If you read the blogs of educators, you can’t miss them.

They’re displayed proudly, so you can’t miss them.

For the individual displaying them, they represent accomplishment, a very visible digital signpost that says: stop and look, I am a qualified educator, a connected educator, someone to be taken seriously.

Back in 1996, I was awarded a fellowship by Genentech, Inc. to their Access Excellence program. The company, over a three year period, selected 100 educators from across the United States, and flew them to San Francisco for a week to learn, to connect, and form one of the first online educator communities. It was a good program; I got a free laptop (albeit a Macintosh), learned some things, and met some great people. What did I have to do to gain admission into this community? The answer: write a really good lesson plan.

The program lacked one thing. A badge for me to display my accomplishment.

There are numerous programs in place now for educators, similar to the one I was part of. You apply, submit some credentials, a video perhaps, and the great race for inclusion takes place.

If you are fortunate to become part of the experience, you often have the opportunity to participate in events and exclusive ones at that. You might get to go to a day-long program or perhaps a special event at a conference, get some bad hotel chicken wings and a few beers, and get to talk and mingle with your hosts, and your fellow program colleagues. You might even get to go on a cruise.

And you get the badge.

I’m talking about the digital icons of programs that are sponsored by commercial companies that provide experiences like I have described above. Badges that can be displayed on blogs, or other digital spaces, that signify the inclusion and participation of the individual displaying the badge in the program that the badge represents.

These companies are smart. They recognize that teachers are generally not recognized for their efforts, either by their own organizations or the communities they serve. They recognize that teachers are generally not recognized for their efforts; efforts that range from the mundane and necessary to those that are above and beyond, and are heroic. The companies recognize that the thirst for this recognition can be quenched with a program that provides that recognition.

And the participants also get a badge.

I generally think that these programs are good. Not as good as most of the participants think they are, not as good as their tweets say, but for the most part the programs are ok. They don’t do much to change education as a whole, but that’s not really the point, is it?

The thing that bothers me about these programs is the badge you get to display. The have-have not mentality that they promote….and perhaps the false sense of accomplishment that goes along with their display.

A serious question. How much of an accomplishment is it to be a part of these programs? How much better was I than the next biology teacher just because I wrote a more creative lesson plan? They didn’t see me teach. They didn’t ask my kids about me. They didn’t look at a portfolio of accumulated work over many years, they looked at a single lesson plan. Yet I was an Access Excellence Fellow-something to be proud of, but something to examine critically, and take it for what it was worth.

So, if you are a member of these programs, be proud of your accomplishment, but get rid of the badge. Revel in the good things you do every single day for kids. Be proud of that. You don’t need a badge for that; you only need to be recognized by the smiles on your kids’ faces, and on the faces of their parents for a job well done. Ultimately, a career, and a lifetime in the service of others will not be measured by an accumulation of badges, but by those that you have served over those years, and their accomplishments.

So be part of the program but get rid of the badge, it sends a bad message. It doesn’t represent who or what you really are.

25 Responses to “Badge of Honor?”
  1. I find the way people portray themselves online to be fascinating. And I’ve spent a fair amount of time thinking about how I want to portray my own online persona. Since I left my district a few years ago now and took this show on the road, I’ve really tried to be aware of what is contribution and what is marketing and I’ve tried (though not always successfully I know) to fall on the contribution side. I want this to be about my ideas, not me. Just me, but one of the reasons I like the RSS reader is that it strips all that extra stuff away and lets me focus on the thinking, not the person. No badges, no self-portraits, no marketing…just ideas.

  2. teacherman says:

    The real issue here is privatization and corporate presence in education. Why isn’t anybody talking about THAT? Because it’s totally political. Scratch any BrandTM “Distinguished” This or That and you’ve got a teacher whose politics are pro-privatization. A teacher who is against the branding of our schools wouldn’t take part in it. Not on any level.

    I don’t have a problem with teachers displaying some mention of their qualifications or accomplishments. What I DO have a problem with are corporations exploiting vulnerable teachers for free PR/advertising. And that’s exactly what you’re doing when you say you’re a [company name here]Inc “Distinguished” educator (or other such monikers). The only qualifications or distinctions that matter to me are those obtained from brand-neutral, ethical, non-commercial sources — i.e., those courses that are designed to serve the public good (students, communities, civic life) — not corporate power.

