The New Bright Shiny Toy

There are some amazing, engaging, and totally awesome new resources for the best interest of kids, great for teachers and just all around innovative in the K12 market! These resources get awards at various conferences for being cutting edge and their companies are on the move! Educators hang out at exhibit hall booths watching them in action or the product or service may get a shout out from a school district superintendent for being fabulous.  For the sake of this blog, let’s call all of these product and service resources “new bright shiny toys.”   Investors are backing a lot of new bright shiny toys and many entrepreneurs and vendor representatives with and without a background in K-12 education, are eager to see their new bright shiny toy in the hands of educators and students.  Educators love new bright shiny toys.  They love seeing demos and will let vendors know what’s hot and what’s not.  Teachers may say “I wish I had this for my class” or “I bet my kids would really love this.”  After gaining a coveted district meeting with an educator and the educator voices their joy over the new bright shiny toy, vendors leave the meeting with a smile on their face, delighted that they were successful in winning over a new customer.  They have pleased the end user and are proud that a new sale for their bright shiny new toy is on the horizon.

The vendor returns to their office, compiles their notes and types out an email proposal in less than a New York minute.  They wait and they wait and they wait.  What happened?  The educator loved the new bright shiny toy.  Why haven’t they responded to the vendor’s email?  The emails are followed by a couple of phone calls.  The administrative assistant promises to deliver the messages but nothing but crickets can be heard.  The new bright shiny toy was “hot,” the educator said.  Yet the vendor waits by the silent cell phone feeling deflated.

Today’s K12 education market is one where there are many, many new bright shiny toys.  Each one having value, credibility and probable importance for students and educators alike but how this one new bright shiny toy fits into a specific classroom, school or district depends upon numerous situational elements such as priorities, lack of ongoing vendor relationship, budget, time management, testing, wrong time of the year, curriculum space, redundant products, overlapping contracts, professional development, overwhelming district circumstances, lack of access, lack of technology, poor infrastructure, lack of school leadership, lack of administration leadership, teacher push-back, lack of trust, not enough longitudinal research,  sustainability, RFP needed, and school board politics, just  to name a few.

The K12 US market space can be a daunting place, difficult to maneuver and complicated to understand.  Educators may love your new bright shiny toy, yet status quo is a safe space and they may love that even more.  There is hope in ensuring your new bright shiny toy makes it through the maze and rises to the top of the new bright shiny toy heap.  It starts with the understanding that all of these elements are an educator’s reality. Did the vendor not notice as the educator revealed many of these elements in their original conversation? Did they acknowledge them, give them validity and compassion? Did the vendor recognize the roadblocks and address them at the meeting? Will the new bright shiny toy or the customer service provided, alleviate any of the educator’s burdens? Is there a value-add that sets the vendor’s company apart and makes their new bright shiny toy appear shinier? Might this not be a “no” but a “yes” in-the-near future?

As a vendor partner, one must know the right questions to ask, acknowledge and address an educator’s plight, understand the obstacles and challenges that educators and administrators may face on a daily basis. Realize that the conversations can be complicated with layers of decision making along the way. 

If the new bright shiny toy is truly awesome, the vendor must have a clear understanding of the elements and be awesome too! Then, and only then, might that new bright shiny toy make it into the classroom, over and above all the other new bright shiny toys waiting on hold by a school district.



Images by Unsplash:; jan dooley; mink mingle