Learning from Our First Million Users

 

Last week we exceeded one million teachers and students on Edcite and it is such an important milestone for our team! Getting here has been a great experience, and we’ve learned a lot from our users. While the product has evolved tremendously over the feedback from a million people, I have been more struck by how my understanding of teaching has transformed during this time. My appreciation and respect for our teacher community has only grown, and in honor of Teacher Appreciation Week, I would like to mark this occasion with a reflection on all that teachers do.

Teachers are everything people.

As an engineer, I have always considered myself a math person, but a teacher has to be an everything person. There is no room for stereotypes among educators because they have to be ready for literally anything at any moment. As a student and then a parent, I thought I had a good understanding of what a teacher did throughout the day, but after working alongside so many educators as a digital complement, I have seen the number of hats teachers wear. Teachers are computer scientists; I have seen teachers identify a tech issue when they arrive at school and have it resolved before students arrive. Teachers are designers; we’ve gotten so much great feedback about how to present the page, and we implement it. Teachers are product developers; have you seen the word game and array question type on our page? Yep, teachers helped design them.

At Edcite, we will make sure we welcome the feedback from every hat teachers wear and build a platform flexible to meet the everything needs!

Teachers carry an increasing load, and while they are in fact doing it, they shouldn’t have to.

In the section above I described the many hats that teachers wear, but an accompanying realization I have had during our growth at Edcite is the increasing burden being placed on teachers. Are teachers capable of spinning a thousand plates at once? Probably. Should they have to? No. We’ve heard loud and clear from teachers that there is more expected and, often, with less support. This section may seem like I’m just stating the obvious here, but this is more than an observation–this is a commitment. Teachers are doing more and more with less and less, and we at Edcite will do our part to fight that trend. Feedback is so valuable for students, but it needn’t come at the expense of teachers’ livelihood. Time is a factor, and making sure teachers get time to build a sustainable balance is something that isn’t getting enough priority from many stakeholders. The lessons I have learned about educators aren’t all positive, but they are important. It’s not enjoyable to think about the increasingly unreasonable demands being placed on teachers, but it has to happen and we all can play a part in addressing it.

At Edcite, we will make sure that sustainable teaching and student feedback are not mutually exclusive. 

Teachers give meaning to an increasingly data-driven world.

We all hear how much assessment data drives school and district goals, but it is the teachers who bring meaning to the numbers. While I’ve come to understand how controversial state assessments are, feedback from our Edcite teachers has shown me that there is little disagreement on the value of formative assessments. Teachers want tools that will give them the autonomy to create formative assessments precisely aligned to their students’ needs. They also want tools that will help them quickly assess data about what their students have learned. Plus, when given these tools, teachers are more than willing to share and collaborate within a community. The outcome from this is that teachers help students succeed.

At Edcite, we will continue to provide ways for teachers to quickly assess student learning and to share their expertise within the Edcite community.

Teachers are irreplaceable.

Although Edcite is an educational technology company, our platform thrives because of great teaching in the classroom. With the early hype around online education, some saw a future where we would no longer need as many teachers. Computers would provide the bulk of instruction to students, and teachers would become secondary figures. This cannot work, though. From what I’ve learned while working with teachers, direct human connection from the teacher to the student has the biggest impact on student learning. Even with all the resources in the world, without that teacher, most students will not be motivated or understand the reason for learning, especially in the formative years of development. Thus, unlike some other professions, teachers will always be needed and are in no danger of being replaced by computers.

At Edcite, we will continue to find ways to appreciate our teachers and improve our platform based on their feedback.

On behalf of Edcite, I want to thank all of the teachers who have been part of our first million users. You all have taught me, and the rest of the Edcite Team, so much.

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