By Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach

This post has been percolating for awhile. I never wrote it because I felt I couldn’t do it justice. That the idea was too important to not express it clearly. Besides, who in their right mind would defend self promotion?

But this morning, I decided to throw caution to the wind. Why? What was the catalyst for my risk taking behavior? A book review. Yep, a blog post about the book Lani Ritter-Hall and I wrote recently called the Connected Educator: Learning and Leading in a Digital Age. So how did that post lead to this one? Because when I read Justin Yantho’s post I wanted to share it with the world. I wanted to scream to all my networks and communities, ” See, look… these ideas are important! Look what can happen if you think about the ideas and concepts we have shared in our book.” But of course to do something like that would seem arrogant and be cataloged as shameless, self promotion.

My question is why? Why is it shameless self promotion? Why is it when you promote your own ideas, those you authored, trust, and believe, it borders on being seen as self serving?

Disclaimer: Now let me state upfront, when I talk about self promotion in this post I am not talking about people who are all talk. Not the folks who only talk about themselves and their opinions, most of which are not related to any call to action or hard work on behalf of others.

It is part of our DNA

I was talking about this issue with a friend and suggested maybe we have this mindset because our parents drilled it into us. “Don’t toot your own horn; if it is good you will get noticed.” My friend told me, “I’m from Canada, and for us it’s not a parenting issue, it’s a national issue.” In Australia they call it the “tallest poppy syndrome”, and in Norway I was told that Americans are perceived as loud, rude, and arrogant, mostly because of our willingness to self promote. In working with Catholic and Jewish schools, I have been told that arrogance is associated with pride and that we should err on the side of humility. But is marketing our own ideas and work prideful if we really believe what we have to offer is useful, transformational, or helpful?

Women and Self Promotion

Self promotion is especially tough for women. In a culture where women are penalized or bombarded with guilt for self-promotion, often because of being connected to the stereotype of being powerful or pushy (i.e., not ladylike), it’s easy to opt to pursue other methods for success in an effort to be liked. But if you don’t rally for yourself, nobody else will. And what if others have reinforced that your ideas are worth promoting – what then? Interestingly, for women there’s also the concern about potentially hurting other people’s feelings. Women are hesitant to self-promote or talk about their achievements because they don’t want to dismiss or alienate less successful people.

Rethinking Self Promotion

If you think about it, no one is more passionate about your work than you are. No one else knows the depth of your experience, expertise and ideas. And no one can elaborate on your work as convincingly as you can. By delegating promotion just to others, you’re taking away your best opportunity to demonstrate the value of your ideas. You are muting your best spokesman. Isn’t it logical that if we believe in our message, not promoting it would be selfish, as it would deny people the opportunity to learn from what we have to say or do? Humility is an important part of success and character growth — but humility should not mean that we refuse to open doors for others and help  them reach their goals, dreams and aspirations by modeling our work and ideas. It’s about sharing, not coercion.

I am not suggesting we have to play the role of a pushy salesperson or a self-consumed and annoying person to get ahead. But sharing what we have to offer to the world does require taking small steps outside your comfort zone and being willing to put yourself out there on behalf of your dream or vision. It really boils down to passion and believing in what you do.

Promote the Ideas, the Vision, and the Dream

Anyone who knows me knows that I talk about Powerful Learning Practice (PLP) a lot. I believe in PLP. I believe in the work we do. I believe that the big ideas embedded in PLP’s model are the best hope we have for reculturing education systemically. This isn’t just about my livelihood. It’s my passion, my legacy, my way of leaving education better than I found it.

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.

I am talking about how other educators are changing their learning environments. Take Voices from the Learning Revolution, a PLP sponsored group blog that contains zero marketing. PLP features our member’s work and their thinking about important topics in 21st century education. It’s a place where they can “self promote” their learning journey in community.

