What does it really mean to be an edtech “partner?” In the K-12 education industry, the word partner might be confused with “I have something I would like you to buy.” There are a few definitions of the term, according to Merriam-Webster, but the description that best aligns with the question above is “one associated with another, especially in an action.”
I have been involved in the EdTech industry for 12 years, and, for the most part, I have not experienced a high aversion by educators to listening to a pitch by an EdTech representative. The challenge is that their definition of partnership may be different than that of the EdTech representative.
A recent blog posted on EdSurge, written by Ms. Sara Shenkan-Rich, the Principal of Woodrow Wilson Elementary School in Daly City, California, really struck a chord with me. To paraphrase Ms. Shenkan-Rich, she asked: “what do you know about me, my school, my staff, my students, and how we measure success, and how does your solution specifically help us achieve our objectives?” You’ll notice that the EdTech company or products are not mentioned at all. In fact, Principals like Ms. Shenkan-Rich are going to get it done one way or another, with or without the EdTech partnership. EdTech partners need to earn their way into consideration, which got me thinking about what exactly it takes for an EdTech company to foster a successful relationship with educators.
Here are four tips for EdTech companies to consider when attempting to secure a successful partnership with educators:
Show How You Meet Their Needs
As an EdTech company, you’re not the first company to approach a district to try and partner with them. Speak in terms that are relevant to them and their situation. If you enter into a conversation trying to push your own agenda and needs, you’ll miss an opportunity to showcase how your solution can truly help these educators and their students.
This is perhaps the healthiest part of dialog between an educator and potential EdTech vendor, because it allows you to focus in on the specifics that really matter to the educator and their students.
Ask for Teacher Buy-in
Back to Ms. Shenkan-Rich’s blog, one critical point that she makes that can NEVER be overlooked is the impact classroom teachers make on our “partnership” – especially longer term. Since we are ultimately focused on helping students, there is no individual more important than the teachers. Teachers will also need to be brought into the decision-making process, so they are invested in the adoption and implementation of the solution.
If you want an educator to see how your solution will fit into their instructional model or teaching style, provide examples of how their peers have achieved success to obtain adoption and usage of your products within the classroom, and how it has impacted students. It will eventually become all about the student data.
The key to this partnership will be an ongoing, open, and transparent dialog about how a district or school administer will measure success. That said, EdTech companies need the administration to stay involved and demonstrate their ongoing commitment to the initiative. Any new initiative takes time. With that commitment, together we can focus on teacher and student outcomes!