    When I see these branded ‘distinctions’ on somebody’s blog or Twitter page I am immediately distanced from anything they might have to say about anything. As far as I can see, this person has advertised that they’re willing to use their identity and profession to promote a product. I am not interested in engaging that — though I know that many of these teachers have plenty to offer, these titles degrade the teaching profession (and the distance that is supposed to exist between commercial interests and the public sector).

    A teacher with a BrandTM Distinction next to his/her name is branding. Remember when some of us fought to keep pop companies out of the schools? It wasn’t just a health issue. It was a privatisation issue.

    But all of this wouldn’t be happening if there was more respect – in general – for teachers and teaching. Ask any teacher (especially those working in the most demanding contexts) how often they receive some form of praise, approval or distinction for their work and they’ll likely tell you that the biggest “reward” is “making a difference” (translation: I have yet to receive any formal notice of my work or career). Most teachers are rewarded for all their hard work with increasingly compromised working conditions, bullying NCLB standards and a general hatred of schools and teaching that pervades our society. The most public thank you we can expect is a listing on Rate my Teacher. Is it any wonder that many teachers jump at the chance of having some Title TM next to their name? Or a ready network of other educators of similar ‘distinctionTM’?

    For me, the bottom line in all of this is privatization. For decades, republicans and conservatives have been working OVERTIME to privatize (er destroy) public education. It begins with budget cuts, bad programs and degradation of the schools. It ends with the rhetoric of “effectiveness” (namely: let the private interests in to “save” the system and do a “better” and “more effective” job). We’ve seen the results of corporate interests in schools in the UK. With the involvement of corporations we have compromise. And the presence of *unregulated* interests.

    Another problem with these titles — they represent learnings that are not tied to any national equity, diversity or social justice priorities. They serve the interests of companies – not the public. When you take an additional qualification from a recognized learning institution and teacher education program you are taking a program which has been thoroughly vetted by the Colleges of Teachers (who regulate ethical and legal conduct for the profession) as well as regional regulations, mandates and expectations that serve larger educational objectives. And I wish to distinguish this formal learning from the informal learning that is also integral to professional development — but again, not tied to corporate interests.

    I challenge any and all educators currently wearing a brand name next to their profiles to de-brand your identity and simply represent yourself as a teacher and member of the teaching profession. Use your identity not as a billboard for corporate interests but as an authentic and humble commitment to the profession and to the neutral and uncompromised professional identity that you agreed to when you chose to serve the public as a teacher.

    Being a teacher is unlike corporate occupations. You are not representing a company or corporate interest. You are representing the civic public as a whole. Stand by those commitments and honor the profession, your colleagues, your schools and the students you serve. If you’re in this for any other reason you might want to reconsider what this calling is really all about – it ‘ain’t ego, self interest or global markets. It’s about the commons.

  3. Melanie says:

    I’m really glad you wrote this post. There’s a general absence of discussion around this concerning trend of branding teachers and corporate influence in schools and education.

    Those who have chosen, willingly, to brand themselves need to realise that such a show of public alignment with a brand mediates how others perceive them (i.e., shills, etc). And I’m not so sure that many of these people realise that this perception is very real and very alienating.

    This all reminds me of the early days of blog ads. On the one side there were folks like me who refused to sell my readers by placing ads on my site. On the other, those who sought to model themselves after traditional media. As the issue deepened so too did the recognition of the underlying forces that inspired either position. I remember a woman saying it was classist to criticize those who put ads on their site. As a single mother with a low income, one popular feminist blogger argued that her ads were a means of paying for the time, energy and bandwidth required. In otherwords, it’s a privilege to blog – whether it’s payment for your time/energy or whether you host your own site. And then there were those who saw subtle changes in the content focus on blogs that featured ads – notably those that paid by popular keywords. Mommy bloggers fought hard for the right to market themselves and enjoy some small profit from their work. Critics argued that their voices and integrity – their product reviews – were entirely compromised. I saw the merit in both sides.

    So perhaps we need to ask a few questions and dig deeper into the edu-shill waters. And given the context of job-lessness and working conditions for many educators, we definitely need to start asking some questions about privilege. For example:

    1) Are the majority of branded teachers teaching within the public system or peripheral teaching contexts (language schools, semi private institutions, etc)
    2) Are these teachers making a living wage or are they part-timers, supply or partial demand?
    3) Are there non-corporate alternatives (peer generated) distinctions that might contribute to a more dignified expression of professional development/status?
    4) Are teachers aware of typical marketing and PR tactics — and how to avoid being exploited by these tactics?
    5) How many teachers can afford high priced professional development programs and conferences? Who gets to enjoy these “legitimate” distinctions?

