7 Universal Truths About Teachers

April 3rd marks my one year anniversary at Lalilo.

As Lalilo team members, we strive to empower teachers in their classroom. We don’t believe technology’s impact should be fewer teachers, but rather we believe technology should bring better outcomes.

We see that low literacy rates still exist, and we largely believe that Lalilo will help tackle this societal issue by working with and empowering teachers.

It is due to this belief that I have spent the last year meeting with dozens of teachers in person, speaking with hundreds over the phone, and emailing most likely thousands. We believe that Lalilo will only have an impact if it’s built by teachers and with teachers (we now have three former teachers on the team!).

Here are 7 key lessons I learned from teachers over the past year:

1. Teachers are hard-working & overworked.

I met last year with Melissa, a former classroom teacher, who is now building her startup in financial services. Melissa said something I will always remember: “No Silicon Valley entrepreneur will ever work as hard as a good teacher.” I am constantly impressed by the amount of work teachers put in. Most teachers work before class, after class, and weekends. Not only do they want their lessons to be relevant, but they want them to be interesting for their students. They continually reinvent themselves, and it requires a lot of work.

2. Teachers are profoundly human. Teachers care.

If you ask a teacher “Why do you do this job?,” you will almost always hear: “Because it is so great to see the journey students go through in a year. How they grow, as learners and as individuals,” or “I just love the connection with the kids.” Teachers genuinely care about the human beings with whom they share their days. They care about students’ stories. They care about students’ families. They simply care.

3. Teachers are passionate.

My deepest belief is that all teachers are passionate. Their job is so hard, requires such long hours, and is definitely not rewarded the way it should be, that it can only be done by people who are genuinely invested in their mission. An obvious example of this is to take a look at how much of their personal money teachers spend on daily basis for their students.

4. Teachers need support.

Teachers deal with such a large number of subjects on a daily basis: curriculum, parents, administration, PD, staff meetings, classroom management, tests, etc. that they cannot deal with all of this alone. They need support. They need to communicate with other teachers. They need advice. No simple human being can pull all of that off alone.

5. Teachers share.

As a consequence of “Teachers needing support,” teachers belong to communities. And every good piece of advice, resource, and app gets shared virally among those communities. In the same way, any bad resource, behavior, or curriculum gets depreciated.

6. Teachers are lifelong learners.

I never cease to be impressed by how teachers relentlessly attend conferences, webinars, and are eager to try new resources which can enhance their instructional pedagogy. They do all of that on their own time (bye weekends!) and on their own money. They read blogs, tweet, learn how to code, and want to become certified innovators from big companies. They just never stop. And I admire that.

7. Teachers need to be empowered.

Last but not least, teachers fundamentally need to be empowered. By their community, by their administration, by people who care. They have such an important mission to accomplish for society, for our future generations, that we need to help them. We believe Lalilo can participate in that. 🙂

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