I love my job. It takes me into many classrooms around my region where I try to engage with students using ICT. Without trying to sound “cocky”, I can’t recall a classroom where I have left the students less than buzzing after the lesson. I also spend a good deal of time with groups of teachers, working with them and assisting them to use powerful tools in ways that are relevant and inform their teaching. I try and draw on my experience of 25+ years in schools as teacher and administrator when assisting other teachers.
For most of my working life I have done the above in the employ of a single school, although like a lot of my colleagues I have sometimes been contracted to other bodies to do presentations and workshops. I now work full time for a private entity that has an extremely popular e-learning portal for Mathematics. The company is committed to schools and teachers rather than parents and tutors and it is anything but hard sell. To me this is a fantastic job as I live and work my passion, schools using appropriate 21C tools, and I am working with many schools who are committed to making positive change in the lives of children.
Interesting for me that recently a school that I was working with me that they had not replied to my email because they “get a lot of offers from vendors and they would do nothing but reply if they responded to them all”. I am not talking about a bulk email, it was a personal one following up on an enquiry from a teacher.
I have to say I was a bit taken aback by this. The school in question is a fee-paying school that does promote its services to parents.
I know that in the region I work and live there are a lot of wheeler-dealers but I would like to think that the relationship building I have done with schools over the last 6 years in the region sets me apart somewhat. Yes – I do sell product and I do rely on schools buying the product for my livelihood but I do not spam, I don’t badger and I spend the majority of my time in schools were they have already purchased so I do not need to try to sell to them anyway.
I have to admit to trying to “sell ideas” though. As a teacher, I feel that I have always done that. When I first started teaching I worked with Aboriginal kids from the North West of Australia who were sent to a mission in Perth to “get a modern education.” These kids were often lonely and quite sad. Understandably they missed their families. I had to “sell” to them the idea that a good education would give them a better future. In the same way I have been forced to “sell” the idea to kids that learning the first 20 elements of the periodic table off by heart was going to get them a grade on a paper and allow them to have a life of greater choice in learning, whether they ever used the elements for anything beyond a quiz night in their lives or not
I think that we all sell ideas, especially teachers. I think our blogs and our tweets are an example of us selling ourselves and our products – ideas. Sure the exchange of money may not be as transparent, but I would have to say that a good number of the teachers I know who blog and tweet have somewhere at the back of their minds that they might be able to be noticed more and that may have some “payoff” in the future.
All that is to say, be kind to the next “Vendor” who is making a genuine offer. We are all (Mostly) human too