30 Seconds to Impress

August 4, 2016
Sarah Leiker, New Tech Network Coach

Sarah Leiker, New Tech Network Coach

Ahhhh, the ole’ elevator pitch. A quick ride from the 3rd floor to the Lobby to toss out one of your genius ideas and make it stick! The part most of us struggle with is that our ideas just aren’t concise enough to fully articulate in that quick elevator ride, so we blabber and muddle our way through what we’d like to accomplish but just as the elevator door is opening, we realize we haven’t actually even pitched our idea!!!! So why are you waiting on figuring out the message you want to send to others about your ideas and your work!

For educators, our “elevator pitch” is kind of a big deal. While you may not think you’re pitching anything to anyone, I would challenge you to think about all the times you have and if it’s really what defines you and your work. Anytime someone has ever asked you, “what do you do?” You’ve undoubtedly responded with an elevator pitch. Mine was always, “I teach math to MS and HS students.”  Is it true? yes. Did it define me? Apparently. Am I happy about that? HECK NO!  “I teach math”!?! That’s so lame! Ok, it’s not lame, but compared to all of the things I REALLY did in my classroom, it was lame!

  • I inspired* creativity through practical applications of mathematical problem solving.
  • I supported* students in using data to challenge other’s perspectives.
  • I made* math come alive to MS and HS students.

THOSE ARE GREAT ELEVATOR PITCHES! Any one of those gives a better perspective on what I hope students took away from my classroom beyond “doing math” and also opens up dialogue to how others (anyone who would listen, basically) might be able to connect to the math we’re learning and join me in the adventure of engaging students in real world applications of data!

So, friends… ask yourself this question, “10 years from now, what do you hope your students remember from your class?”  You might also consider:

  • What makes your learning environment unique?
  • What is the result of your teaching and learning with students?
  • How do you create results?

(If your answer to the main question is “I want students to know how to graph a line given an equation in slope-intercept form”, then… Great. “You teach math” might just do the trick for your elevator pitch. But if you hope students take away an experience. A learning adventure. An opportunity to engage in learning that is much greater than regurgitation of a specific standard in your area of expertise, then I’m begging you…. PLEASE… take 15 min. to craft your elevator pitch. Embed it in everything that you do (your projects, your open house nights, your bulletin boards and/or student displays of work in your room, etc.) Your curriculum, classroom, and culture should exude the message of your “elevator pitch.”

Peace, love, and “what floor?”

*Note: The elevator pitches I should have been using are referred to in past tense as these are reflections on what I did for 6 years as a math teacher before I became a School Development Coach with New Tech Network.

Read more from Sarah at Leik’ It or Not