Episode #45: Understand Your Teacher Brand

Podcast Transcription

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Amber Harper: You are a leader.Therefore you have control over you,  your brand and sort of the atmosphere of your classroom no matter what’s going on outside of it. You do control the culture. 

I am so grateful that you are here with me today. I know your time and your brain space is so precious. So thank you! Thank you! Thank you! From the bottom of my heart for joining me today. 

Every single day when I get up and I go to work no matter when it is. If its here in my home office, if I’m working at a school, if I’m leading a workshop, If I’m working one on one with one of my coaching plans or I’m working within my Facebook Communities for the out the door by four or Burned-In Teacher tribe. You are who I always come back to, so if you ever rethink to yourself, no one ever pays attention to me or I’m invisible. I see you. I’m here for you. This entire podcast was created with you in mind. I know what it's like to be on that stage 0 burnout. Feeling so isolated and frustrated with your situation. Not knowing why you’re  doing what you’re doing and where you wanna go. So if you haven’t joined the Burned-In Teacher Facebook Community it’s totally free. You’ve gotta come join us. Go to facebook.com/groups/burnedinteacher and request to join. There are hundreds of teachers there ready and willing to serve you  and help you if you go in with a mindset of seeking support,sharing your story, and keeping an open mind for all of the possibilities that you have to change your situation and get out of that burnout. You are going to thrive in this community and therefore thrive outside of the community in your everyday work that  is so extremely important. If we have not met before my name is Amber Harper I’m the creator of this podcast and I taught for 12 years in the classroom, full-time and eventually after I started burnedinteacher.com I had to make a choice. So, if you haven’t heard my story definitely go back to episode 0 and episode 1 and listen to “Why it is that I started Burned-In Teacher in the first place? And why it is that I had to eventually choose to continue Burned-In Teacher or leave burned-in teacher behind and continue teaching in the classroom. It ultimately came down to me having to make a choice. I had to respect what I was saying to teachers about balance and harmony, And family and quality time living this life that we should love. Not one that we should just get through to the end of the week or make it through to spring break or Christmas break or summer. You know one that we don’t dread. We’re actually aint gonna talk about this today. Told you at the beginning here you are my people and if you listened to any of last month’s episode, we are now on the month of October and we’re going to be switching gear. First last month we talked all about beginning where you are. So really figuring out what brought you to this place, who your people are and  what your core values are. And if you haven’t listened to those I want you to go back to episode 41 where I start to unpacked what burnedin means. And that’s what this season is all about, Unpacking burnedin teacher unpacking stories that relate to these incredible 8 steps that will carry you out of burnout. But not carry you all the way. You of course you have to take some action. So go back to, listen to episode 41, 42, 43 and 44. If you are interested in learning more about beginning where you are. I’ve also got a freebie attached so If you haven’t downloaded the free Chapter of my Burned-In Teacher training Ebook, Go to burnedinteacher.com/begin and you can get your free chapter because this month in October there’s a new freebie. And you probably already guessed it. It’s Chapter 2 of my Ebook. Now, you don’t get to use the reflections at the end of each chapter like you do in the Ebook but you can just digest everything that I’m going to tell you today. You can just digest it with this Chapter 2 and really internalize it. Highlight, take notes, things like that, so that you can begin to take action on understanding your teacher brand. So go burnedinteacher.com/understand and download your free chapter today. 


Okay so let’s get started with the meat and potatoes of this episode which is “Understand Your Teacher Brand” What we have to do if we’re going to get ourselves of our burn-out is we really need to brand ourselves in a way that projects positivity and gratitude. Now don’t shut this episode off. I know specially burned and over it teachers you’re like, What? I cannot be positive, there’s too much negativity around me. Just hold on for a moment and hear me out. Okay this is not going to be a long episode but it’s going to be very very juicy.  This is juicy meat potatoes, okay? Alright so, when I first started to really pay attention to my reality back in 2014, I read the book “Awaken the Giant Within” by Tony Robbins. It’s a very thick book and honestly I didn’t read the entire thing because a little bit of it became  irrelevant to me and my specific situation. I felt like I got the main just of what it was saying and trust me, I really got it because I really implemented what he had taught me in the book. Simply by changing your habitual vocabulary, the words you consistently use to describe the emotions in your life? You can instantaneously change how you think, how you feel and how you live. And now, this really builds nicely off of one of my favourite quotes by, I know I’m gonna say this wrong, Lao Tzu. I think this is like an ancient proverb right? “Watch your thoughts, they become your words. Watch your words, they become your action. Watch your actions, they become your habits. Watch your habits, they become your character. And watch your character, it becomes your destiny.” The way that we behave, the things that we think, the things that we say, really do determine our future because it determines how we view things. It determines our mindset and our beliefs and why we were put on this Earth. 


