A few years ago, it hit me like a ton of bricks that I would be leaving the classroom. I just knew. Yes, I’ve had many moments that sparked a certain desire to return but I know in my heart that a return isn’t on the horizon.
I’ve worked collaboratively with a few edtech companies through advocacy programs and in a majority of those cases, when it came to classrooms…edtech didn’t “get it”. Marketing people within those organizations seemed to be just as disconnected sometimes as well. When money is on the line, it can easily become more about shoving “the product” down the throats of teachers/schools than it is about understanding how that product impacts learning.
I am very fortunate in having spent time with two very different companies, SMART and Discovery Ed, over the past few weeks. I can’t even compare the two as they were both completely different experiences. Discovery Ed focused more on building relationships with pedagogy interwoven. My experience with Discovery was more about teachers supporting other teachers. It was more about the community itself than Discovery Ed’s media which speaks volumes to their understanding about brand advocacy.
Build the community because the most valuable tool in the classroom is the teacher.
SMART focused on teaching about their product and with so many changes in terms of product focus, it was necessary. In addition, SMART’s event united educators from all over the globe. In most of those cases, these educators were receiving training for the very first time as they are THE resource for their country. There were focus groups as well as opportunities for educators to express their thoughts on SMART’s products and direction. They wanted honesty and I can definitely say that we did that. I can also say that SMART listened. I appreciated that. When you have 76 educators from multiple countries leave your building feeling heard and valued, you’ve done something right.
Now, that is not to say that SMART did not focus on community. However, instead of having multiple structured community building events, teachers found a way to communicate and do that themselves and this model worked as well.
At the start of this post, I mentioned that I knew when I would leave the classroom. Today, I knew that I have some decisions to make regarding my future in k-12. I love teaching, developing, planning, connecting…learning.
I’ve made no moves or decisions. I just have a feeling. It’s the same feeling that I felt when I left the classroom except this one is much stronger. I know that what I have to offer is something that is missing in a lot of places.
When you know…you know.
Thankfully, I don’t have to figure a thing out right now.
My goal for the next year is to serve our kids and teachers at the highest capacity. I will take what I have learned, share and do so with the voices of learners constantly in my ears.
I will do so with one idea leading the way…
Relationships matter over products.