Choose a Partner, Not a Vendor
Posted by Sam Cook on April 17, 2018 at 10:17 AM
This post is part of TeachBoost's series, From Vision to Reality: Pulling the Right Levers for Transformational Instructional Leadership. Check out all the posts in our series, then subscribe to our blog to have posts delivered to your inbox as we publish new pieces.
In chapter 4, we will walk through the steps of finding a partner—not just a vendor—prioritizing growth to move beyond compliance, and planning for slow change. Enjoy!
So far we've talked about the importance of "setting the stage" for transformational instructional leadership by establishing a common vision, building a culture around the vision, and creating a theory of action to support it. Once the groundwork was laid, we moved into ways of calibrating feedback through the use of technology and the importance of looking for growth within our educators through frequent classroom visits.
Technology makes it easy for instructional leaders to facilitate collaboration, norm feedback, and leverage collected data to improve teachers and leaders. Without technology, districts and schools are hindered by human error (sifting through data manually, inconsistent feedback, and so on). But where do you go to find the right edtech partnership for your organization?
Beginning EdTech Partnerships
"A partner doesn't just solve your immediate need; a partner works with you to achieve your long-term vision."
When you embark upon selecting an edtech partnership, you'll have already prioritized the specifics that really matter to your district's culture. Some of the most reliable ways to find the best fit for you is to ask your peers, or find other examples of successful implementations that align with your own requirements and expectations.
We have been vocal about what district leaders need from edtech companies. Leaders in education know exactly what they need to do and how they need to do it, yet are often lacking those most valuable resources—time, people and technology—to realize their vision. To this end, "edtech companies should enable and empower educators to scale the practices they’ve spent their careers learning and testing": we provide the technological architecture, you bring your educational expertise.
Your relationship with the edtech company should be more than just client and vendor—you need a partner on this journey. To ensure a long-lasting relationship committed to moving the needle on student outcomes, our district partners confirm their number one priority is an open, honest dialogue with a responsive edtech team.
"Whenever we need a functionality, I'll hop on phone and say, "here's what I'm thinking", says Linda Rosenbury. "Half the time the team says, 'here's how you do it,' the other half they say, 'we haven't thought of that before, let's see what we can do.'" Delivering instructional leaders the tools and resources for their program and assisting with their utilization should be essential for any edtech provider.
Personalized and Hands-On Support
Personalized account management and dedicated customer support is critical to the success of any flourishing partnership. After the initial setup of their program at Achievement School District, Nataki Gregory appreciated the check-ins and year-round support. Why? Because this ensured that the implementation was running smoothly and providing meaningful, actionable data to grow teachers and admins alike. The freedom to ask questions and advice and receive honest answers is key here and a hands-on approach from your edtech team will truly help you achieve your vision.
Beyond Initial Offerings
Our district partnerships also welcome the provision of an active blog filled with comprehensive support for school leaders in their daily work. Monthly must-reads on current issues, guest posts on educational best practice, and instructional webinar series are regularly curated by the TeachBoost team for their partners, but also those genuinely interested in instructional improvement and personal growth.
Above all, you don't just want the technology—you need a partner who listens, learns, and moves forward with you. Don't believe us? Listen to your peer Sabrina La Londe when she says:
"It's a journey—you're always going to be getting better, improving, learning more. TeachBoost is willing to keep growing and changing with us—that's not typical with many other technology companies."