And I do not just talk about the “we” on our PLP website. I brag about PLPeeps anywhere others will let me do so. Some see that as self promotion. I was once turned down for a keynote for a large ISTE affiliate that had sought me out to present but had second thoughts when the committee discussion revealed the fear that all I would talk about was PLP. Which to be fair isn’t true — I keynote around the world and have yet to present on PLP. In fact, Will Richardson, my PLP co-founder and I have both agreed to rarely mention PLP in the keynotes and workshops we do because of the self promotion myth. But I have decided that in doing so we may be doing those who attend our sessions a disservice. 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?

It’s sharing that drives change for children

Some of you reading this are probably thinking: “Well, sure you feel that way, you profit from people becoming part of PLP.” Yes, we do and so does everyone else who is part of the PLP family. But here is where the rubber meets the road– you do not have to be part of PLP to get access to the ideas and philosophy. We share it everywhere freely for anyone who wants to partake. My new book tells it all. It shows educators how to “do” PLP in your own local context. It has Get Connected activities that walk folks through the same kinds of things we do in PLP. Will’s book about PLNs also shares basic PLP philosophies.

To not self-promote the work we do is counterintuitive to promoting the shift we feel is needed for children to thrive now and in the future. If we truly believe that what we are doing, collectively, is changing education (and it is) then why wouldn’t we self-promote at every turn? Why would I let my fear of being judged for too much self promotion get in the way of  helping make schools better places for children?

I am just going to say it: SHARING IS NOT SELF PROMOTION! That’s right — all bf caps… I yelled it. I told you I get passionate about this topic. Whether I am talking about PLP, my book, a blog post, a presentation or any other work I am giving myself over to on behalf of changing the world and making it better for children, then I am not self promoting! Rather, I am spreading ideas I believe will help you because I care.

And guess what: I am hoping you will reciprocate. I am hoping you will make me aware of your work, your ideas, your skills, so that if there is a way we can collaborate to make the world better, we can find each other to do so. Because if you are willing to take the backlash that comes from the myths of being “self promotional,” I will be able to find you, know you, and possibly work with you. In the 21st Century it is so important to know what those you know know. And how will I know what you know if you do not tell me? Brag a little, will ya? Make it easier for me to connect the dots. We are all busy and time’s a’wasting. I need to find you fast.

Dance When You Make a Touchdown!

I had someone famous who lives in Canada tell me once that my problem was that I dance when I make a touchdown. He said, “Like American football players, Sheryl, you tend to dance when you make a touchdown. Rather you should score and just act like it is business as usual.” I will say to you what I said to him: I will not only dance when I make a touchdown, I will dance more wildly when you do.

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.

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. Self promote. 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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45 Responses to “Unselfish Self Promotion”

  1. Ellen Berg April 1, 2012 at 3:53 pm #

    Oh, Sheryl, I love this post. I may share pieces of it with my 6-8th grade students.

    In an effort to minimize the negative effects of grades and grading (next year we’re getting rid of them completely–woot!), I sat down with each kid at the semester and asked them to tell me about their strengths and weaknesses, what they noticed about themselves from their collection of work, and what grade they thought would represent their growth, engagement and risk taking.

    It was excruciating for some of them. Kids were able to talk about their weaknesses and where they had fallen short easily, but standing up and saying, “Hey, I KNOW I rocked this part, look at how I did XYZ,” was like pulling teeth for 95% of them. Interestingly enough, the 5% who had an easier time were either kids who’d been labeled arrogant by previous teachers or kids who’d always struggled and made giant gains they were proud of.

    Since then, owning one’s strengths has become an ongoing conversation in the classroom–just like owning one’s weaknesses. I’m very open about my own to model it for my kids–I ROCK at teaching kids how to find their writing voices, I’m AWFUL at following IKEA directions.

    It’s only arrogant when you use your comments to belittle others. Failing to own one’s strengths keeps us small, a part of the herd. I don’t want that for my kids.

    • Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach April 2, 2012 at 3:35 pm #

      I hadn’t thought about this in relation to our students but wow– you are right this message needs to be shared with them as well. We all need to know our strengths, weaknesses and passions don’t we and sometimes school culture only keys in on weaknesses.

      Thanks for helping me think more deeply about that aspect.

  2. Lydia April 1, 2012 at 4:01 pm #

    Brilliant, as always, Sheryl. I agree with so much of what you said. I’ve recently come to learn that there is little hope in waiting to be recognized. You have to ‘put yourself out there’ so to speak. When something is as important as what you (all) are doing, I say go for it. Promote all over the place. We can worry about how others might perceive us. While we’re doing that, we may miss the opportunity to really inspire one child. That cost is way too high! My mother used to tell me: Never explain anything. Your friends already know. Your enemies won’t listen anyway. We, your friends, already know you are not doing it for yourself, but for all of us. Go get ‘em!

    • Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach April 2, 2012 at 4:26 pm #

      This is powerful. “My mother used to tell me: Never explain anything. Your friends already know. Your enemies won’t listen anyway.”

      That is liberating. A great place to start when trying to give yourself permission to share.

  3. @keelygriffiths April 1, 2012 at 4:31 pm #

    I wholeheartedly agree. After all, at the end of the day, you are the only one who you can trust to put the truth about you out there. You have to be your own publicist. No one will do it for you!

  4. Lee Kolbert April 1, 2012 at 4:52 pm #

    Excellent post! I agree with you whole-heartedly. There is nothing wrong with self-promotion if done in a respectful (not in your face) way. Why would you create something if you didn’t think it was worth sharing? To sit back and HOPE it gets noticed is ridiculous. I appreciate when people share their good things with me.

    • Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach April 2, 2012 at 4:27 pm #

      I appreciate when others share with me too. It makes it so much more efficient than having to search. And the innovations, the remix of ideas is so much easier when you share your passion with me.

      Thanks for commenting.

  5. Justin April 1, 2012 at 5:25 pm #

    Glad I could be your catalyst this time. It’s clear that you love what yo do, and your passion is undeniable. I think that goes a long way in your “self-promotion” without having to sell yourself. I think we could all learn something from you when it comes to letting others see our passion and what we do with it.

    • Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach April 2, 2012 at 4:28 pm #

      Your post rocked. I hope you get lots of traffic to your blog. I am thrilled we can learn from each other. I am so glad you are in my PLN.

  6. Amber April 1, 2012 at 10:43 pm #

    Hear hear!!! About to shout this one from the (social media) rooftops! It’s funny because in the design world we don’t have this stigma. Those who are unknown are unemployed. Self promotion is part of everyday business. I never understood the taboo of it in education. Kudos for writing this and speaking your mind!

    • Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach April 2, 2012 at 4:35 pm #

      Maybe that is the problem– in education, especially in the US, being known isn’t a factor. I remember when I had a bunch of Russian pen pals in the 1980s. They were all high school kids and everyone of them introduced themselves by telling me who their tutor was (teacher) and their grandparents.

      I remember thinking how different it was from the way we do things here. Teachers and Grandparents are usually invisible when tracing a person’s life history.

      Maybe if being Googlealbe, being known for our best pedagogy online, was a precursor to getting hired or getting a raise/recognition (rather than “seat time”) things would change. Maybe we feel self promotion is bad because education is a “one size fits all” culture. If you self promote in a culture of equity then there is the risk one teacher would stand out– they might look better in some way than another. And in a profession that bases its bread and butter on standardization that is too risky.

      • Timothy November 28, 2012 at 8:35 am #

        Susan,As I read your comment I was moved. I want so much for eracutods to understand that while it is more work and it isn’t easy, the end result is so worth the effort. This sentence is powerful! Faculty need to come together to form these bonds in order to save themselves in a profession that is hugely debilitating and isolating otherwise!Thank you for how hard you work on behalf of others. 0 0

  7. Patti Grayson April 2, 2012 at 2:37 pm #

    As soon as I saw the title of this post, I had to D.E.A.R. (Drop Everything And Read)!! You know, dear Sheryl, that I struggle with this one, so I felt like you were talking to me… :)

    What is distressing to me, is that I don’t hesitate to share within my PLN – I absolutely LOVE it when I see a new post from one of my fellow VFLR bloggers or many mentors. I never cease to learn from them, and they often inspire me.

