Training the Teachers is Part of the Work
As an ed-tech startup CEO chasing business, I find that my efforts to get new contracts look something like this:
- It starts with the lead;
- Then there is the pitch to decision makers;
- That's followed by a follow-up contact;
- I send the proposal and a price quote; and
- It's all capped off by closing the deal.
It takes a while to get to this point, but the hard work doesn't end once the contract is signed. It's rewarding to see a lot of people excited to start implementing Autism Expressed's product. That's where I am right now with a new contract I have with the Bancroft School, where soon we are rolling out a training program for 60 new users.
How the training looks:
Participants will get a quick telling of the Autism Expressed story to introduce the how and why of our product. That includes a bit about my background as a teacher in the Philadelphia school system for students with autism and my work in the classroom teaching digital literacy skills to my own students.
Then we will review the core components to the learning system to give them an overview of "how it works." We'll highlight the discrete method of training students through the videos, the simulated environments from practicing skills to the virtual rewards, progress monitoring, supplemental resources, and on-demand professional development.
As a teacher, I've been through enough trainings to know what is useful and what is not. I want participants to be working in real time, so I ask that teachers bring their laptops or personal devices along with their student roster. That way, when they go to use the program, they won't be working from theory—they'll already have logged in and worked in the system from the device they're likely to use on the job.
We designed Autism Expressed with our nuanced learners in mind, providing a lot of structure with a simple interface so it is easy to navigate for students with autism. We followed suit when designing the facilitator interface, so it's easy to get around within the system for instructors too.
However, it's still important that teachers experience the product semi-independently, so they can identify questions as they are using the product and while I am there to help.
The overall process of training reflects my own teaching skills and the methods I sometimes use with my students: introduce new content, model the skill, facilitate guided practice, and then independent practice.
The goal is that after I leave and the training is over, they can hit the ground running.