Branding Your Classroom

What We Learned from Branding Our Class

I first started thinking about classroom branding after reading Gary Abud's resources a few years ago. The idea made sense to me. Instead of changing a culture, why not build one from the ground up?

And the idea of clarifying a philosophy, making a logo and sharing it everywhere sounded fun.

I finally had a chance to try this when Brenda June and I teamed up to do our Learning Chats project. I'll outline a process below, but we didn't exactly go about it in that order. What I describe below is the ideal I wish we would have used.

The TLDR Version:  This has been a success. It's one of the most promising things to come out of our grant project. Brenda and I both look forward to trying it again in the future. 

Step 1:  Clarify your vision.

You have to start with what your brand will stand for. What values do you want associated with your class?

In Brenda's middle school math class, we knew we wanted to put ideals in place like those Jo Boaler wrote about it Mathematical Mindsets. Brenda wanted to establish that culture and she already had lists of some of those things on her walls.

Along with that, we opened it up for discussion with the students. We told them we hoped our brand would be used on a website where we'd post our learning tutorials. Right away, they knew we were communicating to a larger audience than just our class or school.

Having that discussion with the class was one of the most exciting things in the Learning Chats project. It wasn't so much the list we generated. (In fact, the students had been influenced by Brenda's thinking already. The list they came up with was more or less her list.) What encouraged me was how much they loved being a part of this. Growth mindset ideas were important to them and they liked taking part in casting the vision.

Step 2:  Trim the list down to 5 items or less.

Take your list along with anything the students submit and narrow it down to a manageable list of core values. We in our project, I wrote a list based on my discussions with Brenda and her class. I sent it to her for input and she used that to make a poster for her wall.
Brenda's poster of core values, along with other posters we
created for the project

Step 3:  Make a brand name, logo and a slogan.

After you trim down your list of value, see if it lends itself to a brand name. Is there a short name that incorporates one to three of the main values?

As another approach, just come up with a catchy name and make the association to your values very apparent. You'll notice our brand name, Room 10 Learning Chats, doesn't directly say much about our list of values. It includes learning, but that's about it. I wanted to use a name based on our district, school or classroom. Some teachers base it on their name, like Mr. Smith's Kinders. The main thing is that it's unique and easy to remember.

I suggest giving it some thought and possibly open it up to brainstorming from your class. Once you have a list of a few ideas you can live with, have the class vote for their favorite.

When you have a name, work on the logo. I used Google Drawings to create our design. Again, you might want to let students submit ideas. They could build it in a simple tool like Google Drawings or just sketch them on paper. You or possibly the school art teacher could make a polished version based on the logo you and the students choose.

Finally, turn your list of values into a slogan or value statement. I like to go by Seth Godin's advice here. He says, "If you can't state your position in eight words or less, you don't have a position." I suggest you (rather than as a class) take some time to really nail that list of values with one concise statement.

Brenda and I actually didn't get this far with our brand definition. See the links to TeachThought and The Art of Education at the end of this article for some excellent examples of slogans.

Step 4:  Make it visible.

This was the fun part for me. I really enjoyed stamping our Room 10 Learning Chats graphic on slides, signs, videos and the website.

This allowed the class to have some ownership on those materials. I was also subtlety reminding them they were part of our bigger mission. Brenda tells me she looks forward to doing this again next year and making sure it appears on all digital and printed materials.

We took one of our signs from our resource page (it proved to be popular on Twitter), personalized it for Brenda's class and turned it into stickers for all the students' desks.
Stickers on the students desk with a message inspired by
one of Alice Keeler's tweets.

Other Resources

Here are some other posts you might want to explore for more examples of branding.