  4. lynn says:

    My thoughts on your post go immediately to wondering if the badge is one of honor or just one of boasting.

    If I were to visit a blog, wiki, website and were to see badges there, I believe I would investigate more carefully before dismissing them altogether.

    The edublog badge of honor seems to get quite a bit of recognition but in actuality it is a contest, a popularity contest if I might be so bold and to me, it carries no weight. The winning teacher from 2008 had 147 votes which is hardly a true representation of the education population. And people were encouraged to vote via twitter requests and blog posts. So, though it is a pat on the back, for me, I just dismiss it.

    The google academy badge of honor shows a group, a club people belong to, but I also have labeled it as free publicity for google. They give you one day of good ideas, great food, travel at your own expense, and you promise to promote them during the year. That is not a badge of honor, that is a badge of commitment and obligation. Yet, so many seem to wear it with pride. Perhaps a false pride? I am not sure.

    But on the other hand, there are badges of honor that I do take a bit more notice to and though perhaps you might disagree, I feel that the writer has just cause to display it, it offers credibility, it offers recognition and not popularity, and it shows that the person who has been presented with award did create something of substance to be recognized. Badges from ICE, CUE, NECC/ISTE, ThinkQuest, Inspiration, Global School House I believe are earned and I think no less of the people who display them.

    I know that you will agree with me with the acknowledgment though that the people who are MOST deserving of the awards are usually the last to boast about them. And I do agree with your comment: Revel in the good things you do every single day for kids. Be proud of that. You don’t need a badge for that; you only need to be recognized by the smiles on your kids’ faces, and on the faces of their parents for a job well done.

  5. Lee says:

    David,
    You’re assuming that these teachers are blindly joining simply for the benefit of adding a symbol to their twitter avatar with no other benefit. What you neglect to mention is that in many cases, these companies offer free staff development and valuable learning opportunities that most teachers could not afford, nor would they normally ever hear about. A cruise or special event at a conference can be (and was) especially full of valuable professional learning experiences that are only slightly related to the company’s service. The networking that takes place at these events has opened up entirely new worlds for many of the educators involved.

    In many cases, these communities have enabled teachers to see their place in the education world that exists outside the four walls of their own classroom. They’ve been given opportunities to travel, share their ideas and create along with other like-minded peers. For some of these programs, although they may require a video submission, they may not necessarily be seeking the “best.” They may be looking for creativity and willingness to share and learn.

    I’m sure all companies who attempt to do this sort of thing are not so successful, but there are definitely those that have done it very well. The teachers who participate should be praised for taking steps to learn and grow. They should not be made to feel that their participation is worthless. ~Lee

  6. I love the badges. I look at them less as corporate icons “i represent the company” and more as personal identification “i am a part of something”. The power of this is less about “how does this relate to student achievement” and more about teachers being able to identify with each other.

    I’m sure what Discovery does is cool. I have never participated. But anywhere I go in educational technology I see these folks relate to each other in a powerful way. I joke about “The Cult of Dembo”. It’s a powerful thing. The teaching profession is way too isolated. Anything that can connect folks together and help them relate to each other is a good thing.

  7. John Gale says:

    Journalists and tech bloggers don’t get badges, but they do get junkets and bling. You can’t cut all connections to the companies (or the free open source groups) that provide essential classroom tech. In some ways, teachers are like journalists. And, after all, as 11-year-old reporter Damon Weaver said after his interview with President Obama, we journalists have to keep good relationships with the people we cover because they have the news and we need the news.

    So why not just do disclosures when you are writing about a company you have a special relationship with? It takes one line, and it lets your audience know about possible bias or cognitive dissonance.

  8. Over the past 18 years I have participated in numerous trainings in part or wholly funded by corporations. Those trainings, whose hours are literally too numerous to count, are of far higher quality than anything that has been offered by my school district. Not only that, the training has been sustained over several years (which is one of the hallmarks of quality professional development) contrary to the one-shot deals offered locally. As Melanie points out, I would not have been able to participate in these trainings had the corporations not funded them; the financial burden is just too high. Some of the sponsors of these professional development opportunities have badges and others don’t. I do display one on my blog and some others are mentioned.

