It's that time of year again. The weather is improving, flowers are blooming, the baby chicks have arrived at the local feed store (yes, I do live in the country, and yes, I did pick up some chicks yesterday, in addition to the ones I'm incubating), the grill is getting cleaned off, ed tech startups are all the rage among investors (OK, that's just an interesting phenomenon, but still...), and I'm ready to shift my career again. It must be something about spring.
Regardless of the reason, I wanted to share my new effort, one that gets me back to teaching (which I've sorely missed) and gives me a chance to expand my sphere of colleagues who inspire and motivate me. Most readers will be familiar with Richard Byrne of freetech4teachers fame and Angela Maiers, author of a number of books on educational transformation. Richard and I began working with Steve Hargadon late last year on the Classroom 2.0 Book Project and now we're launching a joint project with Angela Maiers called "So You Wanna Be a Leader? Lessons in Entrepreneurship for Teachers".
In my experience, teachers tend to sell themselves incredibly short. The teaching profession as a whole tends to be undervalued and its image has been damaged by union struggles, failing schools, and the too-widespread perception that people teach because it's great to have summers off. While not every teacher enters the profession for completely noble reasons, most do the best they can with the resources they have. So You Wanna Be a Leader? is aimed squarely at teachers who want to step up and lead real change, whether within their school communities, at the policy level, through writing or speaking engagements, or as consultants, turning their expertise and experience into educational improvement as well as improved personal compensation.
I started writing for ZDNet just so I could afford to keep teaching. I was lucky to come across this opportunity and really ran with it, with speaking engagements, consulting contracts, book deals (did I mention I want to be writing more? My editor keeps threatening to break my kneecaps if I don't finish this book I'm working on), full-time jobs, and some outstanding experiences and personal connections coming out of it. However, I'm hardly the first educator to have ideas to share or who wanted to help advance a particular issue beyond the walls of my classroom.
This desire to lead change, though, is one of the reasons I'm shifting from an executive role with WizIQ to one of user, educator, and evangelist (I also want to refocus on my writing and consulting, as well as returning to the classroom, even if it's a virtual one). Angela, Richard, and I will be delivering this 4-module course via WizIQ beginning this Thursday, May 10th, practicing what we preach, so to speak, and exploring ways to use emerging educational platforms to create new business models and reach a broad audience face-to-face.
Any way it goes, I'm really excited about collaborating with Richard and Angela; this is something new for all three of us and, if we do our jobs right, should be genuinely useful and empowering for the growing numbers of teachers who are looking to be as effective leading (in whatever capacity they choose) as they are at teaching. As Richard explained,
We can't promise that you'll make oodles of money because you take So You Wanna Be a Leader? But we can promise that you will learn from what we've done right and what we've done wrong along the way from simple blogs to small businesses.