    BUT… I struggle with sharing in a community where others do not. I know it is important to model and promote sharing in our learning communities, but I can’t help but feel as though it is not received in the same way, and worry that it is viewed as bragging…

    I’m learning to put that aside (thanks to you), and let others think what they will. If they think I have ulterior motives, they’re right! I want to make education better – better for teachers, and more importantly, better for students. If what I’m doing helps the greater community in any minuscule way, I’ll keep putting it out there, and hope that others will do the same. Thanks for a great post, Sheryl.

    • Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach April 2, 2012 at 4:37 pm #

      I wonder if the sharing with your PLN is because of trust and reciprocity?

      What you are doing is helping. Please share more. Make your mantra I am sharing because this is in the best interest of the kids I serve.

      You are a leader. Lead by example.

  8. Cary Harrod April 2, 2012 at 3:01 pm #

    Like others, I have also struggled with “self-promotion”; I’m not sure where that comes from but I’m beginning to see how not sharing my successes with others is actually quite selfish. My most favorite line, Sheryl…

    “I will say to you what I said to him: I will not only dance when I make a touchdown, I will dance more wildly when you do.”

    That says it all…in that one sentence, you have captured the true spirit of why it is important to shout it out to the world. What I know about you, for sure, is that you are the best champion of others. I’ve been on the receiving end of your quest to allow others’ greatness to shine…your silent mantra is probably something like, “don’t dim your light”. Powerful stuff, Sheryl.

    Brilliant post.

    • Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach April 2, 2012 at 4:41 pm #

      Thanks Cary. Powerful words. But the truth is that anything I shared that you were doing was 1) because I knew about it so when folks asked do you know anyone who is doing xyz I knew you were and I shared. 2) because it was great stuff you were doing on behalf of kids.

      Just imagine if we all were more aware of what others were doing and celebrated it. If we really understood that together we are so much more than we can ever be apart.

      Thanks for your comment. I believe in you and your mission.

  9. Nanci April 2, 2012 at 3:07 pm #

    I like to share with online professional discussion boards and get helpful feedback from educators all over the world. My classroom web projects receive thousands of hits and positive responses but I have difficulty sharing it within my own school community. This article is cathartic! I feel like I need to work on the art of self promotion in my school community..maybe I just haven’t figured out the art of sharing without feeling like I’m beating my own drum, challenging the status quo or worse…be perceived as a loose cannon threatening to sink others with more technology! This article gives me reason to pause and reflect on the important reasons for sharing and promoting new lessons and to not become discouraged when support or success does not fall in line with my expectations. Thanks!

    • Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach April 2, 2012 at 4:50 pm #

      You said… “maybe I just haven’t figured out the art of sharing without feeling like I’m beating my own drum, challenging the status quo or worse…be perceived as a loose cannon threatening to sink others with more technology!”

      I am saying that as folks who are “doing” something we are challenging the status quo. We need to just realize it and beat the drum as a way of leading the way.

      I would love to know some of what you are doing well so I can share with others.

      • Nanci April 2, 2012 at 5:54 pm #

        Last year I invited a grammy award winning CD cover artist who makes box sets works of art incorporating wood, cotton, metal to reflect the history of the music being contained within the object. My students created story core type CD’s based on recordings from audio interviews of family about their memories and past that have been shaped by music. They used their electronics (iPod, iPhone, mp3 players) to record their interviews and added appropriate music soundtracks for each interview. Then they designed their CD cover art. Here is the link on my wiki page:

        I have Voice Thread pages featuring artwork by my students, one of which (Fourth Grade Indonesian Shadow Puppets) received over 4,0000 views. Yet most parents and teachers at my school have never seen it.