With that being said, I want to talk about, first of all, what is a personal brand? Now fortunately and unfortunately, if you Google personal brand a lot ot it really has to do with Social media marketing and who you want to become known; as a Youtuber, or as an Instagram influencer, okay? Now that is I don’t know, it’s kind of I get it and it does match what I’m going to talk to you today about personal brand but in the same sense it doesn’t. Your personal brand really comes down to, for me, how to take care of yourself, what you say and how you behave . That’s your personal brand. How you dress, how you take care of your hair, how you take care of your family, your house. It's what you say, things that actually comes out of your mouth or things that you say with your body language and how you behave. The way you treat others, the way you treat yourself, the way you treat your belongings. That’s your personal brand in a nutshell we could definitely go deeper into what it is. 


Now, I also wanna say this, when I say how you dress and how you take care of your hair and how you present yourself that way, I'm not going to get into this you know, belief that we’re gonna keep up with the Jones this year. That’s not what taking care of yourself is. It’s about showing pride in yourself. You can be you, you could do you and be yourself but, it’s not about trying to keep up with the trendiest, hippiest teacher in your school or that person on Instagram that you actually looked to as an influencer, okay? There is a difference  between looking at someone as a mentor, someone who you want to model yourself after and that person you constantly seeing in your life both virtually and in 3D causing anxiety feeling like you have to keep up with them. There’s a clear difference there so I want you to identify that. If it’s something that’s happening in your life, it can be as simple as an unfollow or you distancing yourself from that person if they are doing nothing but making you feel like you’re not enough. If they are not inspiring you to do better and be better, they are not a good mentor for you. Okay? And now we are going to talk about your top 5 here in this episode but that’s a little later. 


Okay so now that you know what personal brand is, we’re gonna go a little bit deeper into the education piece of this, right? We of course are people, we have a personal brand that could be our personal brand outside of education. But we also have a teacher brand, okay?


A teacher brand is similar to a personal brand but we’re going to really kind of narrow and zoom this in on how it affects our reputation as a teacher okay? It is your people, it is your presentation, it is your goals. That is your teacher brand. It’s about your people. So last month we talked about beginning where you are, identifying your people, again if you don’t know what I’m talking about, go back and listen to Episode 41 where I unpacked Begin Where You Are. It is about your people. It’s about how you present yourself in your classroom, Again, going back to Personal brand vs. Teacher brand, you’ve got to think about your people; who you want to impact most, and how you’re impacting them daily. What sort of influence are you having on them. So here’s what I want to ask you, alright? When you turn the corner in your school and you happen to have a group of people talking, do they scatter are they excited to welcome you into the conversation? Before school meeting or collaboration, are you the “last pick” to sit with? Are people excited to be around you? And I’m not asking this to make you feel bad and it’s really certainly not most important for me that I am the first pick to sit with. What I’m asking you to think about is how heavy you projected your brand to your  fellow colleagues and administration in the past because that’s going to show with their reactions to you. You see, brands are based on repeated patterns of interaction with you and if you have been consistently negative, if you have been consistently someone who does not show interest in new ideas, welcoming new people, welcoming challenging students, welcoming challenges, if you have met those head-on with negativity then their reactions to you are going to be less than pleasant. 


However, if you have in the past been someone who welcomes challenges and I’m not saying that  you’re saying yes to everything, you’re not being a people pleaser but you have a consistent, positive, pleasant demeanor even in the face of challenges that you seek solutions rather than dainting that talked about this on the podcast before. Then you’re going to have different reactions from people when you walked around the corner or if someone else is upset. Okay? 


