If Not LinkedIn, Then What?
Looking For a Place Teachers Truly Share Their Experiences and Expertise

I had the pleasure of hearing Jeff Weiner speak a few weeks ago. He is the CEO of LinkedIn—not necessarily a favorite gathering place for teachers. Teachers see it more as a networking site for the business world rather than something for them. But Jeff’s bigger visions kept me listening.

Jeff talked about his personal vision statement: To expand the world’s collective wisdom and compassion. Wow. Shouldn’t we all have as ambitious a life’s goal? I suddenly felt like such a slacker, also knowing he is only 45. He said there are over three billion members of the global workforce and over 347 million members on LinkedIn. While his organization’s mission is to connect the world’s professionals, he reminded me that a vision (aspiration, dream) and a mission (concrete and quantifiable) are not the same. LinkedIn’s vision is to create economic opportunity for everyone.

He believes the way to realize his company’s vision and his own personal mission statement is to use “compassion in management.” I know, it may sound a little new age to you. But he insists:  “Compassion in management is no longer new age.” His colleague Fred Kofman, LinkedIn’s philosopher of leadership and organizational development, concurred, “It isn’t weird anymore.”  Both proceeded to talk about their leadership visions and how the goal of a leader isn’t to get someone to follow you and pull them along. You want someone to “ride a maverick” with you. I loved that image.

With all this ambition, I kept thinking about how LinkedIn would have to change to be more accessible to teachers and the enormous amount of compassion that they bring to schools every day. What kind of community would all 3.7 million U.S. teachers want to belong to? What values might the community have? How might we bring together the reasons teachers teach, their stories and their helpful advice to other teachers on how to improve practice? Would the site look more like Humans of New York with amazing everyday stories? Would it have the rich resources of the Teaching Channel or LearnZillion?

I think there is power in bringing together the experience and the expertise. For teachers that experience is not captured in years worked or students taught the way people in business might count profits, budget size or the number of people managed. A teacher’s experience is captured in the stories that connect every teacher in the world to every other teacher in the world. No one else has that experience. I think that would be a good starting place to connect the world’s 45 million-plus teachers (UNESCO).