yong zhao

The Rise of the “Edupreneur”


by Howard Chan @socratech 

If you ever have a moment to watch Yong Zhao speak, this is a worthwhile ISTE keynote he delivered back in 2012 and still very relevant today: https://youtu.be/ijSxt94vhf0. After reflecting on Dr. Yong Zhao’s message, it reinvigorated a concept I hold dearly in this 21st century innovation economy: taking ownership of your own professional career. To quote Dr. Zhao from his keynote, “you don’t wait for someone to create a job for you, you go out there to create a job for yourself.”

Over the past few years, I have met many innovative teachers who are expanding their own horizons and venturing beyond the classroom. Most recently, I have observed teachers who have written books, produced educational videos, created hashtags used by many, launched #edcamps, designed apps for iPads, garnered thousands of Twitter followers, developed global online conferences and continue to facilitate professional development around the world. Some teachers are considered “Rockstars” and have become professional icons to many; in fact, I bet some are making more money on the speaking circuit than they probably made as a teacher back at their school district. I certainly know a few teachers who completely left the classroom and branched into independent consulting. It has become an entrepreneurial endeavor based from their classroom experiences and I couldn’t be more happier for them. 

It is important to note that many are not driven by the money (being an entrepreneur doesn’t always equate to monetary gain), although I am sure a little side money doesn’t hurt. As an educator, I am excited, encouraged and support how these teachers have branded themselves and evolved their career to something bigger than they have probably imagined going into this field. As Dr. Yong Zhao highlighted in his keynote, it is the rise of the creative class and people with unique specialized skills. The talented educators I have met are as creative and business savvy as anyone, and have pragmatic skills of authentic practitioners with the entrepreneurial spirit of sharing in “branded” ways (whether driven by $ or not). It has been more than three years since this keynote, I can safely say the spirit of Zhao’s message is embodied in the rise of what many are calling the “Edupreneur.” How’s that for creating a job for yourself?