        We have also participated in Mel Chin’s Fundred Dollar Bill art project to clean up lead contamination in New Orleans. Students met with a city councilman, participated in the performance art aspect of depositing art Fundreds into an armored vehicle (running on vegetable oil from school cafeterias) at a local art museum and got to see how collective action through art and local resources can create awareness of social justice issues and even change policies in government.

        So with all this online action, I was stumped as to why parents are largely unaware of the projects mentioned above….so I made a goofy youtube video for parent orientation this year:

        Just got an email from tech teacher saying no more videos, only a pic of specials teachers and our job title. Things like this make me think I’m trying too hard to share or I’m not doing it successfully. To be honest it is demotivating and discouraging so I’m trying to recharge and press forward despite the lack of response from peers.

        • Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach April 2, 2012 at 7:32 pm #


          You are everything that is right with education. I think your video should be required fare for all classrooms for parent orientation.

          I would love to bring you in as an experienced voice to PLP. Maybe we could do a virtual classroom visit to your classroom? Want to talk about it?

          Thank you so much for sharing.

  10. David Truss April 2, 2012 at 3:28 pm #

    I said this in a post not too long ago (on Perspective):

    “The reality is that I unashamedly want more attention… but not for the reasons people think. I’m not looking for fame or a new job. I’m looking to be the greatest influence I can be and a bigger audience to my blog means I have more influence, richer conversations, and more opportunities to learn. If I didn’t want that, I’d journal privately and not blog.”

    I’d share the link, but that’s the only part of the post that’s really relevant to what you are saying here. If the post had more, I’d unashamedly have shared the link. We need to share our own stuff… if we believe that what we are doing is worth paying attention to.

    I’ve been so impressed with the work of the PLPeeps and now have many of them in my network. Had you not helped promote them and their sites, well then it would have been my loss. Keep doing your touchdown dance! :)
    Thanks for saying this Sheryl!

    • Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach April 2, 2012 at 4:54 pm #

      Your quote is powerful truth. Draw attention to what works, what we are doing that is causing shift, how we are solving problems.

      When we talk about what’s wrong with education without sharing how we are proactively working on the wrong- it amounts to little more than whining. Personally, I am tried of talk without action. There is so much to do. Do something. Then talk. That way I can learn from what you tried.

      Come back often David.

  11. Christen Dodd April 2, 2012 at 3:31 pm #

    I LOVE this post! It really made me stop and think. I related to so many different pieces and agree with the comments that others listed above. In the 21st Century, I believe it’s important for everyone to know internally when they’ve done a good job and where they need to improve. If we always wait for someone else to give us the pat on the back we might miss celebrating all of the little things we do well on a day to day basis. So I say let’s keep sharing and model how to be our own biggest cheerleader!

  12. Stephanie Bader April 2, 2012 at 3:48 pm #

    “But is marketing our own ideas and work prideful if we really believe what we have to offer is useful, transformational, or helpful?”

    And my answer is a genuine, resounding “No!” (And that’s coming from an it’s-better-to-be-humble-than-haughty Catholic!)

    Because it all comes down to motive, to intention. We have to redefine self-promotion in this respect or better yet-take what we are doing by sharing our thoughts, our successes, what we know, what we learn, and call it something entirely different. Let’s not even get to the point where we think of it as self-promotion and then have to rewind or take back or apologize or justify what we’ve learned and shared. I never have thought of shouting successes and sharing what I have accomplished and learned as such …and that’s because of what PLP indirectly taught me. I share, I extol, I SHOUT from the rooftops my successes and my students’ and not once did I ever think it was wrong to do so..within communities that value this type of sharing.

    However, I have been met with the opposite thinking outside of those communities as Patti mentioned. I have been called a show-off and my “self-promotion” has bred an unhealthy sense of competition within that community. My intentions and motivations have always been to help others to learn and grow, have always been in a concerned, supportive manner.

