It’s teacher appreciation week and my goodness — — we are thankful for our educators. This year the public became aware of what many of us already knew: teachers are resourceful, resilient, and resolved. Teachers know what works for students and will do whatever it takes to provide the best educational experience possible.
We frequently hear from our advocate partners, however, that districts and schools often make classroom technology & curriculum purchases without the direct input of the people who know students best: the teachers. Or, they make purchases without realizing the individuality of teaching styles. The Gates Foundation confirmed this:
“Few teachers (18 percent) choose most of the education technology they use, even though they are largely responsible for incorporating it into instruction.”
As a result, classrooms have little-used technology, curriculums that collect dust, or tools that teachers use that feel embarrassing or ineffective.
When we started building our SEL platform, Carousel, we knew we wanted to do things differently: start with educators at every step. From product design to pricing, to our sales strategy, educators have been involved. High school teachers in Colorado beta tested our product with students to give feedback (and you can too!). Teachers in Nebraska talked to us about their hopes for student resilience and achievement. Counselors in Ohio helped us think through what affordability really means to a teacher. As a result of this ongoing feedback loop, we believe we have designed something pretty darn cool.
Frankly, we have been coached otherwise: funders and partners said to start with the top-down approach: sell to the districts for quicker wins. This didn’t jive with how we saw our Benefit Corporation thriving. When starting our company, we decided that we wanted balanced growth, a long-term outlook, and to focus on impact above all else. We believe we are here to change the face of SEL for the long run, and in order to do that, educators must believe in what we do and students must find our product engaging. Students remain in an SEL crisis and we’re challenging the conventional wisdom of leaving teachers out of decisions that directly affect our youth.
So, teachers; cheers to you — -you deserve this upcoming break as the end of the school year approaches. Thank you for being there for students through the pandemic and always, for changing the future, and for changing our product. We have built something that will make you proud.
P.S. — In a couple of weeks,
Joe Ewing will share some big “aha” moments we have learned from teachers, so follow us on Medium, Insta, Facebook, LinkedIn, or wherever you get your social media fix to see how teachers are shaping SEL through Carousel.