"The founding principle is that the teacher's attention is the most valuable piece in the educational brew or ecosystem. If you really want to have a high quality educational experience, you'd increase the amount of teacher attention that each child is receiving." - Brian Tobal
Our guest today is Brian Tobal. Brian used to be a teacher at the Harlem Children's Zone, then worked as a researcher, and then he spent the last few years building lots of educational software, and curriculum for schools, universities and businesses. Now, Brian has started SchoolHouse with his co-founder, to have parents get together and create microschools or learning pods in their own homes or in flexible spaces.
In this episode, Brian and I discuss what it takes for an educational program to find product-market fit. This means that the students are happy and engaged, they are successful in their learning goals, and the experience is amazing for everyone involved, so that they all keep coming back for more.
Listen and take note of how to find this magical fit in any learning experience you create.
In our discussion, we cover:
- 03:10 - "What is an educational program? It's a series of humans and operational processes that are bound together that take a student from wherever they are to some goal. And so for each goal, those humans and those operational processes need to be very different. No matter what school you are, just because you can do one thing well doesn't mean you can do everything well . Just because Harvard has a great law school doesn't mean it would have a great pastry chef program. That was the beginning of the path. The school itself is just a signalling mechanism really, right? It's saying , hey, we're procedures, or, hey, we're whatever. It doesn't actually have that much control outside of where it spends its budget over the quality of the educational program. And when I started looking into the data, I started to see over and over again, that the thing that was really producing educational outcomes was the teacher. Like full-stop"
- 06:38 - "The founding principle is that the teacher's attention is the most valuable piece in the educational brew or ecosystem. If you really want to have a high quality educational experience, you'd increase the amount of teacher attention that each child is receiving."
- 09:21 - "The bet was that we could take outstanding teachers and give them high autonomy, and it would produce better educational outcomes. And that turns out to be true."
- 13:45 - "You're abstracting away whatever's unnecessary, you're matching the right teacher (with the right philosophy and experience) with the family and what they're looking for. And then a group is formed around that. So it's a bit like product-teacher-market fit. Market being the family. You're basically making sure that the right teacher and the right family are interacting ."
- 23:04 - "The most interesting thing to me is that when we removed all the prescriptive schedules and cells and bells, (I can't remember who said that, but I thought it was a good phrase), they move faster. That's interesting. Let's push on that. Let's use that."
- 27:37 - "Maybe the way of thinking about it: If you have an assembly line, attention doesn't matter. If you're a sculptor, attention is everything. And our teachers aren't on an assembly line anymore. They're working with the marble in front of them."
Here are some resources mentioned in our discussion:
- Can a School Have Product-Market Fit? by Brian Tobal
- What is the Orton-Gillingham Approach?
- Bloom's 2 sigma problem
- Tiago Forte - Live Q&A with SchoolHouse CEO Brian Tobal
Where to learn more about Brian and SchoolHouse:
- Twitter - https://twitter.com/briantobal
- LinkedIn - https://www.linkedin.com/in/brian-tobal-a4946911
- Website - https://www.getschoolhouse.com/
- Email - firstname.lastname@example.org
Where to learn more about Enrollhand:
Our webinar: https://webinar-replay.enrollhand.com
Our free Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/schoolgrowth/