Judgements and brand are not the same thing. Orlet me say that again. Judgements and teacher brand or personal brands are not the same thing. Brands are based on repeated patterns of interaction. People can’t predict how you’re going to behave, they’re going to predict what you’re going to say. They can make predictions on your reactions to things based on  those past patterns that you have shown. The good news here is that you can change your brands Okay? I want you to imagine Miley Cyrus, how many different brands has she had over the years since 2006, right? Okay, My daughter is 18, when she’s to watch Hanna Montana. That is a totally different brand than Miley Cyrus circa 2013. Am I right? And if you don’t know what I’m talking about, Google it. Okay? You can change your brand, in fact Target went through a huge rebranding. Products that we used, restaurants that we visit, they are brands as well. Okay? So if you’ve only ever thought about  brands as shoes, cereals, what not, people have brands too they can definitely change if they noticed that their sales are going down. So, I guess that sort of vision of what your personal brand is and how you can change that as teacher, that is possible as well. You can rebrand yourself. So if a company is rebranding itself because its sales are going down, you can rebrand yourself if you notice that people’s interest in interacting with you is going down. Again, this is not a popularity contest. This isn’t about keeping up with the Jones. It’s about projecting positivity and gratitude to the world for all that we really have because we really have a lot to be grateful for.


Now, I also said that brands are different than judgement. So a judgement is based on a chance encounter. For example, Imagine the way that you present yourself at school versus the way you present yourself. Say it, at the grocery store on an early Sunday morning. I can tell you, if you met me there vs. meeting me at a workshop, you would have two different judgements of me, my friends. The fact is, I don’t present myself at an early morning visit to the grocery store on a Sunday as I do to a workshop. But I can tell you, I consistently look more like what I do on a workshop and present myself there. More consistently than the way that I present myself at the grocery store on an early Sunday morning. So, if that helps you to understand the difference, we can then move on to How it is that we can change our brand or begin building our brand as a teacher who projects positivity and gratitude and of course the fact that you can stop goals as a teacher , Okay? Believe it or not, And let me just get one straight here,   If you are saying I’m just a teacher I don’t need the brand, I don't want you to stop using that language. Stop using that word “just” It’s not a necessary word, it is a word of defeat, okay? “I’m just a teacher” You are a leader, you are the CEO of your classroom. Now again, I don't wanna see the eyes rolling okay? You are a leader. Therefore, you have control over you, your brand, and sort of the atmosphere of your classroom. No matter what’s going on outside of it, you do control the culture of your classroom. I want you to think about teachers that students love and why they love them. It’s because they have taking control over their classroom culture. They’re taking control over their brand, and they have projected it with no shame. 


Let’s move on to what it is that you can do to begin building a teacher brand or rebrand yourself as an educator. So the first  thing I’m going to ask you to do is to create a personal mission statement. Now, last month we talked about beginning where you are. I asked you to think of your core values, Okay? Mine are, compassion and empowerment. I hope to project those core values on you every single week when you tune in to the podcast or you interact with me personally or I’m lucky enough to work with you and your school for a burned-in teacher workshop or Google related workshops whatever. I want to empower people to take action. I want to show compassion for their struggles and their challenges because I’ve been there. I’m still there. I still have challenges everyday so I want to show compassion for those challenges. A personal mission statement is pretty simple if you allow it to be. It is simply what you do, why you do it, and how you do it? So it might sound something like this, If you’re kindergarten teacher I  might be I create confident leaders in my students by teaching them ways to think for themselves make decisions with independents and choose kindness because their future depends on it. Your core values there, your just interjecting your core values into your mission statements. So maybe this kindergarten teachers words of core values are confident, indepence or kindness. So mine is I encourage teachers self empowerment by showing compassion to educators struggling with teacher burned out by empowering them with the knowledge skills and tools they need to take the next best steps in their careers in life in order to be happier, more fulfilled human being. Now yours can be any number of different statements that match your personality, your goals, and the reason that you are doing what you’re doing. The next thing I’m going to challenge you to do is to really dive into an analysis of how people describe you versus how you want people to describe you. With these steps, I want you to write down up to 10 adjectives that you want people use to describe you. This could be personally, professionally in any way. What are up to 10 adjectives and hey you know what? There are no rules,. You can have more than 10 if you'd like. In my experience, people have trouble coming up with 10. So just write them down. Just  do a brandup of all of the words, you can even do a Google search. And then here’s the tough part, you gotta compare that to other actually describing you. So I’ve had some teachers create a Google form and sends it out to the entire staff. I’ve had principals do this as well. And, or could just be a candid conversation. You sit down with a couple of your colleagues, your principal just say Hey! Im working on my teacher brand. I need you opinion.. How would you describe me on a normal day? What are 3, 5 10 words you would use to describe me? And if your words are frustrated, stressed, frantic, anxious, scarcity, Okay, if people are using those words to describe you, then you know that you have some work to do.  

