Tuesday, June 20, 2017

"I Don't Teach History, I Make Historians"

I get a lot of requests regarding my teaching philosophy. As a graduate student, we were told to develop a philosophy regarding ourselves and how we planned to teach. Naturally, as a good grad student I thought the answer could be found by researching so I read A LOT of teaching philosophies from other masters and PhD recipients. All of them sounded the same. It wasn't until I actually began to teach in higher education that I realized what my teaching philosophy was...

"I don't teach history. I make historians."

When people think of history teachers they think of someone trying to get them to memorize dates, battles, and names. I like to think I make historians. Now, I don't expect everyone that takes my class to change their major to history but I inspire my students to think about history. I encourage them to consider what causes historical events to happen, what legacy it left, and how those events are similar to things taking place in our modern world. In my course, you will learn to look at history not as something that happened an eternity ago but how it affects us to this day.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Reputation is all we have (or "Personal Branding" as it's called now)

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about my personal brand. For the longest time my brand was Source Point Press (a publishing company I co-founded with Joshua Werner). I channeled all my energy for the last four years into promoting SPP. Now that I’m a paid writer and college professor, I feel the need to promote my personal brand (to get more writing and professor jobs).

At first, I wasn’t sure how to do this. I’ve never been that good at social media and every article seems to say that tweeting, posting and followers are the only way to get your name out there. Then, I thought about my career as an automotive professional. I was never hired because I had thousands of followers or because I tweeted every five minutes. Not only have I never had to worry about finding employment but usually I have been recruited because of my reputation in the industry (what nowadays they call “personal branding”). How did I come to be recognized as a “great parts guy” in the automotive industry? Well, I spent years making connections through various positions in the field and I attended industry conferences. Also, at every position I made sure I was their “go to” guy that could track down the hard to find parts and the parts were right the first time.

The connections I made through meeting and working with people were real. I wasn’t just a profile on a list of their thousands of followers. How do I transfer my personal brand into not one, but two other industries? Basically, I’ll just repeat the process. I love discussing and learning more about history so attending museums, conferences and lectures is right up my alley. I can use these opportunities to meet other historians and professors. Slowly through attending these events and giving presentations of my own I can build up my reputation as a well-researched and versatile historian. I have already begun building up my reputation as a dedicated instructor at the university where I’ve been teaching so hopefully that will lead to being offered more classes and knowing more people in the industry.

Naturally, I’m still going to share interesting articles on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, and my blog here but I can see that the real networking and reputation building is built in person.