Sunday, February 27, 2011

7 Guidelines For Marketing Schools

Don Tapscott offers a Consumers 2.0 list at the end of chapter 7 in his book Grown Up Digital.   I started thinking about the school itself being a company and the students and parent community being the consumers.  The checklist at the end of the chapter is fitting if you change the last wording from Consumers 2.0:  Seven Guidelines For Marketing Professionals to Seven Guidelines for Marketing Schools.  As teachers I think we can, and should, apply these guidelines to our classrooms.  But it doesn't stop there.  These guidelines need to infuse all aspects of the school setting from the front office to the lunchroom to the recreation areas.  I'll post them for further discussion.

1.  Don't focus on your customers - engage them.  Turn them into prosumers of your goods and services.  Young people want to coinnovate with you.  Let them customize your value.  Open up your products and services.
Some teachers are already doing this with Web 2.0 tools and this is just the beginning.  If parents and students want to make the services better, let them.
2.  Don't create products and services - create consumer experiences.  Add value to your offerings to make them richer experiences and use the Web to help deliver your new value.
Richer experiences lead to greater investment.
3.  Radically reduce advertising in broadcast media.  Shift your "Marketing Communications Spending" to digital media.
And...encourage students and parents to have a hand in the creation of these communications.
4.  Develop a strategy to plug into N-Fluence networks.  The three keys to Net Gen marketing are word of mouth, word of mouth, get the idea.
It's time schools had a presence on social media.  We're missing a great opportunity to connect with customers.
5.  Rethink your brand.  The brand is no longer just a promise, image, or gadget- for many companies it should become a relationship.
We've been promising educations and many believe schools are falling short.  When schools build relationships with their students and parents, learning and good education are easier to achieve.  Students are willing to go the extra mile for a teacher they trust and have a relationship with.
6.  Bake integrity into your corporate DNA and marketing campaigns.  Honesty, consideration, accountability, and transparency are the foundation of trust for this generation.  Be authentic in everything you do.
Share everything worth sharing via social media, newsletters.  Explanation and keeping students and parents informed on events and decisions helps build trust.
7.  Move the Net Generation into the center of your marketing campaigns.  They are important.  They influence all generations like never before.  The Four Ps - product, place, price, and promotion - are an inadequate framework to deal with the consumer of the future.  Replace them with the ABCDE of marketing:  anyplace, brand, communication, discovery, and experience.
We need to move towards bringing the ABCDE of marketing to our lessons so that students will walk away with incredible learning experiences.

It's time to start talking about how we can make these transitions in public education.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Emphasizing Reading and Non-Fiction Writing in Every Assessment

Part of our weekly PLC sessions in our district are spent discussing what needs to occur in our classrooms as we promote and increase rigor and opportunity.  Today I discuss point # 2.  

Effective teachers emphasize reading and non-fiction writing in every assessment.
I'll be the first one to tell you I'm not a big fan of scripted writing, specifically when students follow scripts to paragraph writing.  At the end of the day a teacher faces reading 20+ paragraphs, each having five sentences which includes a topic sentence, a red, a green, and a blue or what ever the color coding for these approaches may be.  The topics may be different but the structure is the same. I don't think they promote good writing though some might argue they promote standard writing. And though there is a great deal of pressure in schools for students to perform well on state assessments we can still promote a love for or an interest in writing by providing opportunity for writing in everything they do, including assessment.
But I'm off task.... already.

Many of my thoughts on writing come from Laura Robb's book Non-fiction Writing from the Inside Out

What is important to me about writing is this:
  • Redefining non-fiction writing in a way that encourages creativity and relevance to both the reader and the writer.
  • Encouraging understanding so that students understand that the "league of writers" is not exclusive but open to everyone
  • Providing student examples as models of writing-in-process to encourage risk taking and exploration of unconventional approaches to writing. 

But, aside from my beliefs, the first question for me is:  What makes including reading and non-fiction writing in every assessment effective teaching?  

If I assume the answer - it does - to the above question is correct, that there is research to back the statement up, and I'm left to document how I do include reading and non-fiction writing in every assessment - well that's an easy task.  And though I do this because it jives with my beliefs and because it makes good pedagogical sense (incorporates critical thinking, etc...,) it leaves my curiosity to wonder how doing so makes me more or less effective?  

So I tried doing some research and have come up empty handed.  

If I am given the charge of incorporating reading and non-fiction writing into my teaching than I want to be sure what I am doing is being done well.

If you have resources to the question above, please forward them my way.

I Love Teaching

Nathan Russell
I love being a part of another's learning and for that I am truly grateful I am an educator.  There is something very special about being an instrumental part of someone reaching their potential, discovering something new, or seeing something in a different light for the first time.  Lucky for me I get to do this on a daily basis and though sometimes obstacles arise when I least expect them, they provide a challenge that sweetens the reward for the learner, and ultimately me, the teacher.

All this sentimental hogwash arises from my just spending an hour reading over the most recent blog posts of my students.  I had asked them to reflect on their learning related to a specific essential learning and to comment on what they had learned and what they were most proud of in their work.  I was astounded at their comments but mostly, they were astounded at their posts.  Some of those students were literally stunned when they hit the publish button and visited their site to view their work.  Stunned because never before had they written so much in such little time and had it published for others to view. Stunned because after taking the time to summarize a project they realized how much they had learned.  Stunned because they all saw ways to improve and when they had a free moment were returning to their work to add in those improvements.  Stunned because they were beginning to realize that perhaps learning and sharing that process wasn't so bad after all.  How could I not love being a part of that process?

Kids, teenagers, adults... I feel so fortunate to have the time to spend with them, to encourage them to craft their methods, to introduce new tools, to model learning in the 21st century, to share and be a part of the lifelong learning in each and everyone of their lives.  Lucky me.