Because I doubt that that's exactly the words you  want people to use when you come to mind because a brand is what people say, think and believe about you when your not around. This is different in gossip but its really about how you have behaved in the past and what patterns you have shown in the past because really you may not like this but your brand is whatever people say it is. It’s not what you wanted to be, it is what people say it is and the good news is here like  I said earlier, you can change it if you don't like what it is now. Now the next thing I want you to do is I want you to think about what I call your top 5. Now Jim Rohn has a really popular quote “You are the average of the five people you hang around with the most.” And it is so extremely true. Now when you think about the 5 people that you are around with the most at school. There are incidental relationships that we have. Once that we don’t choose like our team teachers or our co-teachers, teachers that are down the off must week we cannot control that typically. We typically can’t control who our administrators are unless you decide to make a choice to leave but there are also intentional relationships just because people teach down the hall from us does not mean that we are married to having a professional relationship with them that extends beyond our need to collaborate. We can choose who we go to for advice. Who we choose as a mentor. We can choose who we hang around outside of school. You do not have to feel obligated to hang out with people who do not inspire you to be and do better outside of school. You are not a bad person for being polite at school being professional and saying no thank you to hanging out outside of school if they are not someone who lifts you up, makes you feel confident or who helps your blood pressure to go down if you are having a particularly rough go of things with this students or another colleague or parent or the myriad of reasons that teachers are frustrated on a day to day basis. Your top 5 should be people who consistently offer you support and solutions for your struggles. They inspire you, they make you laugh, they make you want to come to work everyday, and not because they are swimming in the sea of negativity with you. They are people who are building their own boat and they are floating on top if not putting  a loader on the back of this thing and getting the heck out of this ocean. Alright? You’ve got to break away from those toxic people. It’s not a choice. You have to build a wall between you in a respectful way that shows again you are professional and that you can work at people who are not like you or maybe even don’t like you. I’ve been in those situations before. You are again projecting positivity and gratitude for the opportunity to work, Okay? To work with kids and to inspire the future generations but that’s where it ends and you are going to be associated with people who are also positive and grateful. So you maybe asking, I have this circle of friends who they make me laugh but not in a way that serves me or my people. Gosh is ever seems like a word that might be little harsh but when you are let's say your vaporating the line of connection between you and those that negative group of teachers. The teachers that hang out in the teachers lounge and consistently gripe and moan about how terrible things are, how they not gonna get better, and if the government do this or if those parents wouldn’t do this and all of that, you know garbage that’s not going to change anything. You just simply don’t show up in the same places. And when they ask why, they just tell them I’m really sorry I’m very busy working on something’s in my class. You know I made a conscious decision when I’ve first started teaching  I wasn't going to hang out in the teacher’s lounge. I heard the nightmare stories of how teachers talk and behave. Those are definitely not the people that I wanted my brand to be associated with. And at that point I didn’t even know what a brand was. When it came to personal or teacher brand but so glad I didn’t because number 1, I decided that I was going to go to school to work. It was my job, I was getting paid to be there. Therefore I was going to work during the times that I was allowed the time and space to get my work done. People know wasn’t personal I was very pleasant, very positive and in other places in the building when I was around. But they also knew that Amber eats lunch on her room on shorts and that’s not being disrespectful of other people and other relationships what it was respecting was me, my time and the fact that I wasn’t going to sit around and listen to people being miserable. I was going to listen to some call me music, get that important work done, so that at the end of the day I could go home and be with my family. So before we jump in to your main tips and take aways and what actions I want you to take to do, I want you to know the difference between what a teacher brand is and what a teacher brand is not. Teacher brand gives your people a mental image of you teaching while you’re aren’t there to witness it.  