Response to “Badge of Honor”

Lee Kolbert (@TeachaKidd on Twitter) makes me think. She makes statements or shares links or asks questions that get me going.  Thanks, Lee, for pushing my thinking on this issue!

First off, let me say that I think David Jakes is a very smart person and I respect him and what he usually has to say a LOT.  I enjoy following him on Twitter and deliberately attend his presentations when I can to learn from him. However, in this case, he and I may need to agree to disagree.

David recently wrote a blog ( that said get rid of the badges you have been given.  His statement about why is that “they send a bad message” and to back that up, he says what bothers him is the “have-have not mentality that they promote….and perhaps the false sense of accomplishment that goes along with their display.”

I disagree.

I believe teachers who get recognition, whether they apply for it or not, should show the honors they receive—for it IS an honor to be selected as an Apple Distinguished Educator, or a Google Certified Teacher, or a STAR Discovery Educator or a Golden Apple recipient, or a presenter at k12online conference, or NECCunplugged, or Edubloggercon, or any of the other badges teachers display. I believe, beyond the have/have not mentality, that it shows teachers who go beyond the classroom, who look for connections to other educators and who share and probably revel in being a lifelong learner.  What David doesn’t explain is that being part of these communities is just that—being part of a larger community of learners, of thinkers, of doers and movers and shakers—and the coolest thing to me is the INCLUSIVE behaviors of these educators through these programs.

I KNOW Apple Distinguished Educators mentored others through the application process in 2009 and spoke for them to Apple.

I KNOW Google Certified Teachers did the same.

I KNOW DEN STARS are always telling others—“You should become a DEN STAR!”

I’ve heard these things, seen them and experienced them.

DEN STARS are always offering tips and tricks about Discovery Education, streaming video, digital storytelling, and sharing the incredible resources available on the DE site.

At the July 09 Apple Institute, ADEs were streaming it and sharing the videos being created as soon as they were made.

At the August 09 Google Teacher Academy, the agenda was sent out publicly and tweets shared the learning throughout the day. I virtually attended the previous two through the notes docs being shared and the agenda and the incredible resources there.

At the conferences mentioned, the presentations are streamed (and often archived) so others can attend and learn virtually.

I, and many others, I am sure, have learned about these opportunities through those badges—seeing one and saying, ”What is that?” It’s NOT about having or not having a badge—it’s about sharing the opportunities to learn, sharing the knowledge one learns through those opportunities and encouraging others to apply the next round. It’s about making the world—and various types of learning—more accessible to a larger group than a company can accommodate. For me, those badges aren’t about exclusivity, but about sharing and learning and growing, and when I see one I see that person as someone I can ask about that opportunity.

What do YOU think?

12 thoughts on “Response to “Badge of Honor”

  1. I follow the badges as a starting point for expectation of high standards… but having no badges, myself…The most important statement here is this. “it’s about sharing the opportunities to learn, sharing the knowledge one learns through those opportunities and encouraging others to apply the next round”. I DO this… without a badge and many folks do! But having a hard-earned badge is well deserved and I think recognition is cool. Folks with badges simply followed guidelines and jumped hoops while achieving and sharing. I say carry-on and good for you (and us). As Ben Zander would say… give everyone an A up front and then explain why/how you achieved this A. Live up to a badge, an A, whether someone has given it to you or not!

  2. What I’ve seen in the tech blogosphere and with some journalists: If you write about a particular company, and you have a company connection (financial or special opportunity), then you disclose it: “I googled search engines yesterday and compared results [disclosure: My wife’s haircutter’s cousin owns enough Google stock to attend shareholder meetings].”

    That way, your audience can factor in possible unconscious bias or cognitive dissonance.

  3. Hi Paula.

    Good post, good thoughts.

    I read DJ’s post and agree yet disagree with what he has to say. Which is totally fine.

    Yet, he always makes us think — doesn’t he?

    I guess it depends on what the badge represents and how it was acquired.
    But just by clicking an icon to join ANY community and then clicking another icon to achieve a little sticker or changing your icon color does not truly say anything — does it?? At least not at first.

    For me, I like to look at longevity, at perseverance, at consistency, and at substance.
    Smiles, makes me stop and wonder what that badge just might look like. 🙂

    Good thoughts…I am glad you shared here.
    Will you also post at his site?


  4. Teachers need to be proud of being recognized and I’d recommend more self promotion. If people don’t stand out in the darkness, who will ever see the light.

  5. I agree, Janelle, and have to add an addendum that just because someone has a badge–or doesn’t –does not imply ownership of knowledge. We all have stuff to share and a badge is simply one way of finding connections, or looking for them.

    I really enjoyed seeing all the badges at NECC that people added to their name tags. . . would be fun if someone could make a website for things like that and let people just add them to their blogs or websites to share additional information about themselves.

    What would YOUR badges say? 🙂

    (One of mine might be “tweets too much in meetings”!) LOL

  6. Absolutely true, John. . . all biases should be on the table somehow, although that often doesn’t happen, does it? And, your point about unconscious bias is a good one. Sometimes we don’t even KNOW those subconscious thoughts until someone helps us see them.

    I appreciate your adding this point!

  7. Hey, I love now having a real face with your twitter name! 🙂

    I agree, we all have to self promote–what do you think of the idea in my response to Janelle above? Wouldn’t that be a fun thing to have available?

    Thanks for sharing!

  8. You hit on an idea Janelle and I did too–what if we could design our own badges to show who we are? Kinda is the idea behind avatars, but they are more appearance based than attitude or habitude or life beliefs. . . Would love to see that badge you describe! 🙂

    I thought my response might be too long for a response on a blog, which is why I put it here. . . guess i will go post it there, too, though. Thanks for the suggestion.

    I have to say I agree yet disagree too–the process of GETTING the badge absolutely is exclusive–some do, some don’t, so it IS a have/have not situation.

    However, my point is that if you have it, it does not promote exclusivity by displaying it, especially with the openness of some of the people who belong to those communities online.

    Thanks for responding, Jen! I always appreciate your thoughtful (and thought-provoking) words.

  9. Thanks, Paula for your in depth reply to David’s post and for continuing the conversation. Thanks also for the compliment on how together we enrich each other’s ability to think out of the box.

    I agree with you and here is the comment (copied and pasted) I left at David’s post:

    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


    Best wishes for a successful school year, Paula. ~Lee

  10. Hi Paula, thanks for posting this. I, too, posted a response to David. Here’s what I had to say:

    “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 event 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.”

    Of course, I found a typo (fixed it here).

  11. Pingback: At risk of offending… « Educational Discourse

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *