Reviewed by Rita Platt
Educators, you have stories, experiences, and insights to share. You belong to a profession and that means you have an obligation to work collaboratively to build the well of shared knowledge that all educators dip from. There are many ways to do that.
In your school you might let others use your lesson plans, host an intern, mentor a new teacher, or serve on committee. Or, you might even consider widening your circle of influence outside of your school.
Professionals Contribute to the Profession
Jenny Grant Rankin’s latest book, Sharing Your Education Expertise with the World, is a useful guide to help educators contribute to the larger education community and beyond (the world as noted in the title!) It is packed with great ideas and helpful tips, hints, and resources for any educator who wants to widen her/his sphere of influence and/or move their career to the next level.
Moreover, Rankin uses her uniquely empathic, supportive, kind, humorous, and sometimes engagingly nerdy* voice to rejuvenate, energize, inspire, and maybe even cajole readers to believe they can and should share their expertise with others.
Okay, before I go any further in this review, I have to come clean on a couple of things. One, I LOVE Dr. Rankin. Anyone who follows her or me on Twitter can catch me fawning over her several times a week. I first met her (virtually) when I read and reviewed her incredibly empathetic book on beating teacher burnout, First Aid for Teacher Burnout. I liked it so much and so appreciated her work that I reached out to Rankin and was delighted to find that she was as open and kind in real life as she seems to be in her books.
Two, Rankin has supported my own burgeoning work as a writer not only with kind comments and lots of online sharing, but I am even mentioned in Sharing Your Education Expertise with the World (check out page 116; I am FAMOUS!!!) Soooo, while this might not seem like a totally bias-free review, don’t let that deter you. The truth is, this book is good. Really good. Like totally helpful, practical, fun-to-read good.
In telling the reader the purpose of the book, Rankin writes,
“Applying this book’s strategies will allow you to efficiently and effectively share your expertise with a wider audience…This will typically enhance your resume and career and will likely enhance your sense of professionalism and accomplishment” (p. xvii).
This content, divided into five parts and 13 chapters (see table above for an overview), lives up to that purpose. Additionally, readers can access a virtual treasure trove of online resources, many of which I have already put to good use!
What Stands Out
Throughout the entire 304 pages of the book, two things stand out. One, Rankin loves educators and really wants to help us. Two, Rankin is keenly aware of equity issues and actively seeks ways to help marginalized groups share their voices in impactful ways.
Rankin has the ability to make educators feel like anything is possible! I published my first article in 2004 in Phi Delta Kappan (PDK). Publishing in a distinguished journal had long been a goal of mine and to make it happen, I took a correspondence course on magazine article writing. I remember my instructor telling me to aim lower than PDK so I wouldn’t be disappointed. I ignored her advice thinking it couldn’t hurt to shoot for the stars.
Rankin would never offer such silly advice! She clearly believes in every-day working educators and her enthusiasm is contagious! When I was reading the section on TED Talks, I was truly convinced that I could give one (now, I’ll be honest, that feeling quickly faded, but for a few beautiful pages, I was a superstar!)
In her series of shared “secrets and tips” (p. xiv), she freely offers her own experience and her convincingly sincere belief that educators from all walks of life have expertise that when shared benefits the children we all seek to serve.
What I find particularly wonderful is Rankin’s special care to include frequent reference to matters of inequity. She dives into this issue with a heart and head tilted toward amelioration, writing,
“This book celebrates the need for all education experts to share what they know…Yet women, people of color, and LGBT+ individuals face discrimination in their efforts to share…I hate that the statistics on bias surround us, yet they fire me up to find opportunities for improvement. Please get fired up with me, and hold this issue close to your heart..” (p. 7).
To that end, Rankin offers frequent tips throughout the book to help folks who typically face discrimination amplify their voices and share their knowledge.
To Sum it Up
On page 3, Rankin writes,
“The world needs education experts like you – knowledgeable heroes – to take the leading role in [education-related] conversations. Sharing your wisdom can enlighten decision makers, inform communities, help other educators improve practice, further research, and widen your impact on students.”
I truly believe that this book will help all who read it to effectively contribute their knowledge. Not only that, it’ll offer a laugh or two as well!
∗ ”Nerdy” is not an insult, and if you have any doubts about Rankin’s street-cred as a nerd, read page 82 where she writes in Dothraki.
Rita Platt (@ritaplatt) is a National Board Certified Teacher with master’s degrees in reading, library, and leadership. Her experience includes teaching learners in remote Alaskan villages, inner cities, and rural communities. She currently is a school principal, teaches graduate courses for the Professional Development Institute and blogs at Heart of the School for MiddleWeb.