If you’ve joined us for our livestreams, you may already be aware that our Community Manager Adrian used to be a schoolteacher in Japan. To learn more about how his experiences as a schoolteacher align with his current role as a Community Manager at Kongregate, we sat down with him and chatted about his process of getting the job and what skills he learned as a teacher that are still relevant in his current role.
Q: We’ve spoken before about how your previous experience as a teacher was relevant to your current position as a Community Manager, so I’m really curious about how that came into effect during the interview process.
A: I applied to the job with a CV that, let’s be honest, wasn't directly related to the position. I used my cover letter to explain how my teaching experience in Japan could be applied here. It turned out that it played a crucial role in securing the interview!
My previous job involved a lot of methods on how to present information effectively, much like the role here. However, instead of teaching students, I now deliver information to our team and community members. Both jobs are really about presenting information in the most accessible manner possible for the audience.
Q: Now that you’ve been here for over a year, what skills and experiences from being a teacher feel particularly relevant now?
A: Two notable aspects stand out in my experience. First, a heightened awareness of effective communication, and second, accommodating diverse communication needs.
Language - as integral as it is to communication - can sometimes overshadow other critical elements. While I was teaching in Japan the language barrier caused me to rely on alternative methods to communicate, beyond words.
I often used visually appealing worksheets with strategic formatting and white space to guide readers' attention. This helped prevent students from getting lost. Once a student gets lost, it becomes very challenging to bring them back.
During my last three years of teaching at a private school, I faced the unique challenge of instructing young Japanese students, anywhere between the ages of 12 to 14. This involved effective presentation techniques, classroom management, and moderation - akin to overseeing a Discord or comment section. This particular age is a period marked by rapid growth and emotional vulnerability. We’re processing a lot; learning about ourselves and the world around us.
Nowadays, my understanding of this emotional state of growth remains a crucial part of my approach, especially when working with individuals in diverse groups.
Q: Do you have any examples of interactions you’ve had with the community where you’ve brought those skills in?
A: One recurring scenario involves addressing reported negative behavior.
My approach may seem slower than expected to onlookers, but it’s deliberate. I want to make sure all necessary steps are followed when offering support or when investigating issues or reports. It’s important to establish a system of review so that by the time any consequences are applied or action taken, there's a clear record of warnings. There’s a process.
Setting boundaries and communicating consequences is crucial as a community manager. I investigate every report. While it may appear slow to people looking for immediate response, it ultimately minimizes future complaints and builds the community to be stronger. It helps to establish trust and fairness, so no one feels like I’m anything other than impartial. Break the rules; you get a series of warnings. Break enough warnings, and you’ll get some form of discipline. Everyone knows the rules. There’s no confusion about why action was taken, if it results in an action.
But being a community manager - or teacher - is not just about making rules and dishing out bans. Ultimately, the role of a CM is to create a space where the people who are a part of your community can feel welcome.
A huge part of my job is to design and create fun activities for our community and players to engage with. In that way, being a CM and a teacher are very similar! Teaching students really helps with coming up with events for our Discord community.
Young students have a keen sense of fairness. Any perceived imbalance - even if it doesn't favor them - can be upsetting. Their sensitivity to equity helped me with scrutinizing my activities to ensure fairness.
In my current work, I often need to adapt games or Discord bots into events, and they don't always fit seamlessly. However, that experience allows me to anticipate when something might become unfair or unbalanced, and look for ways around that.
Q: Are there any events going on in the Discord right now?
A: Every other week we reveal a new Kongpanion for players to earn on the website. So, starting the Thursday before the reveal, we have a Who’s That Kongpanion event where I share an outline of what the next Kongpanion will be and our community members fill it in, guessing what the next Kongpanion is that they’ll be able to earn for badge of the day. The creativity we see from that activity is really fun and we get to show off the art on the next Livestream!
Adrian has been a Community Manager at Kongregate for over a year after returning to the US from his time in Japan. His favorite games on the site include Konkr.io, Burrito Bison, and Diebrary. Recently, he has even dipped his toes into creating TikToks after some good-natured ribbing from his livestream co-host Sophia.