When you hear the brand VICTORIA’S SECRET many of you probably think of this.
If you’re like me, that’s not exactly the greatest picture to come to mind. It reminds me of a highly sexualized culture for women in which we are valued more for our physical appearance than actual substance. It sets an unrealistic standard for beauty that we are raising our daughters in. Generally, not the image of a company that I would look to as a professional organization that sets an example in the teaching world.
That’s what I thought. I am going on my second summer working at Victoria’s Secret. It started as simply a job. I wanted a break from working with kids and the mall website said they were hiring. I had very little knowledge of the brand besides knowing it was a world-wide lingerie company. I will admit that my opinion has been completely changed and more often than not, I’m wondering if our schools might be able to learn something from the brand.
Where as I used to see Victoria’s Secret as this…
…I now see it as this.
I joke with my manager that I think I do more training with Victoria’s Secret than teaching. While this could be a slight exaggeration, comparing the ratio of hours worked to training, Victoria’s Secret blows any teaching job I’ve ever had out of the water. Employees are empowered through education. The brand has high expectations of performance but provides the necessary support for associates to be successful. What I find to be most powerful is almost every single training or staff meeting starts with THE BRAND STORY. It’s approximately a 6 minute video that describes how Victoria’s Secret came to be, their viewpoint on the products, and who the company wishes to embody from the highest CEO to the newest associate.
You can’t help but feel a little inspired and feel a little more buy in after listening to the story. They’ve figured out how to get thousands of employees invested through a single vision.
This is where it relates to teaching
(thanks for bearing with me…)
Each of us has a story of why we want to teach, how we got started, or a student that keeps us moving forward. This story is dynamic and likely shifts from time to time, but the core beliefs stay the same. How often do we get to share our “Brand Story” as a teacher? It’s usually the first question in an interview. I may casually discuss it with colleagues. But, I think we need to do more.
By sharing our BRAND STORY, we can create a sense of community within a school.
-First, we will understand each individual a little bit more. Whether you agree with them personally or professionally, you can respect the lens that they use to view the teaching world. We can be a little more forgiving of the differing points of view.
-Second, we can connect to colleagues. No two stories will be identical but there is likely some similar feature between any two stories.
-Lastly, we remember our why. Teaching is hard. It chips away parts of ourselves each year. We beat ourselves up over kids we cannot save and academics we can’t move.
Our Brand Story reminds us of the bigger picture and that at the end of each school year what we do matters.
I am soon to be moving into an instructional coaching position. I am joining a school where I know very few of the staff and they do not know me. I will be the outsider. But maybe, if I can share my Brand Story and build trust to learn theirs, we can develop a relationship. Maybe from the top down we can start to build a common mission and make the change we are all working so hard to create.