Teaching is a relatively secure job, so why am I talking about marketing yourself? Because marketing is all about building an image and recognition. And to be even more specific, according to Seth Godin, a marketing guy whose blog I read because as a small business owner I know I have to do marketing, marketing is actually what other people are saying about you.
And this point is critical for teachers. Marketing is what other people are saying about you. And what other people say about you is what determines your reputation. And one day, your reputation may be the only thing standing between you and an angry student.
I've said for many years that the best defense a teacher ever has against false allegations is their own reputation. And reputation is really nothing more than what other people say, or think, about you.
If there comes a day when a student or parent accuses you of some improper action, your reputation will be the most important thing you have to protect yourself. If the accusation does not match the reputation you have among others, they will be slow to believe the accusation, and will give you the benefit of the doubt whenever there is uncertainty or ambiguity in the facts.
On the other hand, if your reputation is not secure, allegations of improper conduct will be much easier for others to believe. And even the mere appearance of impropriety - or the appearance of an opportunity for impropriety - is enough to open your reputation up to doubts.
This is why teachers should always remember the difference between being a trusted professional and being a friend. Why teachers should never be alone behind closed doors with a student. Why teachers should be careful not to "play favorites." And why teachers should notify an administrator or counselor immediately if a student shares intimate personal feelings or personal problems with the teacher.
Never leave room for the appearance of impropriety. Your reputation, and possibly your career, depends on it.