    One thing that seems to be missing from the conversation here is that there isn’t a single training that we attend that isn’t provided by someone who is trying to make a buck and get the word out about their company. Publishers provide training on new textbooks, consultants come into the school or district discussing literacy, brain research or using Web 2.0 tools in education. Trainers and consultants expect to get paid for their work. Other than badges, is there REALLY a difference between large, well-known corporations providing training and small, not-as-well-known consulting firms offering training?

    Finally, I am well-aware of marketing and PR techniques used by corporations. If I believe the training or program to be worthwhile and pedagogically sound, I would display or discuss the badge or program. I know that most of my peers cannot afford expensive professional development, so why wouldn’t I share the knowledge I have about quality professional development?

  9. Cathy Nelson says:

    re –> John Pederson

    DITTO

  10. Cayce Pollard says:

    This whole thing is right out of Jennifer Government [ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jennifer_Government ] and I fear that those of us who object to this (the authentic commons, publics) will be forced into silence by ever increasing branded edunetworks.

    I disagree that educators are in need of branded networks to combat isolation. Twitter, NING and hundreds of other spaces allow for independent (i.e., non branded) educators to find and meet each other easily. I see no need for a branded network whatsoever – ESPECIALLY now.

  11. Laurie K says:

    Thought-provoking. Thank you.
    I tend to agree with John Pederson.

  12. Tim Johnson says:

    I can think about more important things to worry about than having a “badge.” These conferences, workshops, and seminars are wonderful ways to network, see what other educators are using, and try new technology.

  13. Jack says:

    Very interesting topic and discussion. For a little personal, anecdotal evidence about the impact of teacher recognition, from student to former teacher, I invite you to check out this little video — ahamoment.com/pg/moments/view/4654 — it’s about one teacher’s aha moment experienced when the impact of her work was recognized in a very special way. For many teachers, I think this is what it’s all about. Hope you enjoy it.

    Thanks,
    jack@ahamoment.com

  14. After reading your article I went and looked at my own blog. I looked at my badges, widgets, and rss feeds. I noticed that there are two categories of these items there. The first category is tools for students and teachers to use. The second would be things that show who I am. Since my blog is primarily a teaching tool, it is easy to justify the first category, but because I am rather proud of what I have done with my blog and the journey it has led me on I feel justified to keep on the rest. Like it or not, my blog is a transparent piece of me as an educator. Although I have a professional blog to post to, my class blog really is a mirror of my identity in my school. Maybe I should create badges for the schools I graduated from….

  15. Thank you for this post. I agreed with you for much of my career. It was a post by Bud Hunt (http://budtheteacher.com/blog/2006/10/) that really Challenged my thinking on this topic. His post a year later is something that I read again when GTA came through Colorado. http://budtheteacher.com/blog/2007/04/10/oh-boy-just-what-ive-always-wanted/ My position as an online learning specialist and the launch of our large district employment of Google Apps made me re-think and re-evaluate my opinion. I was lucky enough to attend an “ACADEMY/BADGE” conference (#GTACO) in August. I learned some and made some good connections with great teachers that otherwise I may not have met face to face. With the explosion of twitter as a social communication/connection tool I realize that there is power in connecting like minded teachers together in a physical or virtual environment. Google, in this instance, met a need and connected teachers within my state and teachers I was excited to meet from elsewhere that I had met, followed or “tweeted” with. I would say that while it seems cliquey (great post by Ben Wilkoff on cliquishness of web 2.0, http://learningischange.com/2009/02/17/eletism-in-the-edublogosphere-or-edublarbification/) badges really are a connection device and in the cases I’ve seen, (MAC, DISCOVERY, and GOOGLE) it really is a conversation starter. I was and I am excited to be part of a network like the GCT, I don’t think the certificate or acknowledgment makes us better teachers necessarily, but it does connect some like minded folks in a positive way and for that I am grateful to have been chosen and given the chance.
    Great post though, it definitely made me think.

  16. Diane Main says:

    I have to say that I disagree, David. In fact, the one time I saw you speak in person, I was there because of what those badges had done to me. And a lot of the people I met in that circle of very involved educators have more badges than I do.