    “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?”

    And to this question, there is an equally genuine and resounding “Yes!”

    Because where would I be if everyone in my PLN stopped doing what they are doing–sharing their knowledge, their successes, the successes of others in a transparent way with the intention of helping me and others to learn and grow? I don’t even want to think about it! It is ALL because of this mindset and this type of sharing that in a matter of months, I have learned what I have and grown to the teacher I am today. It is all because of others’ contributions to my learning and if I have the chance to do the same for someone else, I won’t hesitate to do so. I’ve experienced it firsthand and would never want to keep that from someone else who could possibly learn from my successes and perhaps more importantly from my mistakes and my failures.

    It’s not self-promotion; it’s self-revelation–for the express purpose of attempting to fulfill an insatiable desire to share what we know, to NOT keep anything to ourselves that could possibly benefit the education of other teachers and our students.

    Selfish? I think not.

    • Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach April 2, 2012 at 5:00 pm #

      I love the way you write. You are a powerful communicator.

      “It’s not self-promotion; it’s self-revelation–for the express purpose of attempting to fulfill an insatiable desire to share what we know, to NOT keep anything to ourselves that could possibly benefit the education of other teachers and our students. ”

      Thank you. I am tatooing this on my mind.

    • Patti Grayson April 2, 2012 at 5:31 pm #

      Well said, Stephanie! Reading your post made me wonder… What is the mindset of people who react negatively to sharing? Why does it become competitive when we are all working toward the same goal?? What would be the impact on education if we were all on the same team…?

      When others share ideas, resources, and successes, we don’t view it as a negative reflection of ourselves. We see it as a way to improve our profession and an opportunity to learn and grow. It’s unfortunate and counter-productive when it creates a negative atmosphere at our schools… But I’m at the point where I don’t think I could NOT share.

      We just need to keep doing what we know is right, and keep encouraging others to join us – There is so much we could learn from them!

      • Patti Grayson April 2, 2012 at 5:32 pm #

        P.S. I agree with Sheryl – Your writing style is engaging… Where can I find more??? :)

        • Stephanie Bader April 2, 2012 at 6:57 pm #

          Patti, thank you! I am working on becoming a more fluent blogger. You can find what little I have started with at or my blog on the Hub. I also very eagerly signed up to write for Voices and then got a severe case of stage fright…so I am working on that now :)

          • Patti Grayson April 2, 2012 at 8:38 pm #

            Look forward to having you at VFLR!! Ditch that stage fright, girl. As Nike says, JUST DO IT. :)

  13. Sister Geralyn April 2, 2012 at 5:47 pm #

    The message of this journey cannot end at the idea of sel-promotion but rather a shift in perspective. What my two years in Powerful Learning Practice helped to show me is that my words and ideas, no matter how small, do have an impact on others. I can make people think and change their perspective. God can to help others in their journey to fulfill what He wants of them.

    If you asked me for a personal image of what kind of leader I was a few years ago, I would without a hint of hesistancy, say, “The baseboard. I am a hidden person and often forgotten until someone needs something done.” Now, I consider myself the chandlier in the middle of the room! The chandlier does not give off its own light but reflects the light from another source. I personally see myself reflecting the joy and energy and the amazing shift in perspective from The Source; God! PLP has helped me to find the words to understand that the heart and souls of every human being desires to be connected. This is the way God has made us! Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI has both declared that the use of technology is a God given venue to connect with others.

    For me, its not about self-promotion but rather pointing to the Ultimate Network Adminstrator: God. So I echo St. Paul, “I boast not of myself but Him who strengthens me.”

    • Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach April 2, 2012 at 6:10 pm #

      I see you in all your chandelier goodness. Your willingness to share and promote what you are doing on behalf of others has taught me more than you will ever know.

      You are one of my mentors. I am so grateful you are willing to promote, point, dance or whatever it is we will call what it is we are all doing. Please do not stop.

