What the Heck is a ‘Teacherpreneur’?

| April 11, 2011 | 12 Comments
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Re-imagining the institution of education will have to be done from different levels. At TEDxSFED on Saturday, we heard from inspirational speakers who spoke to these various perspectives: a principal who literally handed the keys to his school to a student; a design thinker who recreated the school day based on a student’s interests and passions; a teacher who uses the kitchen as the backdrop to educate students about everything from botany to day-to-day experiences outside school; a program that teaches kids to innovate and build with their own hands.

Consider how the profession of teaching can be re-imagined. David Orphal, one of the speakers at the event, took us through the scenario, scene by scene, and explained the theory behind a “teacherpreneur.”

What would educational reform look like if Secretary Arne Duncan took five weeks to teach summer school?

Based on the work of the Center for Teaching Quality and Barnett Berry‘s new book “Teaching 2030,” the concept of “teacherpreneur” involves giving classroom teachers more of a voice in educational leadership, while allowing current educational leaders and policymakers opportunities to spend a part of each year working in a classroom with students.

In this ideal world, teachers spend part of their time in the class as co-teachers, part of their time researching and writing curriculum and assessments for schools, part of the time mentoring new teachers (who have a reduced work load while they’re being trained), part of their time innovating ideas for teacher development, and part of their time drafting educational policy.

In other words, as Orphal said at TEDxSFED: “What would educational reform look like, if Secretary Arne Duncan took five weeks to teach summer school?”

Take a look at Orphal’s “Prezi” presentation, which includes an interview with Ariel Sacks who spoke to MindShift at Big Ideas Fest about the concept of “teacherpreneurship.” [Just click on the Play arrow.]

And check out more video interviews, photos, blogs, and Tweets on the TEDxSFED site. It was a truly inspiring day.

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  • http://twitter.com/edKohl Kristoffer D. Kohl

    Tina,

    Thank you for highlighting teacherpreneurism and Dave’s impressive presentation. I think it is important for teachers, and the public at-large, to understand the distinction between a teacherpreneur and education entrepreneurs. I’ve written some thoughts on this topic at: http://future.teacherleaders.org/.

    Kris

  • Brandi Caldwell

    Great review of Dave’s Prezi. I am very excited at the potential of this movement! Let’s be more than “just a teacher” and show the world that we can move up without moving out of the classroom.

  • http://www.teaching2030.org Braden Welborn

    Thank you for highlighting teacher leader Dave Orphal! Dave is a great advocate for teacherpreneurism and other ideas shared in the Center for Teaching Quality’s recently published book TEACHING 2030: What We Must Do for Our Students and Our Public Schools… Now and in the Future, co-authored by Barnett Berry and twelve accomplished classroom teachers from all over the US. You can learn more about the book (and view a four-minute animated summary of its themes) at http://www.teaching2030.org. (It’s also available for purchase at http://www.amazon.com/Teaching-2030-Students-Public-Schools-Now/dp/0807751545.)

  • Michael D Parks

    I have imagined being both a principal and a teacher, simultaneously. (Currently, I’m a school counseling student [and former teacher] preparing to enter the field, again.)

    I absolutely love the idea of a teacherpreneur! I would be thrilled to see this take off.

    All this leaves me with a question. Will those who are currently part of the 50% who are not in schools or classrooms relinquish their salaried positions? Will they not see teacherpreneurs as competitors, then strike some sort of defensive stance? What will teacherpreneurialism confront in bringing ideas to fruition?

    • http://twitter.com/edKohl Kristoffer D. Kohl

      Michael, 

      Its exciting to hear that you are already thinking along the lines of a teacherpreneur! A teacher with a counseling background would make an excellent hybrid school leader.  Regarding your questions, I do not think it is a matter of positions being relinquished but a rethinking of how school systems are staffed. You express concern about teacherpreneurs potentially being a threat to the current organizational structures, but there is plenty of need (and room) for education professionals of all stripes to reconfigure their interactions with students. The idea of hybrid roles is not new (http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/teaching_ahead/2011/10/making_room_for_teacher_leaders.html) and we already have examples of teacherpreneurs in action (http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/teaching_ahead/2011/10/a_day_in_the_life_of_a_teacherpreneur.html). 

      Its not as much a question of the hurdles that teacherpreneurism will encounter but how we can scale school leadership of this nature. 

      Kris

  • Michael D Parks

    I have imagined being both a principal and a teacher, simultaneously. (Currently, I’m a school counseling student [and former teacher] preparing to enter the field, again.)

    I absolutely love the idea of a teacherpreneur! I would be thrilled to see this take off.

    All this leaves me with a question. Will those who are currently part of the 50% who are not in schools or classrooms relinquish their salaried positions? Will they not see teacherpreneurs as competitors, then strike some sort of defensive stance? What will teacherpreneurialism confront in bringing ideas to fruition?

  • http://twitter.com/BiancaH80 Bianca Hewes

    I love this idea but think the title is really inappropriate – I hate the word ‘entrepreneur’ as I associate it with self-interest and money, wasn’t it coined by an economist after all? I think we need a better label – this one is also goofy-sounding and hard to say, lol.
    I mean, I would love one of those jobs – but wouldn’t want the label … a small criticism of something that is so, so cool.
    :) 

    • http://twitter.com/edKohl Kristoffer D. Kohl

      Bianca, 

      You raise an understandable concern regarding the term. 

      But what if you view the idea through the lens of social entrepreneurship? In a book by the same name, David Bornstein describes social entrepreneurs “helping others to envision a new possibility, appreciate its meaning, and recognize how it can be broken down into doable steps that build momentum for change … They create new configurations of people and coordinate their efforts to attack problems more successfully than before.” Doesn’t that sound like the kind of teacher leadership that we want to encourage?

  • http://convergenceinthecommons.com/ Deborah Owen

    I am definitely going to check out some of these links, and the TEDx talk, thanks! I am absolutely convinced that we have to re-imagine how we are “doing school” because the current model – based on the model of 50-70 years ago – is not adapting fast enough and meeting the needs of our current society.

    I also don’t have a problem with the term “entrepreneur” because we need our students – and workers of the future – to be as creative and self-sufficient as an entrepreneur. In fact, I attended a conference this weekend where I heard Marie Forleo speak. I asked her afterward about students and social media, and in response, she asked me to encourage teaching entrepreneurship to students, especially in light of the difficult of finding jobs.

    Flexibility, adaptability, and creativity are some of the key words that need to drive education.

  • Fahmida Sharmin

    An entrepreneur is a person who invests his/ her money with a focus to gain profit in monetary terms. I would consider myself as a teacherpreneur who has invested around 2 and a half hours of precious time trying to navigate through the digitized world of education. Even though I could not access and watch the video, I have learned from the term “teacherpreneur” and the comments of the luck ones.
    I have taken a risk, spending my time and learning. I am reaping the profit that will be shared with my colleagues and students.

  • Kathleen Skinner

    I like the idea of teacher entrepreneur but there should be a better discription-teacher/policy maker or teacher/education researcher. What better people to have working on policy and research than the people in the classroom.

  • Tricia Moyer-Fowler

    I love the idea of a teacherpreneur. We need to be in the classroom and be the ones to help make policy changes since we are still in the classroom dealing with everyday issues. If the policy maker today were still in the classroom or ever in the classroom they would do their job differently.
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