    The event that I went to, where I earned my best-known badge, began a new chapter in my professional life that opened my eyes to the world of plugged-in educators that existed before Twitter. Many of us exist in solitude or limited numbers in the schools and districts where we work. It’s this new fellowship with like-minded educators around the country and world that helps us to become better teachers and to evangelize to those we see day-to-day and bring them up to speed. We’re the ones attending the conferences you speak at; we’re the ones who read your blog and follow you on Twitter. You are only reaching a tiny fraction of your potential audience. And we have badges.

    I am not a bought spokesperson. I love the free online collaborative tools provided by the company whose event I attended and whose badge I proudly display. But I didn’t simply write a lesson plan to become a part of that group, and I don’t just display the badge because of one even I attended nearly three years ago. It’s an ongoing process, and it only began with the initial event. The people who have all these badges are getting the exposure and training their employers can’t afford, and they’re passing along what they gain to the rest of us. They’re the people who answer my questions and send me links. And they’re the people presenting at conferences I attend.

    So I think your perception is not entirely accurate. Those badges are a symbol of recognition among our community, and do no necessarily indicate unflinching loyalty to any company or entity.

  17. Nancy Porter says:

    The isolation of teaching is a great point. While I don’t use the badge, my membership in the DEN (Discovery) has contributed greatly to my growth as an educator, connecting me to resources such as this one. They strengthen the weak ties. Also in a time of no budget for professional development, Discovery comes through with numerous opportunities to learn not just their product but how they connect to other useful tools. With other educators doing the teaching the instruction is always immediately applicable to the classroom.

  18. It’s funny, we (DEN) didn’t used to have badges for the organization, and I got bombarded by teachers who wanted something to display on their site. So we created a bunch of them for people to use.

    I do understand where you’re coming from. But people like connecting with each other. Is it any different from joining groups on Facebook? Putting stickers on your computer? Wearing a T-Shirt of a favorite band?

    Perhaps you’re taking it a little differently than I do, in that I don’t see it as a brag point per se, but more of an identifier. “These badges represent who I am, what I’m a fan of, and what I represent.” When I arrive at a new blog, I can scroll right along and get a glimpse of who they are based on their affiliations and who/what they link to.

    Would a full blog post and reading through their bio provide more detailed information? Sure. But I sure as heck don’t want to do research about the author of EVERY blog I visit.

    After all, I could write a story about how my dad, sister and I used to watch football together every Sunday as I was growing up and ask everyone I meet to read it…. Or I could just wear a Bears hat. It gets the message across.

  19. Paula Naugle says:

    Thanks David for starting this conversation. I have heard over the years that education is one profession where its members don’t display their diplomas and certificates of accomplishment. I believe that is because we don’t have office walls to decorate in our workplaces. I am a proud displayer of badges on my blogs and websites. Each one I display has helped me grow as an educator and identifies part of who I have grown to be. I do not think of my badges as advertising for the company, but as a way of letting visitors know a little more about me.

    I don’t think it is much different than your ClustrMap, Blogroll, Delicious or Flickr widgets that you display on the sidebars of your blog. It gives a visitor a little more information about who you are and who you might be influenced by. I am proud of my accomplishments and am glad that I now have a space to display my badges.

  20. RjWassink says:

    I had to read and re-read this post a few times before considering a comment, and then had to let my comment sit on the back burner overnight so that I knew what I wanted to say.

    I’m a badge guy. When I was a kid I envied people with a lot of credentials. I wanted to have a license for everything imaginable when I grew up. I loved walking into someone’s office and seeing their diplomas and/or awards hung on the walls. I wanted to have bumper stickers all over my entire car announcing where I’d been – whether it climbed Mt Washington or survived Death Valley, I wanted the badge.

    As I got older and experienced life, the *meaning* of the badges changed. No longer did I look at those people as “better” than everyone else, but instead as “more experienced”. Just because I don’t have my NASCAR license doesn’t mean that I couldn’t out-drive someone who does. Just because my car didn’t have that Mt Washington bumper sticker doesn’t mean that I couldn’t drive up it time and time again…

    I still want to have badges all over the place. I work hard to achieve most of them, and I want to remember that hard work every day. But I want them for myself, not necessarily for others. And when I see badges on other people’s sites I don’t ever think differently of them. There are a few that I really, really want, including the GTA one (if they ever have another one!) I may believe that it’s not good to be too overly pious – but I also believe that being proud of my accomplishments and showing off a little is good for my soul, especially while here on earth as a teacher :-)

    And by the way, even if it seems like people are sellouts for displaying badges from businesses or politicians I think most people truly stand behind their endorsements. I’d post nearly anything that Google or Apple or Ford asked me to because I believe in their products. I also have my 2010 ISTE Newbie badge on my site because I stand behind the effort, not because I was coerced into putting it there by anyone else.