    • Patti Grayson April 2, 2012 at 8:40 pm #

      ♫♪ Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine!! ♫♪

  14. Brett Clark April 2, 2012 at 5:48 pm #


    Thank you for this post! I can’t help but get excited about the work I do and the things that I believe in. I have often had people ask me if I’m self-centered because I talk so much about education and the things I’m involved in. I tell them no, I’m just passionate about the work I do. I can’t help but talk about the things that consume me. I work as a coach in my district and I am constantly trying to make sure that it is not me as a person I’m promoting but it’s the ideology and methods that I have faith in that I’m pushing.

    99% of the things I share are things I learned from other people. I am so afraid that teachers will close up their doors and stop sharing as more states move to pay teachers based on test scores. I have already had teachers tell me that if they have to compete for raises, then the days of them helping other teachers improve will stop.

    • Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach April 2, 2012 at 6:19 pm #

      It is this – “I have often had people ask me if I’m self-centered because I talk so much about education and the things I’m involved in.” That has to change.

      I do not want education to become a place of competition but rather one of collaboration. What if we incentivized schools rather than individuals? What if we shifted to learning organizations that helped teachers and students to become part of a learning community of collaborative learners ?

  15. audhilly April 2, 2012 at 6:54 pm #

    It is a pleasant synergy when what helps others also helps oneself; we call it enlightened self-interest, but the risk is always present when self promotion is allowed sway. The problem is that there are always times when self interest conflicts with the common good. It is far more likely that self interest will continue to hold sway then that an individual will put their own good aside for the good of others. I have seen bankrupt pedagogy be promoted because it benefited a career even though it disadvantaged children. And, where there are forces trying to divest from public education and reduce funding to a trickle, how easily is the self interest of individuals turned toward that goal? As an example: how many TFA grads enter education for the purpose of advantaging themselves, get jobs for 2 year stints and then happily get recruited to far less stressful, higher status careers? Of course, they reframe their resume building activity as being in the overall good of children: they will do more good positions of power and influence where they can influence large numbers of children) The reality is that they have chosen self promotion as their primary goal.

    • Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach April 2, 2012 at 7:45 pm #

      I get your thinking. I do. Your example is real and your wordsmithing is sharp.

      But I am talking teacher agency. I am thinking for too long teachers have been asked to do what they are told and be quick and quiet about it. Out of pure hearts and perceived humility they have remained quiet rather than presenting their classrooms and visions out loud.

      I am more than willing to put up with a few pompous self promoters to see many more examples of selfless promotion on behalf of those doing real work in the best interest of the field.

  16. Naomi Harm April 2, 2012 at 10:23 pm #

    What an inspiring reflection Sheryl! It is very hard for many women to share openly their success stories or professional driven passions in a positive light- especially in the education and business sectors. When women share their successes they are at times perceived as being self-serving and aggressive, but when some men share their success stories they are perceived as innovators for a “a job well done,” and “he must be a mover and a shaker” etc.

    This is the time- when each of us has a critical voice in the ownership and critical outcomes of our personal and professional educational and business journeys. A woman’s critical voice of insight, attention to detail and organization is exactly what is needed to make a monumental shift and historic leadership change to mold and inspire our future generations of learners and leaders.

    We are making headway and greater gains with women edtech leadership and entrepreneurial roles. The more we thrive as a collaborative community of learners and thinkers- and support the critical relationships around us that challenge our thinking and extend our learning on a daily basis- we will grow by the millions! We, as women entrepreneurs, may become the most influential educational and business virus this world has ever seen in this century.

    “I’ll have what she is having having!” is my latest quote of inspiration that I leave you with today.

    Sheryl, love your work!

  17. Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach April 2, 2012 at 10:34 pm #


    I think the woman issue is so important that I am going to do a Conversations from the Edge post over on PLP and hope to get some back and forth with a few savvy women like yourself that have thought about this issue.

    Hope you will join us. Look for it on Wednesday.

