It’s OK to brand myself

The recruiting season has started and I have just made my professional website go live. I have probably spent many hours crafting CVs over the years.  Two years ago, my CV looked like this:


Trying to fit everything onto one page (wasn’t that always the golden rule?)  and moving away from the boring passport photo, I changed it to this:


Then I tinkered with social icons and my SPELTAC project to show off I was connected:



And now I have to say I am really very chuffed with this:

Marcelle Houterman



As I was snooping around Kim Cofino’s website to get some inspiration (read: steal ideas) for my own, I watched her keynote Social Media Killed the Hollywood Star:

I made a connection. Kim says in her keynote that Youtube stars are demonstrating their learning in great new ways. They are learning confidence, relating yo your audience, being charismatic and the list is too long to put on one slide. She gives the example of a fashion star, but she reminds us it’s not about the content, it’s about the community they are building. They are more popular than Hollywood stars, because they are not just consuming they are creating.

And do you know what? Since I realized this two years ago when I joined Twitter and started blogging, since I realized I can also be ‘someone’ if I create… I can put everything I I know and everything I can offer out there. I do not have the desire to be a Youtube star, but it did teach me confidence… and a new sense of what is possible

Why is it possible?

It’s possible because I now know how to build a website and a thing or two about ‘branding myself’, and I understand the importance and power of visuals for communication. I understand that humans are essentially visual learners. I also understand that we learn through our connected communities. My tech coach, Mr. Matthew Dolmont said in his reply to my comment:

“a brand doesn’t mean our philosophy has to be for sale… it’s a symbol of a system of values that we represent”

And as a language specialist, another thing struck me… as we learn form each other in our connected communities, we are also learning how to use language to express our thoughts. We come across things that people write and we think, yes! This is exactly what I think- only I didn’t have the words to say it in that way.

I wonder why this is not an integral part of what we teach our students. Why are we still only mainly talking about reading, writing, speaking and listening? Why are we not empowering them with these new literacies and connected learning? I agree with Sylvia Rosenthal Tolisano when she says “no more time for babysteps“. As teachers we can take huge steps as we learn ourselves, together with our students.

As we are learning, feedback in our connected communities is key. If you are still reading this, I would most grateful if you could have a quick look at my professional website and answer one or two (or all if you are feeling generous!) of these questions about

Is it clear what my areas of expertise are?

Is it clear what I have achieved?

Does it show my educational philosophy (I tried to achieve this without writing five paragraphs)?

Does it show I love working with children?

Does it show, in the words of Patrick Holt  that I am a lead learner?

What would you hire me for?

Why would you decide not to contact me?




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6 Responses

  1. NKS says:

    So so interesting….

    I love this questions; Why are we not empowering them with these new literacies and connected learning?

    It really stuck with me.

    I just don’t get it. It’s like things just get too fast-paced at the start of a year and then we are scrambling to keep up. Currently I’m at a new school, in a new position where it is a 1:1 environment but I dont’ know how to keep up with it and I usually consider myself a tech integrationist (is that a word?!) It is nutty. I hardly ask the kids to take out their laptops because I’m still too unsure how to use them but you just have to move on with a little at a time. I’m dying to use the common sense media lessons with my students which I have used before but I’m not sure how to fit it in with everything else.

    I love your online portfolio/CV. It’s really eye-catching and interesting and most of all, easy to follow. Your personal site is ri-di-cu-lous!! OH my gosh. I feel almost intimidated to even look at it and think you’re a coetail-er like me… but I wouldn’t even be able to put that together. Wow. Where are you looking to move to!?

    I’m going to end this comment so I can go stalk your entire blog and ideas… and steal from you now 🙂


    • Hi NKS,

      Thanks for your positive feedback. I agree with you, you need to move on a little at a time with technology. I am frustrated one minute when something isn’t working and when I look again the kids have mastered it. I forgot who said ‘learning is messy’, but it’s so true! Two years ago I would never have thought I would build a professional website, but through connected learning I have achieved so much! It’s a powerful thing that I hope to help my students with too.


