What happens when you’re profoundly alone standing in a room full of people?
By Marcel Ollmann
TeachersConnect is working with teachers on a user research project focusing on discovering what drives teachers in their daily lives and what challenges they experience in their professional careers. We have been performing this research primarily to inform our product development process—to ensure that we provide value and utility to teachers on a consistent basis.
One of the common threads exposed in our research is that teachers often feel profoundly isolated—even though they spend their days surrounded by students and in the middle of schools . There were many reasons for this sense of isolation manifesting.
Some teachers experienced a general lack of interest from their immediate colleagues, while other teachers’ contributions weren’t valued highly by the people around them. There were also examples where teachers were literally isolated—they were the only person in the school or state with their specific challenges and experiences. Some teachers felt uncomfortable sharing their questions and concerns because they were afraid of revealing their self-perceived inadequacies to their colleagues.
The feeling of teachers being isolated is not new to the teaching profession—there has been research as far back as the 1970s that has observed and reported on the phenomenon. Isolation can be a powerful negative force in the life of a teacher—especially when isolation has been linked as a contributing factor to teacher stress levels and attrition rates.
On the flip side of isolation, the value of collaboration is perceived by an overwhelming majority of teachers in the United States. Scholastic and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation found that 90 percent of teachers believe that providing time to collaborate with colleagues is crucial to retaining good teachers .
Unfortunately when they reviewed the most significant challenges faced by teachers, over half of the teachers surveyed said they did not have enough time to collaborate with colleagues. Additional research conducted by MetLife showed that teachers who collaborated less with their colleagues were also less satisfied in their jobs.
TeachersConnect aims to break the cycle of isolation for new and experienced teachers. Our aim is to make it easier for teachers to connect with their kindred spirits—the people who “get them” and who they most want to collaborate with.
By using the most prevalent mobile technologies, TeachersConnect flattens the classroom walls and provides teachers with on-demand and asynchronous tools to build relationships with people who value each others’ expertise and experience—even when they have limited time on their hands.
Do you feel isolated in your classroom? Are you looking for your tribe of kindred spirits? Do you need to collaborate with people who will laugh, cry, cheer and push you when you need it? Click here to stay informed of our progress and get early access to the TeachersConnect.
Marcel Ollmann has been involved in teaching and learning for most of his life. A fully trained and road-tested teacher, he also has over 20 years experience in website design and coding, as well as sales and marketing. In the last 14 years he has been intimately involved in the startup space. He has an obsession for the place where ideas and technology intersect to solve real world problems.