  18. Kirsten April 2, 2012 at 10:41 pm #

    I think of this kind of thing as owning my own successes and strengths. If I am capable of evaluating where I fall short, what my weaknesses are, then I need to be able to own up to what I can do. I had a heck of an eye opener when I went for a job interview (for the job I am in now). I was nervous. I nearly hadn’t applied as I wasn’t sure I really qualified for the job. A friend urged me to apply and see. Well, there is nothing like being faced with a room of people who are about to decide your fate and asked why they should hire you. In that situation, you either own your passions, your drive, your skills, or you go home. So I do not know why it should be any different after that interview. It still is, sometimes. I am more likely to talk about what I need to work on with future workshops I lead or look at what within my own teaching needs improvement. But at least I can admit that I am good at my job and I am definitely the right fit for it. I hope I can continue to take that forward with new projects and new ideas.

  19. Anne Weeks April 3, 2012 at 12:28 am #

    Dear Sheryl:

    You really called it straight when you said this is a problem particular to women. Despite the great strides we have made in the professional world, we are still questioned when we demonstrate those characteristics generally celebrated in men (confidence, sharing opinions, leading, debating, etc.). What I have experienced, personally, is that those (and especially other women!) who are threatened in some way by our confident sharing of ideas and willingness to stand out and lead are the ones who criticize. It just isn’t worth worrying about their reactions because if there’s anything young women need in this contemporary world are female mentors who can lead the way and show that being able to take control of their personal and professional lives is the path to success, happiness, and leaving a legacy.

  20. Lisa Neale April 4, 2012 at 1:00 am #

    Thank you for this brave and inspiring post. I literally felt my heart swell as I read and re-read your poignant words and the responses as well. I wanted to hug you for real, in person. Not quite sure at this time if I can articulate how much your thoughts resonate with me. I am so happy to be learning how to dance more openly with you and PLPeeps! Often I will shy away from sharing and being visible because it has not always resulted in positive outcomes. It is competitive and that is so troubling for me as I don’t see it that way ever when we are all seeking to make learning and life better for our students, children, grandchildren and everyone. So, here I go. I will SHARE more openly. I wanna put on my boogie shoes and boogie with you!

  21. Mary Phillips April 4, 2012 at 11:30 pm #

    Don’t we encourage our students to become experts our classroom? If we share expert status with others, self-promotion has to come in part with that … hey, I have an answer to that!

    Woot! Woot! As a field, educators are not good at self-promotion. Perhaps this comes from a service mentality or perhaps it comes from the assumption that everyone else must be doing the same kinds of things behind their closed doors, too …

    We are long past the time when closed doors in the classrooms provides what our students need. (Who knows that it ever did help our students?) In the Information Age, we mist be especially skilled in collaborating, and quite frankly, when the data is laid out on the table and you’ve clearly got it going on, well, then, it’s time to self-promote. For the benefit of others. Of the students and teachers you team with.

    Thank you for such an insightful post. What a delight to read! :-)

  22. Laura Dearman April 5, 2012 at 12:01 am #

    As we say in kindergarten…
    Sharing is caring.
    Sharing is cool.
    Sharing is always part of the rule!

    Thank you for sharing this article and encouraging others to share!

  23. Lisa Durff April 5, 2012 at 11:59 am #

    But my question is WHEN? When will all those teachers in K12 schools, in colleges, in universities, WHEN will they buy in and begin putting the ideas about which you wrote in “The Connected Educator” into practice? I was ready for this to happen 7 years ago….still waiting and lost my job waiting for the industrial age education system entrenched around me to change. If we don’t promote these ideas, if we don’t tell people about our books, will they ever know different? Kudos to you Sheryl!

    • Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach April 5, 2012 at 1:03 pm #

      It is always hard to be the visionary–the forerunner– the one who sees it coming. Truth is it takes about 20 years (a generation) before true innovations take hold and scale.

      Find your niche and start your own job. You do not have to work for someone else. You have so much value to give.