Why don’t teachers have business cards..?

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I just returned from the Oppi festival of learning in Helsinki; a weekend of thought provoking talks, challenging discussions, and great learning. Such events are valuable in themselves, but their value continues not just by what you learn by attending, but also the conversations you start. Above is the collection of cards I collected from people with whom I had interesting discussions that we both wanted to continue.

Some of the most interesting conversations I had at the festival were with teachers, yet many of those conversations will likely not get continued for the simple reason that most of the teachers at the festival didn’t have a quick and easy way of sharing their contact details. In these days of twitter backchannels and other social networks people are much easier to find than they once were, but still these simple cards act as a reminder and a signal of an intention that a conversation has started and not finished.

On the face of it this is a simple practical point (teachers- get some printed before your next conference!), but on reflection it is symptomatic of a deeper lack of value placed on the deliberate forging of connections and sustaining of professional conversations for teachers.

When I was working as a class teacher CPD events felt very much like a one off event, something that delivered what was needed (or occasionally failed to) on the day. These days such events are much more of a start, a place to begin conversations that will lead to future change and development.

Whilst I learned a lot from the talks and the ideas shared in Finlandia Hall at Oppi, it is the connections and conversations which started there which will likely be the most valuable part. Without the simple business card many of these opportunities would be lost. It’s time, I think, to place more value on teaching as a connected profession.

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5 thoughts on “Why don’t teachers have business cards..?”

  1. Totally agree. In Singapore when I spoke at the Teacher’s Conference there it is standard in the country that everyone has businesscards to exchange no matter what their job is. Teachers are all employees of the ministry of education and therefore all get Ministry business cards and it is expected you swap cards as soon as you meet.
    As an aside I also like the card swapping culture – you are expected to receive the card with both hands and be seen to read it before putting it away – a mark of respect and to show you intend to continue this relationship.

  2. Coming from HE into teaching I noticed the same lack of business cards. Must before I left I got a lovely set of moo cards with my Twitter handle printed on and my (now old! ) avatar. I still use them but may teachers see to think them rather odd.
    It’s a shame but I hope the culture here will change .
    Twitter can be a lightweight way to forge and continue those important relationships after the event.

  3. I think you touch on an interesting symptom of a bigger issue here, Oliver, to do with the self-image of the profession. From you opening sentence, I expected to hear that all Finnish teachers are issued with business cards, but it seems that even there the building of networks of trust is not accorded the status it should be. It may well be, as Jo describes, that we need our Twitter, G+ or Facebook handles and avatars on these things, but they are still a remarkable aide-memoire once we get back home…

  4. I quite understand why teachers don’t have them. First, they’re unlikely to be out iof school on ‘official business’ that often. Second, and this is the important one I think, business cards just feel a bit too ”corporate”.

    They’re a necessary evil, even in this day and age. The trouble is that you often want to give different contact details and information to different people. Perhaps get ones with just your name printed on white card so they can be written on?

    PS I recognise that top-most business card 😉

  5. Very interesting post & comments Oliver. The profession still has a feel of ‘give us what you think we need’ about it rather than ‘this is what I want to move me forward.’ It is also quite an insular job unless you are among those tweeps who are brancing out beyond their classroom walls.

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