The number-one reason teachers leave or move from the classroom is a feeling of isolation. Correspondingly, the number-one reason teachers stay is because they find a thought partner or mentor in the field to help them grow. [^1]
We solve this problem by effortlessly connecting teachers to thought partners and mentors. KickUp has been described as a “seamless teacher-matching system meets an easy Twitter feed for education.”
We understand teachers because teaching is part of our team’s DNA. Jeremy and Vicky have taught in public, charter, and magnet schools in rural and urban regions. Jeremy taught in one of the lowest-performing states for educational outcomes and in the highest-performing public school in DC. Will, a tech lead at Capital One, has created and taught a hacker boot-camp and comes from a family of educators.
Jeremy and Vicky experienced this problem of isolation first-hand throughout their teaching careers. We identified the need for KickUp when, through mutual friends, Jeremy found a 12th-year math teacher in New York who transformed the way Jeremy thought about teaching by injecting joy and a love of learning into the classroom.
Recognizing the impact that this new mentor made on him, Jeremy then interviewed dozens of teachers, administrators, and technologists, and what he found was surprising: no one was solving the problem of teacher isolation by connecting teachers to each other!
Jeremy, Vicky, and Will teamed up to resolve this need by efficiently and effectively connecting teachers. By borrowing from the engineering and business worlds, we have designed KickUp from the ground up as a way for teachers to quickly and seamlessly solve problems through shared best-practices and, in the process, cultivate positive professional relationships.
Vivian, a third-year teacher in a San Francisco charter school, struggled to differentiate for her Geometry class. Her high-performing students were bored, her low-performing students were struggling, and Vivian was frustrated because no one in her school had the domain expertise to help her. Vivian spent the whole year trying new techniques, but nothing worked.
Overwhelmed and burnt out, Vivian quit at the end of the year.
What Vivian didn’t know was that Mallory, a 7th-year teacher in DC, was a master at differentiation. She loves to help struggling teachers and had been looking for an outlet to share her insight. Vivian could have been that outlet for Mallory, in the process solving Vivian’s problem and turning a struggling teacher into a growing teacher.
KickUp creates that connection to resolve these unrealized opportunities.
Not only does KickUp facilitate connections between teachers, but it also connects them to subject-matter experts who can provide guidance when contending with non-instructional challenges. The need for this is critical because as students are becoming more aware of the need to seek help for interpersonal issues at school like bullying and dating violence, they are more frequently turning to their teachers for advice.
When Jeremy was a teacher in Arkansas, students came to him to with severe depression and emotional anxiety. The school’s on-site counselor was unequipped to field the challenges these students faced, and so Jeremy was left in the position of providing support as best he could.
This issue is not unique to Jeremy’s classroom.
Often, teachers have students who are malnourished, have emotional issues, or lack a domestic support structure and unfortunately, many school districts have not yet implemented programs and procedures to help teachers know how to respond to these situations. A recent survey revealed that although 22.6% of teachers in Florida high schools had a student approach them about an issue with dating violence, only 15% of teachers could identify an appropriate prevention program.[^2]
Now, rather than responding in an ad-hoc manner, teachers will use KickUp to automatically be connected with a partner organization like Jennifer Ann’s Group[^3] to receive consistent, timely, and evidence-based solutions.
The KickUp process goes like this:
- Teachers post challenges to a secure network via an easy three-question-process on their mobile device.
- Expert-appointed members are instantly identified and then notified in real-time so the system can schedule a time to communicate and resolve the challenge via text or video
- Administrators use data from challenges and interactions with experts to gain a pulse of their school’s culture and needs
[^1]: The Condition of Education 2011, U.S. Dept of Education, http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2011033
[^2]: THE RESPONSE OF ADMINISTRATORS AND INSTRUCTORS IN THE ORANGE COUNTY, FLORIDA PUBLIC HIGH SCHOOL SYSTEM TO DATING VIOLENCE PREVENTION PROGRAMS: RECOMMENDATIONS FOR PROGRAM DEVELOPMENT AND IMPLEMENTATION. http://purl.fcla.edu/fcla/etd/CFE0003107
[^3]: Jennifer Ann’s Group is our charity partner in the Apps for Class challenge and has been working to prevent teen dating violence since 2006,