My Startup Weekend Pitch: OneTeacher.me

I’m in DC for the education edition of Startup Weekend! It’s my first Startup Weekend, but here are my notes on how it works:

– entrepreneurs, and those aspiring to be entrepreneurs, can do 60-minute pitches for new start-ups at a Friday evening event at the beginning of the 54 hour weekend

– pitches are selected based on votes and teams then form

– teams build products the rest of the weekend with access to awesome mentors

– the teams present to a judging panel and finalists and a winner are named

The reason why I registered in the first place? It’s a fantastic opportunity to hone an entire skillset and network with education greats. However, as the event got closer, I became more entrenched with an idea I’ve had for years and am pitching it tonight: OneTeacher.me, a social network focused on helping teachers “get good” at what schools want, and then helping them tell the world about it. The first part happens when you earn badges by developing and demonstrating the teacher skills research shows our students need (think Foursquare). The second part is about using the badges to create a profile that’s searchable by hiring managers and peers, and join communities (think LinkedIn). Badges might be earned if you’re certified in a high-need subject area, are certified in multiple states, or participated in certain professional development programs. They may also be earned if you attach a lesson plan to your profile, or can demonstrate that you meet soft skills that research shows matter, like leadership, resilience and time management, through assessments or evidence. Content may be provided to help teachers get higher-order badges.

Readers of my blog know that my background is in teacher recruitment, hiring and quality– I was TFA, I helped implement the NYC Teaching Fellows from the first summer, served as the Director of Teacher Recruitment for the world’s largest school district of 1,600 schools, and researched and wrote about teacher hiring from an economic perspective in my academic career. I still blog about all this on Tumblr. But when I made the decision to go out on my own as a coach and consultant, I tried to run away as far as I could from teachers- only because I felt that was what I needed to make a clean break and put MY stake in the ground. But over the last 13 months, teachers keep calling me back- the webinar I did with SchoolSpring in May that sold out in 20 minutes, and then of course, the Teach Newark project we’ve managed since June.

Like many inspirations, it comes to one moment and mine happened this summer at an event when I found myself unexpectedly rushed by 200ish teachers trying to find a job. I unconsciously started giving out advice, pep talks, and pats on the back and I felt at peace in away I haven’t always felt as a coach. I felt at peace because even though I give them tough love, I truly love teachers and I’m good with them… and what could I happen if I could scale that? And that’s where Startup Weekend comes in.

If you were a teacher, are currently a teacher, or are an aspiring teacher, I’d love if you filled out our survey about your thoughts on our idea. Thanks very much!