Just ‘A Teacher’: What I Learned About Perception And The Power Of Words On LinkedIn
The sad truth is that teaching is not as respected as other professions.
Like millions of people exploring career opportunities, I have spent an inordinate amount of time on LinkedIn in recent years. I have a modest yet carefully curated network in place. I have fine-tuned my profile diligently to stand out from the pack (although according to the bots, I am only in the top 35 percent of my network). I have sifted through job prospects, clicked on applications, liked comments, and even dabbled with my own posts. Yet, after a year of this LinkedIn madness I have come to a dire conclusion that may lay at the heart of the current teacher shortage crisis: Being a K-12 educator, especially a teacher, gets little to no respect in the new LinkedIn culture.
“Just” A Teacher
In a recent conversation with a close friend, himself a former teacher pivoting to a career in higher education, we both lamented this teacher status quandary. We agreed that in order to be taken seriously, especially from private industry, we had to embellish our K-12 years. Not embellish as in lie, but as in make fancy. Mentions of “learners” or “lesson plans,” for example, were not in line with the job market. Inserting words like “managed,” “developed,” “coordinated” or even “mentored” were much better.
As for job titles, identifying as just “a teacher” was a non-starter—even for positions in school-related nonprofit work, educational leadership, or instruction at the higher education levels. Like it or not, we had to adapt to a new LinkedIn culture obsessed with trendy titles, reform-focused hyperbole, and “transformative” practice—not in schools but preferably in the private sector. “Strategic,” “Consulting,” “Directing,” “Diversity,” and “Engaging” are in; “Counseling,“ “Classroom,” “Students,” and just plain “Teaching” are out.
The irony of this predicament is that virtually every job description we compared called precisely for the skills gained from combined decades working in the classroom. These are the same skills millions of teachers exhibit every single day across the country ― skills that would no doubt transfer to other sectors. “The ability to relate to multiple stakeholders” or “develop dynamic plans for reaching diverse audiences” could hardly be more implicit in a teacher’s job description.
And yet, we both shared uneasiness in placing any word associated with K-12 teaching in our profile. It turns out we were not alone. A passing survey of close teacher friends revealed the same concerns: almost all educators with whom we spoke felt as if their skills in the classroom carried little or no weight in the private sector, even in cases where the job called for their specific areas of expertise.
Even worse, many experienced teachers felt it would be a hindrance to mention their K-12 chops for a role with education-related organizations, many in the Just 'A Teacher': What I Learned About Perception And The Power Of Words On LinkedIn | Huffington Post: