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 meetup.com 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.