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The “Entrepreneurial” Educator

After listening to Dr. Yong Zhao this past Tuesday, it reinvigorated a concept I hold dearly in this 21st century environment: taking ownership of your own professional career. To quote Dr. Zhao from his recent ISTE 2012 keynote, “you don’t wait for someone to create a job for you, you go out there to create a job for yourself.” Spending the last four days at ISTE, I was further convinced that our innovative teachers are expanding their own horizons (theme of the conference) and creating 2.0 versions of their professional career. It is nothing really revolutionary, but it has been amplified with the rise of ICT (Information Communication Technologies). Some teachers are considered “Rockstars” and have become professional icons to many; in fact, I bet some are making more money on the speaking circuit than they probably make as a teacher back at their school district. I certainly know a few teachers who left the traditional classroom and branched into independent consulting. Many teachers have written books, produced educational videos, created hashtags used by many, designed software, garnered thousands of Twitter followers, developed global Nings and continue to deliver professional development around the world. I mean this is stuff that definitely was not in their job description originally as a teacher, but has become an entrepreneurial endeavor based from their classroom teaching. It is important to note that many are not driven by the money (being an entrepreneur doesn’t always equate to monetary gain) from these endeavors, although I am sure a little side money doesn’t hurt. I am impressed and support how these teachers have branded themselves and evolved their career to something bigger than they have probably imagined going into a teaching career.

As Dr. Yong Zhoa highlighted in his keynote, it is the rise of the creative class and people with unique specialized skills. The talented teachers I have met are as creative as anyone, and have unique skills of authentic teaching with the “entrepreneurial” spirit of sharing their skills in branded ways (whether driven by $ or not). He further describes in his keynote the need to move towards entrepreneurial-based education and that schooling needs to be product-oriented. From the many great PLN that I finally met face-to-face, I see educators who are truly modeling what Dr. Zhao has been preaching in his keynote and new book: World Class Learners: Educating Creative and Entrepreneurial Students. The next layer is to bring this mindset and culture into our classrooms and students.

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