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For most of my life, I've been surrounded by educators. I grew up with parents who were educators. After my football
days were over, I taught Spanish at a local high school. I helped
coach my old high school football team. My college roommate
is a teacher. See what I mean?
These experiences taught me a lot about education,
leadership and what it takes to be in front of a classroom. From these
experiences, alongside my own time spent managing an online community, I believe
teachers would make great community managers. After all, a
classroom is a community!
1) Teachers are Constant
Teachers must master a particular subject. Whether it’s English, math, science or a foreign language, teachers
are constantly researching and learning in order to be
the expert in the room. In order to teach, you have to be a good learner and
constantly stay current. There is a saying “
you want to learn something, teach it,
” which illustrates the fact that in
order to teach, one must first learn.
Community managers must also be constant learners. Consider all the changes community managers face:
- The ways we can engage with community members
- The strategies we implement
- Our community members’ needs
- The technology that we have to help manage and engage with our community
to be an effective community manager, one must be a constant
. Since teachers are accustomed to constant learning, they can easily
learn about community management, your organization’s goals and strategy, and
how to execute your strategy online.
2) Teachers are Great Time Managers
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community managers need to be time-aware in order to handle tasks
that need to be done on a daily, weekly, monthly, and annual basis. Whether
it’s executing your organization’s strategy or responding to your
community’s questions, a community manager needs to be proficient at time
This is where teachers shine. I didn’t really
have an appreciation for this until I spent a year teaching.
We had to do roll call, say the pledge of allegiance, teach the lesson of the
day, allow time for questions, handle disruptive students, review homework and (of course)
handle any fire alarms that got pulled during the day. Teachers face time management challenges on a daily, weekly, and semester-long basis. Balancing
all that is not easy.
3) Teachers Are Great Leaders
I loved to see students come to school motivated to learn, but it didn't always happen that way. Even in some of the
best schools, some students simply aren’t motivated to learn. This is one of the
many areas where leadership comes into play. Teachers have to lead
the class in several ways.
Teachers set the tone for interactions in the
classroom, they set the precedence on how discipline will be enforced, and they figure out what motivates each student to perform. This ability
to motivate is a
great talent and is one that can be made better over time.
In a similar manner,
community managers are the leaders of
. Some members cause problems or
bring a certain level of negativity to your community, while other members are your brand’s superfans. Being able to balance the
various personalities in your community
is a form of leadership. As the community manager, you lead your community, striving to make it better and increase engagement.
4) Teachers Handle the small details
A teacher has to
manage every detail about the class. When I started teaching, I quickly learned that there were many details I didn’t
know existed. From taking attendance, to administering tests, to following
the curriculum coordinator’s semester-long strategic plans, to reviewing
homework, there are numerous details
that a teacher has to manage on a daily basis. It can be overwhelming to manage all these details.
manager has to manage details at various levels
. Community managers must approve site membership requests, moderate content submissions and set permissions across the site, all while ensuring the community is achieving the organization's larger objectives.
5) Teachers are Great at Communicating
Teachers must be great communicators. Since students represent various learning styles, a teacher must be able to
explain concepts and principles to these
in a way that each learner/learning style can understand the
concepts. Some learners may be more visual while others are more
tactile. The tactile learners may need to have hands-on learning, while others may be learn better by
Conveying concepts to all these learning styles within a
short time frame is not always an easy task. As a result, a teacher is very good
about connecting with all personality types and learning styles in order to
effectively convey a message to them.
Community managers also must master a similar skillset to
ensure that messages are effectively communicated and understood. The interactions may not be face-to-face like a teacher’s interactions
are, but the
community manager can still take measures to ensure clear and understandable communications to members.
communities represent various learning styles just like students in a classroom. Consider that your community picks up on messaging in various
ways, so try to evenly distribute your messaging in multiple formats: blog posts, banners, videos and audio.
Connections Academy blog
6) Teachers Creatively Operate Within the School's Guidelines
Teachers must know how to operate within specific guidelines and
curriculum. Whether the guidelines are set by the district or the school, a teacher is accustomed to creatively operating within those guidelines. When I taught Spanish, I was able to
incorporate music, videos, games, partner projects, skits and art to address students' varied learning styles, all while operating within the
guidelines of my department. I found that
students could learn
anything, so long as I made the learning process fun.
Learning ended up being a
side product of having fun and we did it within the curriculum!
Community managers have guidelines to follow as well. These parameters may differ from organization to
organization, but there will be playing rules. The community
manager needs to creatively engage with the community within those
parameters. If you have messages to communicate or tactics to implement, be
sure to get that done within the guidelines of your organization, but
as creative and fun as possible to increase engagement
in your community.
7) Teachers Know When to
spend the majority of their time instructing, but over time the good teachers
become seasoned at knowing when they should listen to their students. This
ability to understand when to listen is critical in leading any type of
Likewise, one of the traits of a good community manager is
knowing when to listen. Often times your community members can be directly (or
indirectly) telling you important information, making feature requests, or
creating new ideas right in front of you. If you are not listening to
your community, you can miss all this vital info. Channel your
inner-teacher and look for the moments when it may be
best to listen instead of
8) Teachers understand how to Measure
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Teachers do a lot of grading and complete a lot of report
cards. Measuring success is second nature to them. Students
are taught concepts, then work through projects putting those concepts
into action. Shortly thereafter, they are tested to denote their
comprehension of concepts. In short, the student’s level of
understanding is a form of measurement (of the teacher's teaching). Teachers understand that measuring success is
vital to the development of their students.
Community managers understand that organizations want to validate ROI (or impact) for having an online community. This causes community managers to implement some
form of measurement for their community
so they can report on success and
. In nearly every type of organization, there
are metrics being tracked. Teachers understand the
importance of measuring results just as community managers do.
9) Teachers Understand Lesson
have to create and follow lesson plans over the course of a semester. These
lesson plans typically have to be submitted for review to the department head
or curriculum coordinator, but they represent the teacher’s game plan for the
semester. Yes, there are snow days, students who miss days, pep rallies, and
other things that cause teachers to have to update or adjust their lesson
plans. Teachers must not only be great at time management (and adjusting
on the fly), they must also execute strategy on
Community management operates within similar parameters.
There is a strategy to how you manage your community and goals that you want to
achieve. Every now and then, things come up. Your site may go down or have an influx of traffic and you must respond accordingly. The need to execute your strategy remains even when your to-do list stacks up on top of you and even
when your site may be down!
10) Teachers know how to Engage
they are successful when they have their students deeply engaged with the
subject matter they are teaching. Engagement is a win in the classroom, just as
it is in online communities. As a teacher, there are all kinds of possible distractions
that can prevent engagement from occurring.
Community Managers can also have distractions that can lead to lower engagement. The distractions may be internal to your organization, or they may be a new technology you deployed. It could be that members are spending too much time in one
area of your community that requires a lot of your attention. Regardless of the
number of distractions in a classroom or an online community, seeking out
engagement is still a vital factor.
Teachers are a "jack of all trades,"
just like community managers. I hope that you have found this helpful. If
you happen to be a teacher looking for a new career, give community management
a shot. It worked well for me.
Use the Comments area below to share your thoughts on the similarities you see between community managers and teachers. Thanks!
Read my related blog series on why your online community needs a good quarter back. It's a three part series. Get
started with Part 1.