Schools should be run more like a business…sort of

In a lot of ways schools should be run like a business.

Before you cringe and throw your computer across the room hear me out. The mantra that schools should be run like a business is often misguided. Politicians like to tout that schools should be run like a business, because teachers should be able to get their students to work like any corporation. Students should be able to meet deadlines, use teamwork, and function like colleagues. If teachers treat students like employees, then a good teacher can get them to succeed. I disagree with this premise on almost every account. I think people have their analogy mixed up. I am not a manager organizing a team to tackle a goal. I am a salesman. My job is to sell my subject matter to students and convince them it’s worthwhile. The students aren’t the employees; they are the customers.

My job is to sell my subject matter to students and convince them it’s worthwhile. The students aren’t the employees; they are the customers.

I recently listened to an interview with Donald Miller from on his podcast. He has this philosophy that sales and marketing are all about story. To sell a product or service a company needs to take the customer on a journey and show them that supporting the company will meet a philosophical need in their life. Isn’t that my job in education as well?

My goal as an educator is to teach students the value of hard work, to teach them that if they put their mind to something they can achieve it. I have to show them that there is value in being an effective reader and that there is power in being an effective writer. I have to sell my subject every day and teach them that on the deepest philosophical level, what they learn in my class will move them one step closer to being a well rounded, enlightened, adult.

This idea that building the story of my class will help me sell my subject to my students was eye opening. According to Miller there are seven parts to any story:

  1. Development of the character- The student comes in on day one, and I have to find out what makes him/her tick as quickly as possible.
  2. Introduce the problem- I have to teach students what problems my class can help solve.
  3. Enter help- That’s me. I’m their Yoda (hopefully).
  4. The guide gives them a plan- My job is to show them a plan to develop and overcome the problems they will face.
  5. Act on the plan- I walk them on their journey to tackle their problems and grow as a reader and writer.
  6. What happens if it does or doesn’t work- I have to teach them the steps to take if they fail. I have to teach them how to get back up and try again.
  7. If it does work, what’s next- I have to teach them how to find the next challenge.

If I can teach using the power of story and sell my students on the value of my class, then they might just learn something.

Thank You!

It’s impossible for me to do what I do in the classroom each day without the support and generosity of my community. Often these are people who have never met my students but know what a quality education and ample opportunities can do to the trajectory of a student’s life.
Last year was one of the most successful school years I have ever been a part of. Thanks to the donations of people like: The Nascar Foundation, The Olathe Public Schools Foundation, Randy and Roxanne Bragaw, Gene and Darlene Bergquist, Sandy Wheeler, Amber Rowland, and many others, I saw students lives changed. Here are some of the projects that have changed students’ lives this year:

  1. We developed a Maker Space. Kids spent hours every day tinkering with MakeyMakey boards, circuits, and Little Bits kits. During homeroom they created everything from a Mr. Stock operation game (where they took turns attempting to “save me”, but I think I died more than was necessary) to pianos and drums made out of anything you can think of (including bananas and buckets of water).
  1. Using the supplies from the Maker Space the kids also took the hardware and learned how to code using Scratch. Instead of creating PowerPoints, kids were writing their own computer programs to present facts about World War II.
  1. The MakeyMakey boards were such a huge hit that my wife took them to her elementary school next door and had her students learning about circuits.
  1. Thanks to boxes and boxes of book donations we gave away 700+ books at parent teacher conferences in February. The look on the kids’ faces when they walked out of the building with their arms overflowing with books was priceless.
  1. At the end of the year we were able to give away 40 books to kids who might not be able to afford their own brand new book. Some of these kids have never had the joy of being the first person to crack open a book. Plus, we had enough books leftover to jump start our book giveaway this year!

Thank you for your continual support!