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Superintendent Insights: Here Are My Favorites

Developing K-12 products & services can be fun and exciting when we think about “what they can do.” There’s nothing like letting the creative juices flow and creating something new.

Creating successful K-12 products & services means more than great product features. One pillar of success is to deeply understand our customers.

Listening to our customers is a GIFT. They help paint a picture of where they are and where they want to be. They describe, in their own words, their challenges. They share what’s important to them–and just as meaningfully, what’s not important. These insights not only help us create a product or service they need, they also help us create a compelling message.

So when four inspiring and transformational superintendents were featured on the last day of the 2023 Tech & Learning EdExec Summit in Atlanta, you bet I was taking notes. This session was a gold mine of information.

These superintendents addressed one of my favorite questions: What’s keeping you up at night?

Here are takeaways from that session and implications for K-12 education companies. Enjoy!

Literacy and numeracy. While we’ve seen growth in other subjects, such as STEM and CTE, all roads lead to literacy and numeracy. Implication: Connections to literacy and/or numeracy can boost the interest in any product or service, regardless of its subject area focus.

Pandemic recovery and learning loss. With the broad COVID shutdowns behind us, schools and districts are facing the tough realities of the post-COVID era. Pandemic recovery is needed in academics (learning loss), as well as in social-emotional, mental health, school communities, school culture, and more. Implications: There’s no time to lose. Education companies must develop research-based resources that can support students and teachers. And, transformation will take time. Education companies must be ready to work right alongside education leaders to overcome these challenges.

Declining enrollment and low attendance. Students are moving out of the public school system or simply not showing up for school. Declining enrollment and low attendance means loss of funds for schools and districts. Implication: School and district leaders need resources that can help reverse these trends. Here is where community building, student engagement, and meeting students and families where they are can make a difference.

Helping teachers re-adapt to life back at school. Teaching has always been far more complex than creating good lesson plans. COVID impacts have only added to the challenges of teaching. Now more than ever, district leaders recognize the importance of supporting teachers to feel and be more confident and capable. Implication: District leaders may be more drawn to solutions that more broadly support teachers—from subject matter expertise and best practices, to building resiliency and a community of professional learning.

Delivering on their promise. The transformative work of our superintendents is hard. (These four said it themselves!) They’ve made commitments to their entire learning community: teachers, students, administrators, parents, and more. Change is difficult and will no doubt mean bumps in the road. Implication: Superintendents look to trusted partners who are in it for the long haul. They seek out partners who are willing to roll up their sleeves and do the hard work right alongside them as part of their team.

Customer insights can make a big difference in creating (or improving) K-12 education products and services. How will you put these insights into action?

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