  21. Scott Meech says:

    Hey … this reminds me of a very long discussion that was started about Twitter and how people identify with each other in person. Now you have me worried that I might walk up to someone and fail to say, “Hi, I am SMeech.net and we are fellow GCTers.” This kind of stuff isn’t unusual or new in any way… What about when presenters make a point by saying, “remember these old computers” or “remember when you still had to use punch cards”? Perhaps they are not walking around with “badges” but they have created an imaginary one for themselves by saying, “Hey, I was there in the beginning and that gives me legitimacy!” People have all kinds of “badges” …

    Early on, one of the most successful people I know said, “Everything you get in life is about who you know and how much money you have.” While this isn’t the most positive thought, it rings true to a certain extent. Since money isn’t important to me and I will never have a lot, I focus on who I knew. I have tried all of my life to surround myself with highly qualified and educated people. Several of these organizations that offer badges have allowed me access to learn from a lot more! I identify with the group of people that I have access to and not the name brand.

    Another admired colleague of mine gave me some advice upon taking a new job that I think is invaluable. He told me, “Focus on developing relationships with your staff first”. I can’t think of anything better to do. Developing relationships with our virtual colleagues is just as important … Hmm… Shouldn’t there be a post soon about “blog rolls” and how we choose who is on them? I guarantee there are more than enough people out there that have their blog rolls devoted to their personal “in crowd” and not always for those that are the most highly qualified or for those really making an impact in their classroom.

    Well … I am off to post all those old “web award logos” again from the early days of the web from every unknown web source. My blog is going to be at least another 5 inches longer than everyone elses! Perhaps I will put up a “visitor count” again while I am at it … I just hope I don’t get horizontal scroll on my web page now.

  22. While I’m jumping into this conversation way, way late, it’s really got me thinking this morning—and as a full time classroom teacher, I can tell you that I crave any kind of distinction or recognition from outside organizations for two reasons:

    1. I never get it from anyone within my own school or district: The culture of equality within schools drags all us frisky crabs back into the pot.

    2. They help me to gain credibility from decision makers beyond the classroom: Those in positions of power see all teachers as the same—mediocre thinkers that need to be told what to do. Even after working hard and earning all kinds of more meaningful honors—National Board Certification, Regional Teacher of the Year (a portfolio and interview driven process in our state)—-I’m still not taken seriously by many people.

    I think what I’ve learned is that if I’m going to stay in the classroom and have an impact beyond the classroom, I need to collect as many badges as possible. Only when I can start to line titles up behind my name will I be seen as the equal of those who work beyond the classroom.

    Frustrating? ABSOLUTELY.

    But also absolutely true.

    Anyone else have these feelings?
    Bill

  23. Lisa Parisi says:

    Sorry to come into this so late but I do want to add my thoughts. What made you so different from the teacher next door was not the ability to write an engaging lesson plan. It was the fact that you wanted to take the time to write that lesson plan and submit it to further your learning as an educator. And that is something to be proud of. You know too many of us sit back and coast through our teaching. Why shouldn’t those of us who put in extra time to keep up with learning be proud? And why not connect with others who want to continue learning? That, to me, is what the badges are all about.

  24. Cynthia Caldwell says:

    Mr. Jakers,

    I agree that the badge is not what educators should strive for. I look for the light in my students eyes; that look. You know the one that says “I get it!” I like the joy of knowing that I am making a difference in my students lives. I am not looking for awards or bages from others. I want to hear from my students (or their parents) that they are or have learned something from me that made helped to change their thinking process. I still remember the parent that came to me to tell me that her son was still appreciative of the way I acted when he fell backwards off a swing and pulled his pants off in the process. I began by giving his “friend” a stern talking to because the friend laughed at him instead of helping him. I treated the boy with respect and helped him to regain his dignity. His mother talked with me over a year after this happened. Until that point, I did not even know that I had had any impact on the boy, let alone that much of one. I am glad you won the award and you should be proud of that, but you are correct — the real reward is with the students.

  25. [...] programs like this are generally beneficial, but not as beneficial as everyone thinks.  I’ve written about his before, especially in regards to my distaste for the badges that participants display on their blog.  I [...]

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