When they are not around they could predict what the culture of classroom is. By the way you behave outside of it. And the way you talked about your people when they are there, there's a mind vendor right? People know what kind teacher you are based on how you talk about your people, your students, your colleagues, your school, your profession when you are there or when they are there to see you in action. It makes sure teaching more memorable and recognizable. There’s a quote out there also that says, People forget what you told them, they will forget what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel. And gosh! Isn’t that a great summarization of what a teacher brand is? It’s how you make people feel when you are around them and how they predict that you would make your students feel when they are there to see it. It differentiates your teaching from other educators. This is your teaching special sauce. Again, this is not comparing who’s the better teacher, am I enough, am I  not as good, that is not what this is about. It’s about what makes you, you. Here’s what a teacher brand isn’t. It isn’t pressure to be the best and seeking gold stars or affirmation. This is not about being a perfect best teacher. This isn’t about winning awards, it’s about just doing your thing everyday and doing it well and with passion and gratitude. This isn’t a competition, it's a journey. Stop the negative self talk. Move forward with your brand with no shame. It isn’t about being Pinterest worthy or #teachersofInstagram that’s not what this about. This is about being there for your people. It’s not about becoming someone you’re not to impress people you don’t like in a place you hate being. Something that has come to mind in the past few weeks coz I’ve been working with more more teachers in schools. You know there’s 2 types of shame. There’s a shame of stage 0 of burn out. When you feel so miserable, so alone, so isolated, so frustrated. That you are ashamed to talk to anybody about it because you don’t want to be negative. That’s one type of shame. There’s also another kind of shame. When teachers are at the stage 5 or 4 or burn in. If you know what I’m talking about, it’s the success road map for my teachers I worked with. There’s a shame sometimes around being empower, being activated, being focused, being proud of your journey. Some people get to that point and they are ashamed because nobody else is feeling that way. They’re all down in stage 0 stage 1 where they are frustrated and negative. And you’re at stage 4 or 5 thinking yeah I got this! I beat this for right now! I know where I’m going, I know my goals, I know my story, I know my mission. And you’re almost ashamed to share your excitement and your passion and your pride. For where you are in your career. Teacher brand is about wearing that pride outloud. It’s about how excited you are to be in education. I know how popular it is to talk about how miserable teaching is. It’s almost like if you say, I love my job. People look at you like you have 3 heads.  Don’t be ashamed, there are two sides of shame. Don’t be either of them. Be proud of your teaching brand. Be proud of your people. Be proud of your profession. That all comes back to your thoughts, your actions, your beliefs, your character about what it is to be a teacher in today’s world. So here’s what I want you to do, I want you to write a personal mission statement. I want you to write down who you serve, what you do to serve them and why. Interject your core values into that personal mission statement. The next thing I want you to do is I want you to think about how people describe you. Have a tough scary conversation with some people you know even go those people that maybe shy away from you and say Hey! I’m working on my teacher brand and then their ears might perk up and they might say “what is a teacher brand?” You can tell them! We can start a movement here and the last thing is I want you to think about who you hang around with the most. Do they inspire you? Do they empower you? Do they activate you to make necessary changes? So that you can be happier and more fulfilled human being. That’s what I want you to do this week. Now, next week I am so excited to introduce you to my one on one teaching client. Her name is Lisa, and she is going to share with you actions that she took to take control over her workload. She is a burned and unbalance teacher and what’s interesting about her story is that we start talking about the differences in how she ran manage her classroom and all she has to do as a second language teacher. How much it changed her teacher brand. How she thinks, feel and behave on the daily And how it has change her outlook of her career in education. When we first start working together she didn’t know how much longer she is going to last. And now she faxes at me atleast once or twice a week and tells me how big of an impact our time together has had on not just her day to day workload but her vision for herself. I am so excited for you to hear this episode. So make sure you tune in next Monday, same time, same place. I’ll see you then. Burn on!

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