Building a Business in the Classroom Part 4: Traction

Posted by on Wednesday, January 25, 2017 in classflow, grit9, Teaching | 0 comments

Internal dialogue: “Say something smart, don’t look at the camera.”

For weeks my students and I gathered, asking “Where are the customers? Why aren’t they responding to our advertising?” Some students got frustrated that customers weren’t breaking down the door to give us money. Turns out, this struggle was just what we needed.

The Push

The more frustrated we got, the more determined we were to succeed. It made us work harder, pitching to relatives, making phone calls and sending emails to anyone who would listen. On the last day before Christmas break, we got a TV news story on our local station and a free radio spot in January. Before we returned from break,

They did great on camera!

we had 12 new clients, 3 of which are potential web design leads which we make the most money on. The others were VHS-to-DVD conversion or photo scanning clients.

The proverbial ball is rolling.

The Stench of Stagnancy

I initially thought that if students’ parents buy our services for my students to feel good, students will learn, “Rely on others for bailouts”. This simply isn’t true. Sidenote: In August 1982, my siblings tried to sell scavenged pumpkins on our empty country road. Hours later, Grandma Suter just “happened” to pass by and buy them all. My siblings are still very successful today, one still selling pumpkins ironically.)

 

Suter kids are entrepreneurs circa 1982

 

 

Suter’s still selling pumpkins today.

The Tipping Point?

Nope. We are far from that momentum. This is traction. These paying clients are the burst of dopamine our team (myself included) needed, as dopamine gives us that addictive jolt of satisfaction when we do something good. There may even be a dose of serotonin in this experience as this happens when we feel accepted and trusted; and a high-trust classroom is a prerequisite for an entrepreneurial classroom. I think it’s no coincidence that Dopamine, Oxytocin, Serotonin, and Endorphins acronym to DOSE. Regular doses of these chemicals are keeping us going.

Housekeeping

I’ve got a new semester of students, about 85 new faces yesterday. Thanks to an anonymous Google form filled by students to evaluate me, I know I need to do a better job of providing concrete structure in class. I get into cricket mode jumping from place to place and topic to topic and I could see how it would make one dizzy. Some students thrive on it, but I need to support more left-brained students better. Check.

Also, this new group means new sets of talents and skills yet to be discovered. I integrate Grit9 into all my classes every chance I can, so it’s important to show successful ties. I teach a college-credit course on Microsoft Office products (bleh.) that is GREATLY enhanced when we can find real problems from community members and businesses related to Excel. We don’t have to charge money for it to stick with the students. I’ve finally abandoned the 2-inch thick Office textbooks in favor of all real world and student-generated content that’s relevant to them. I still need to evaluate them, which I had been using pre-made ExamView tests, but I HATE memorization-style exams, so now I’m using the conveniently open-ended “performance” style assessments I make in Classflow, like “Evaluate this clients needs. Which spreadsheet is setup to meet them?” Why?

Evaluation Nation

Thanks for reading this. It helps me when I reflect on my job, so maybe it’s for me really.

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