but this video from preservice teacher Jenni Brown (follow her on Twitter @jenbrown01) is most definitely the kind of reinforcement I enjoy the most. It lets me know I’m well on my way to attaining my desired teacherpreneurship. (Is that even a word?)

Jenni’s video on “How ICTs Can Promote Professional Development” is well worth viewing, even if her drawing of “The Connected Teacher” looks nothing like me. We would both welcome your feedback.

PS: For the period from April 5-April 20 inclusive, I will be travelling overseas with my Year 12 Ancient History students. We will be visiting Istanbul, Troy, Ephesus, Athens, Mycenae, Delphi and Olympia. I will be live blogging during the trip. These posts (which prove to parents that I haven’t lost their children!) may be of interest to my fellow History teachers and can be found at

10 thoughts on “Building the “Connected Teacher” Brand

  1. What an interesting concept. It seems as if I too may be on my way to becoming a teacherpreneur. I am so enjoying this journey and would recommend it to every teacher. Thank you, Simon for once again making me feel connected. Kerry
    PS I saw you recommend Haiku Deck and i am using it in my next presentation. Very simple to use.
    PPS safe travels!

    • Hi Kerry
      Forgive my tardy reply … but bags are packed and I’m trying to catch up before heading to the airport. Thank you for taking the time to comment; I’m glad that the post spoke to you. As for being connected, I have a greater connection with my Twitter PLN than with those I work with on a daily basis. Perhaps, as I saw earlier today, they are just “muggles.” I’ll be posting from my overseas trip with students on
      Bye for now

  2. Hi Simon, thanks for a truly inspiring post. I think teacherpreneur will be added to the Oxford Dictionary (although maybe not in our lifetime) the same way that ipod has been included. Although I am fairly new to the concept of teaching for learning and the many platforms of exposure that technology allows, so its nice to have someone with experience in the profession and indeed technology to support pre service teachers like myself through this process. I am inspired to do the same, and will hopefully have a similar impact. I look forward to reading more from your students and their trip abroad, and no doubt the Haiku Decks of that allow us to appreciate the journey as if we were right along side you.

    Kind Regards,

    • Hi Jenni
      just a quick reply … will be airport bound before too much longer! (YEAH!) Glad that you found some sense in “teacherpreneurship” as a concept. It is certainly my aim to go down this path. I’m sure you will inspire plenty … just keep building your PLN and on line “credibility” … students will quickly catch you out if you don’t! There will certainly be a Haiku Deck or two on the way. You may have seen that they’ve just secured $3,000,000 in funding to expand to Android and MAC/Windows. I will also be live blogging from the trip (largely to prove to parents that their children are still alive!) You will find this single-use blog at
      Take care

  3. Hi Simon,
    GREAT post! We always appreciate it when you mention us in your blog posts — thanks for your support and enthusiasm. Looking forward to seeing your next deck!
    Lisa from Team Haiku Deck

    • Hi there Lisa
      and an apology for the belated reply. As you may have picked up via Twitter, I have been overseas for two weeks with my Ancient History class touring Turkey and Greece. Rest assured that more than one Haiku Deck will soon emerge from that experience.
      kind regards
      Simon @connectedtchr

    • Hi Jenni
      and thanks for helping to spread the word about my “branding” ideas. I returned to Australia yesterday after two weeks in Turkey and Greece with my Senior Ancient History students. A blog post and a Haiku Deck or two will follow as soon as I recover! I have also been asked to write an article about the trip for the next edition of Australian Teacher magazine so stay tuned.
      Simon @connectedtchr

      • Hi Simon,
        I am so glad that you commented on our class blog, or I would not have had the opportunity to find this space. Although I am fairly new to the many platforms of exposure that technology allows, as a previous post has also suggested it is incredibly valuable to have someone with experience in the profession and indeed technology to support all teachers through this process. I know that this platform has enabled me to develop professionally in a way that I had not considered – linking with educators all across the world has been an enlightening experience. I am looking forward to reading more from you in the future.
        Lynsey Graham

        • Hello Lynsey
          You can thank Tom Barrett for directing me towards your class blog. Commenting on such blogs is something I like to do at least 3 or 4 times per month; it’s good to step outside of my own blog now and then. I certainly hope that you find some of my material (and tweets) of value. I am glad that we have now connected.

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