Just ten years ago, I remember an administrator telling our faculty to never do anything online that would reveal our identities. The world of the Internet was considered “dangerous” and something that could only get us into professional trouble. Things have changed quickly.
Today, although we should be cautious of how we interact online, the intentional development of a professional digital presence can help educators grow professionally in many ways. Strategic interactions online can lead to increased effectiveness, powerful professional relationships, and thriving careers.
Here a few tips for establishing a professional digital presence that will help you grow.
- Create “Landing Pages” that Communicate Your Work
- Is your school website up-to-date? Does it represent the work you do with students and adults? Many of us struggle to regularly update our school websites during our busy days, but an out-of-date website provides a poor picture to the outside world of how committed we are. The irony is our hard work is usually the reason for forgotten updates. It doesn’t matter. Perception is reality to stakeholders and potential employers.
- Invest time in developing a LinkedIn profile. A well-presented LinkedIn page acts as a digital resume for many employers. It promotes your brand through establishing your work history, values, skills, and accomplishments. In addition, it is a convenient way to curate your work history and accomplishments when it becomes time to submit a resume to a new potential employer.
- Consider creating your own blog. A regularly updated and professionally-focused blog can detail your passion for teaching and learning as well as strategically share aspects of your personality. No matter what position you apply for today, it is likely that your potential employer will “google” you.
- Develop Professional Learning Partnerships
- Engaging in PLNs (personal learning networks) via platforms like Twitter, Voxer, or MOOCs enables educators from across the world to learn from one another. Many educators may feel alone trying new practices in isolated situations (superintendents, head principals, “singleton” content-area specialists like art or engineering teachers). Oftentimes, online connections between educators in similar roles can lead to the development of ongoing virtual PLCs. These professional learning partnerships can build confidence when educators want to experiment with new innovative approaches, and they can support us when we encounter struggles.
- As for career advancement, exchanging expertise builds relationships with others while also teaching them your strengths. These relationships result in professional networks who can help you “get your foot in the door” when seeking a new position.
- Use Social Media to Find New Opportunities
- In a time of reduced funding in many schools, teachers have gained supplies from using sites like Donors Choose or tweeting their projects to influential followers.
- Look for programs that will enhance your skills. If I didn’t follow ASCD on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites, I may not have learned about the ASCD Emerging Leaders program. Since joining the program, I have enhanced my leadership and advocacy skills. I have also written widely-distributed blog posts. There are numerous opportunities if you are digitally connected.