Please don’t let your label of Distinction become a Deterrent

As many of you prepare for a summer of learning — via a variety of venues — edcamps, conferences (both in house and online), and summits — to share your expertise…….

Some of you carry with you the “recognition” factor.    You are – what I call “the knowns”.   You blog frequently, you have an abundance of followers, you might podcast, you might instragram or voxer, you have keynoted/featured speaker, and won a variety of awards.

You might have even been given a “label” of some type.

An elevation perhaps that puts you into a category — that at times, can distance you from others.

I encourage you to remember your journey — and share it with others.  It is easy to say “look what I have achieved and marvel at it” — but it is more helpful and much more educational to say “let me tell you how I was able to do this.”

You can have your minions circulate around you this summer — and walk away with your ego patted on the back — OR you can take this opportunity to grow others in their own journey.

I ask you to…….

*  Take the time to not have people walk UP to you….but walk up to others.
*  Take the time to sit in the session of a first time presenter….and then invite them to coffee afterwards and listen to their ideas.
*  Take the time to share the names of others who have helped you on your journey…..and introduce people to other people.
*  Take the time to invite someone new to your table when you go out to dinner… don’t need to entertain them, just make them feel included.
*  Take the time to use the words you and us and them …..instead of I and me.

When you become an authority — which many of you are —
And respected — which many of you are…….

People will marvel — and with that marvel, there is also the tendency to step back.

I invite you….this summer… step forward.

and share how you got to where you are now.



  1. Well put, my friend. 🙂

    I like to focus on learning WITH other people to avoid that whole “rock star” status issue I wrote about a couple of years ago. I love how you mention bringing in new people, encouraging first time presenters, etc. So important!

    Would also recommend to someone new to the scene… if there’s a person you want to meet, walk up and introduce yourself. Even if that person is well-known or whatever, you have great things to share, too. I used to let myself be intimidated and didn’t introduce myself to others. Deep down, I’m really shy and not always comfortable just walking up to people. The more I force myself out of that comfort zone, the happier I am in meeting new people. OR… I tweet them first (“I spy JenWagner”) when I see them and then introduce myself after the fact. It worked when I finally met YOU in person! 🙂

    Great post, friend. Thank you so much for sharing!

  2. Yes!!!

    Some folks have let their real/imagined/assumed status get to them and prevent them from connecting with the new and/or not as known. Many others are really introverts who feel more comfortable now that they are part of the “in” crowd. I don’t think either of those groups are always conscious of how cliquish their actions can be. Regardless, the attitude needs to be more inclusive. We’re all in this education game together and trying to do the best we can. Being known doesn’t make your ideas any more important or correct. Adding more ideas to the mix can only make us all better.

  3. Jennifer says:

    Thank you, Jen & Adina!!
    Yes, it is true that many many are introverts — I have met many, I am one as well. Comfort zones are hard to step out of.

    But with that said — often being a “known” means that you do have the ability to help others on their journey and not just “amplify” your own journey.

    That is what I wish for this post to convey the most — that the “knowns” not just rest on the success of their journey — but to encourage others on their journey — and perhaps give some hints/suggestions/things to be wary of/etc….to assist others.


  4. Sue Levine says:


    This is an awesome post! I would like to add a message to those looking forward to meeting “established & well known” educators to exchange ideas with. Yes–I agree with Jen…go and introduce yourself to that person or people.. But at the same time, remember that great inspiration is also going to be sitting or standing right next to you, so getting to know those in close proximity is a very rewarding experience that will bring much joy and possible future collaboration.

  5. Sara Brooks says:

    Excellent post. I think sometimes the new connected educators limit themselves because they don’t think their ideas or thinking can be as useful as the ideas and thoughts of the percieved “experts.” So by reaching out to the newbies, the “experts” can help more ideas be shared. We are all “experts” at times and we are all “newbies” at other times.

  6. Sara Malchow says:

    Definitely a touchy topic Jen but a great one to bring up and for people to reflect on. I, for one, am definitely the introvert and struggle with making that initial connection but I so enjoy learning from others AND LOVE sharing my passion with others- once you get me talking, we may need an entire afternoon, not just coffee to talk and learn from each other. I NEVER want to be someone who is better than anyone else. I put a lot of pressure on myself to be the best that I can be, but I also want others to continue to grow along with me. If I ever get too big for my britches, I hope somebody will kick me in the pants and bring me back down to reality. Thank you for this post and giving us all a reality check to our humble beginnings!

  7. Well said! I love your statement of reaching out to new presenters. We are all learning and none of us should think “we have arrived.” We should constantly learn an grow. I would also say to keep family a priority. I often wonder how some have quality time with their children and spouses when they travel so often to different conferences and workshops.

  8. crystal says:

    Education is always a journey to be traveled and never a destination.

  9. Chris says:

    I work with several teachers that have the “Ooh! Look at me!” syndrome. I am actually drawn to the quiet teachers that students talk about. I don’t care what kind of popularity contest other teachers win. I want to see what the quiet ones are doing. The quiet teachers often have the best ideas because they aren’t looking for fame; rather, they’re looking for students to learn and improve. Let the popular teachers have the light. I’m going to look behind the scenes. That’s where the REAL magic happens.

  10. Jenn,

    Yes, yes, a thousand yeses (not sure the spelling of a plural yes!?)…

    You and Michelle and Adina (Hello ladies!) and others have written most of my thoughts while reading your post.

    Another aspect of all this is the issue of not only name dropping other “Edustars”, but also various books and authors in, what appears to me, to be an attempt to “one up” others, thus magnifying yourself…

    I have distanced myself from much of the conferences and “chats” I’ve frequented in the past becauseI felt that the most important aspect of our jobs as educators was constantly being shadowed by tech and all things “good pedagogy”: our students.

    It saddens me when I see so many awesome people in our community leave the classroom for other positions with a greater emphasis things other that the obligatory mention of “it’s ultimately for the kids!”…

    I keep hearing the following from John Lennon’s song “Watching the Wheels”…”…No longer riding on the merry-go-round…”…

    Let’s get off the merry-go-round of educelebrity and have conversations!

    I really appreciate you writing and posting this post! Grins…Poof!

  11. Pat Hensley says:

    This was a wonderful post. I can’t tell you how thrilled I have been when seasoned presenters have come up to me and thanked me for my presentation or have gone out of their way to make me feel welcome. It encourages me to present more and to follow their example.

  12. Great post! The beauty of Twitter is that it levels the playing field. We are all in this together and everyone is a star. I appreciate all the members of PLN and am glad they stop me to talk. We should be encouraging each other and showing them that they matter. Have to love Angela Maiers and her her #YouMatter campaign.

  13. Kel Moore says:

    Thank you so much for articulating thoughts that have been percolating in my head for a bit! Well said.

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