Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Who else wants to be a Purple Cow for Education? #coffeechugPLN

This post started out as a book review for Seth Godin's book Purple Cow, but morphed into something much more. If you have read Purple Cow, then this post will resonate. If you have not read Purple Cow, then read this post and then go read the book.

This book is over 10 years old and yet it still speaks to me on many levels. Like all the other marketing business books I have read this summer I read the material through the lens of education. Instead of worrying about how to make money, I read these books to figure out how to appeal to students and improve education.

This book is spot on. The book discusses the markets of companies. I feel that the market for students is no different. Society today has over-saturated the minds of our youth. They have so many outlets, apps, people, communities, etc. pulling for their attention that it is almost beyond absurd. Reading this book about being a purple cow made me think even more about how teachers brand themselves. I hate to say it, but we are in the market of our students. We are fighting for their attention. What will we do as teachers to stand out for their time?

The frustrating thing is how many teachers don't feel this is their obligation. They don't think they should have to appeal to students. It is not their job to entertain or grab their interest. They believe the students should conform to them. I know it is not professional to say, but I want to ask them what planet do they live on? When we were kids we did not conform either. We might not have gotten into trouble, but it was not that long ago that we were young and begging to get out of school. It is our duty to be a game changer. It is what we do. It is our job. Why else would you be in the occupation if not for the kids. You want your own children to have teachers who go above and beyond so make sure you do the same.

Teachers today have to connect with students. We have to be better than very good. As Seth states in the book, "The opposite of remarkable is very good. Very good is an everyday occurrence and hardly worth mentioning." Teachers today have to go above and beyond. Stand out. Make your teaching brand known. Not only do we have to stand out among the buzz of society, but even among the teachers in the building we teach in.

I cannot help but think of several years ago when I was one of four teachers in the district who received a SMARTboard. It was mind blowing to students. Everyone wanted to be part of the action. Teachers wanted one and students were so excited to be part of the journey. Now every classroom has a SMARTboard and nobody cares. Following the leader only leads to very good. You have to create your own niche. The SMARTboard is now a chalkboard of today. Not one kid cares about the technology. What are you doing to separate yourself?

I have typed up my notes to Evernote which you can view here. I have taken the context of the material and tried to rewrite it to fit education. I would love to hear your thoughts and feedback.

Despite the book being a decade old, the material is still fresh. Yes, his examples of the the digital camera no longer work as they have been replaced by smart phones, but the ideas are as strong as ever. We are in an age where we have to stand out. Safety is in the risk taking.

Working on my own teaching and craft this summer I am really trying to brand myself. I want to be "me" aka Coffeechug. I don't want Coffeechug to look like anyone else. Would I love the following of Dave Burgess and #TLAP? Yes, he is everywhere right now. I am learning from him and his community like no other, but I cannot be just another person. I have to apply, adapt, modify, and make things my own. Coffeechug has to be a Purple Cow in education.

Last, in order for this to happen I have to shake things up. Schools need to quit being factory mode learning institutions. I know we have preached that for years, but very little has changed. Desks are still in rows and we still expect students to fill in worksheets perfectly to our standard. Let your uniqueness as a teacher spill over to students. Let them be unique. Let them chart their own path with your guidelines. We are not linear by nature and our classrooms should not either. It is time schools become a Purple Cow and move beyond very good to remarkable.

Thank you Seth Godin for giving me more fuel to my fire to pursue my passion of being a remarkable educator. This is a must read if you have not already read this book.

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