Apps, Creative Thinking, Education, K-12, Teaching Tools


Shawn Rubin

In yesterday’s post, I gave some suggestions for ways that corporations could support educators.  There are a lot of great educators who want to stay in the classroom, but find themselves spinning their wheels after several years.  For many, the only opportunities to improve their craft come from district-sanctioned professional development.  The only way they can advance in their field is to leave the classroom to become an administrator.

There are a growing number of teachers, however, who are trying to innovate while continuing to teach.  Different words are being used to describe this group of trailblazers – teacherpreneurs and intrapeneurs being the most frequent that I’ve seen.

At a recent session at SXSWedu, called, “The Competitive Advantage of Teacher Leadership,” some people who are very familiar with teachers as innovators spoke about their experiences and what they think needs to happen to encourage more educators to follow this path.  Shawn Rubin (@shawncrubin) was one of them.  He recently, with the support of administrators and many other mentors, developed a product called Metryx that he saw a strong need for during his teaching day.  But he acknowledges that his situation was very unique in the support that he received.  As Rubin commented, “Education space has a bank teller mentality.  You work in your cubicle and do what you’re supposed to be doing.”  Collaboration and innovation are not promoted on a regular basis in our profession.

Barnett Berry (@barnettctq) agrees.  During the session I attended, he represented the Center for Teaching Quality, which “gives time and space to teachers to incubate their own ideas while continuing to teach.” He also said, “We don’t utilize all of the fabulous teachers we have now.”

Along the same lines, I recently read an article entitled, “Where are Educators in the EdTech Revolution?”  It stated, “some classroom educators worry that corporations are gathering input from industry consultants rather than tapping into the veteran experience of the very teachers who will utilize their apps.”  The claim is made that many tech companies turn to the younger, newer teachers, who they perceive to be more tech-savvy, rather than tapping the knowledge of experienced, master teachers who may be able to contribute much more to the conversation.

How can we, as teachers, develop more support for our innovative ideas?  Shawn Rubin’s advice was to use to find others in your area who have similar interests.  In addition, he mentioned a group called “Edunderground” that he started in his own city.  They meet regularly at a local business office to network and bounce ideas off each other.  Also, try to connect with companies like the Center for Teaching Quality, or E-Line Media (whose founder, Alan Gershenfeld, also spoke at the session), who wholeheartedly support the idea of teacherpreneurs.

There are some teachers out there with amazing ideas that could revolutionize education.  They just need some help to make it happen.

(Click here for additional information about teacherpreneurs from Ariel Sacks, and here for more information about teacherpreneurs from the Center for Teaching Quality.)

6 thoughts on “Teacherpreneurship”

  1. Great to see Terri. There are more people out there. The power is in making connections, sharing ideas, and taking action. If you want to start a local discussion and mastermind group, let me know! I’m in.

  2. Yes! A call to action! It’s what teachers need to do. Unfortunately, one of the biggest roadblocks to teachers stretching beyond their cubicle is the profession itself. The union (at least in my district) needs to step back and realize that people who want to excel in this profession are going to be working beyond contract hours. Quit putting a target on the backs of Master Teachers so that they hide in their rooms, keeping their excellence hidden to all but their students.

  3. Cool take on the bank teller-cubicle thing. I have a couple of points. First off, in the corporate space the trend has been moving towards training online for quite some time. Teacher-led courses are an endangered species there. Second: EdCamp.

    EdCamps are organic holistic professional development events of the un-conference variety. They’re hosted at schools and organized by volunteers who work in K-12. Held on Saturdays they have no keynote and no pre-set agenda. What you get at an EdCamp is what the community of attendees want and are able to give.

    I’m an instructional designer; i have lots of experience in corporate training, higher education and the federal government. The past few years I’ve been concerned because my professional development had stagnated. Going to events like those held by ASTD and others was a non-starter given their expense; plus, it was hard for me to justify going to a conference because it was difficult to say exactly how it would help me be a better designer. So I started looking at low and no cost professional development. At the top of the list was EdCamp.

    I have benefited greatly since my first, EdCampWestTexas in Abilene, Texas. Learning about things like Genius Hour and Teaching Like A Pirate was magic. I was able to immediately apply what I had learned after spending six hours with K-12 teachers, librarians and support staff. I’ve been to seven EdCamps so far.

    I’m sad to say that I haven’t seen many people like me at EdCamps. If you want to foster innovation and professional development between teachers and their counterparts in the other segments of the educational community a very good place to start is EdCamp.

    Oh yeah, I’ve also joined TCEA and regularly participate in tweetchats. It’s amazing the stuff that I’m learning and sharing in the latter.

    1. What a coincidence that you should leave this comment! I was just speaking about this with the person I featured in today’s post (Think Outside the School) and we are looking into putting together an EdCamp. I absolutely agree that EdCamps are a wonderful opportunity for differentiated learning for teachers. I also agree that Twitter chats are awesome for PD. I have found that, by far, I have learned the most from participating in these than in any PD I’ve attended. Thank you so much for your comment!

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