I work in Education, but without the benefit of being able to say, ‘I am a teacher’. Quite the opposite in fact: I am a vendor. Or more precisely, I work for one.
What effect does this have on my voice in Education? Good question. There’s no right/wrong answer here, but I’ve noticed a few things along the way, mostly that we are treated like tourists.
I think there is a stigma about vendors. Many believe we are in this for the money; that we work for a heartless corporation which only cares about profit and not the development of future generations. Some go as far as to say education is a public right and private companies have no business interfering whatsoever. Others really get behind private companies because they are committing big resources to developing educational technologies that make teaching/learning better (or easier, or more fun, or more accessible, etc…). Still others look at all that and say, ‘Yes but these companies are just adding cost to education, effectively pricing out the students from poor families’.
Everyone has an opinion. Reminds me a little of being in the army; the book says one thing, every NCO you ever meet says something else. If I were to take a stab in the dark here, I would say it probably comes down to whatever experience you’ve had with education vendors in the past. No doubt there are more than a few horror stories out there. Notwithstanding those, there are a few things I would like to clear up:
1) Despite working for a corporation, I am still a person and would like to be treated as such.
I will take the time to get to know you as much as possible before I even reach out to you. Please give me the benefit of the doubt and at least say thank you for thinking about me.
2) Despite working for a corporation, I am not in this for the money.
I make a good $10k Less than the national average wage, thank you very much. I do this job because I like what our company does, what it represents, and I would like to be a teacher one day (next year hopefully).
3) Despite working for a corporation, I do not want to sell you something.
Our product/service is free, for everyone, always has been and always will be.
4) Despite working for a corporation, we didn’t drop out of the sky looking to change the way you teach.
We actually have quite a venerable history in the field of education, having entered the fray 103 years ago. And while I cannot claim such vast and considered experience, it’s comforting to know the old and bold around here can.
Hopefully that didn’t sound like too much of a rant, it wasn’t intended to be and it certainly is not aimed at every teacher. I’ve encountered some incredibly welcoming people along the way, the ones that remind me it’s worth it, that we can work together, and that we should work together. Comments and conversations are welcome as always. And yes, I will revisit this post in a year when I’ve completed teachers college, and perhaps every year thereafter.