  2. For me self-promotion can be an uncomfortable enterprise, and so it’s inspiring to see the thoughtful way in which you refined your brand. The site makes it very clear who you are as an educator. To offer some feedback, it takes a bit more digging around the site to find a some of the things you asked about like your (impressive) achievements and leadership. I wonder if they could be made more prominent or somehow previewed on the front page.
    Thanks for sharing this personal journey. You’ve made me think about how I can make my own message and values available to others at any time rather than just during recruiting season.

    • Hi Cristopher,
      Thanks so much for your feedback. I will definitely start thinking about how I can make what I have achieved stand out more.


  3. Hi Marcelle,

    I was intrigued by your post a few weeks back, but wanted to wait until I had a good chunk of time to write a reflective comment. So, better late than never, right?

    I was inspired by your title. My husband and I have started a job search this fall as well, and we’ve had many conversations around this topic. We struggle with the idea of branding ourselves, mainly because we both come from upbringings where this idea could be seen as bragging or inauthentic. Our “work and accomplishments should speak for themselves” was the message we often heard. Now we find ourselves somewhere in between; recognizing the importance of an online presence that captures our strengths and accomplishments, yet not wanting to overdo it. In our hesitation to really put ourselves out there, I sense we are missing out on some huge learning, which you captured well in this post.

    I especially liked this quote:

    “And do you know what? Since I realized this two years ago when I joined Twitter and started blogging, since I realized I can also be ‘someone’ if I create… I can put everything I know and everything I can offer out there. I do not have the desire to be a Youtube star, but it did teach me confidence… and a new sense of what is possible.”

    It is clear that you are confident and open to what is possible. You’ve clearly learned and grown from reaching out to your globally connected EAL community, and your students and colleagues certainly have benefited from this as well. Your example has inspired me to get out there and connect even more (and maybe even steal a few ideas from your website!).

    When looking through your website with your questions in mind, here are my impressions:

    Areas of expertise are crystal clear. One question: How do you manage workshop requests from other schools? I saw that you are available at limited times, is this most likely due to your teaching schedule? Do you mostly provide online PD through SPELTAC?

    Your achievements are also clear.

    I love your concise educational philosophy and will try to model mine after yours

    Your dedication to incorporating new literacies and connected learning in EAL programs to enrich students’ learning is evident. I would like to see more of how you work with students, what your lessons or classroom environment looks like, testimonials from kids, etc. Your professional development/coordinator profile is incredibly strong; perhaps you can beef up your teaching achievements.

    I would hire you if I were looking for someone to organize/coordinate/enrich a K-12 EAL program. I would also hire you as a teacher, although it appears from your brand that you are more interested in moving into a full coordinator or professional developer role. Is this accurate?

    I think it would be crazy not to hire you for any EAL or English literature-related job. I’m not an administrator and therefore don’t have experience with hiring teachers; however, I would guess that some administrators might think you were overqualified for an EAL job that didn’t also involve some type of learning leader or coordinator role. Not sure about that, though. I think that’s pretty outdated thinking, though. Who wouldn’t want an overqualified teacher with your experience?

    Hope this helps and thanks for allowing such a long post! I’m working on conciseness.

    Good luck with the job search.


    • Hi Jen, Thank you so much for taking the time and effort to write this incredibly detailed feedback- I cannot tell you how grateful I am! I take all your comments on board. And I recognize what you say about the ‘bragging, in fact I sometimes worry about that still. What if an employer still has those views too- will my website put him off? In answer to your question about my schedule: the only time I can potentially do any school visits is during my holidays.. so that is why I put ‘limited’. SPELTAC is still very much evolving. Now I am moving on to another (yet to be found!) job, that could take on another form… so I wanted to leave it open. I agree with you that my teaching could be more clear on the site.. but I’m hoping this will become clear by clicking on the three blog links under ‘professional writing’. As a reader you would have to do some work for that by clicking around.. so perhaps I could include a section with teaching achievements, or ‘who I am in the classroom’ with links to specific blog posts. Thank you for that idea! I am indeed looking to move to a position of leadership or coaching- if given the chance. But I still do love and get immense inspiration from teaching, so wouldn’t want to step out of the classroom completely. Best wishes, Marcelle

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