I ended my Challenge Detroit fellowship year working with Teach313, a year-old initiative created to retain and attract educators in the city of Detroit.
My project liaison and I codesigned a project surrounded around the question of educator discounts. Together, we asked the question “How might Teach313 best leverage the educator discounts provided by Detroit’s small business community to support the city’s educators?”
To begin to answer our complicated question, I spoke with small business owners in the city who already offer discounts to educators. We talked about the value in discounts, the power a discount can have to reflect a business’ values and mission and the potential discounts have to create a sense of solidarity.
I also had the opportunity to speak to some of the Teach313 ambassador teachers. These are educators who, in addition to their duties in the classroom, connect their peer educators to knowledge sharing opportunities and Teach313 educator appreciation events. In my conversations with these fantastic teachers, I was reminded that while educator discounts are a powerful tool in many ways, that they are inherently limited.
Educator discounts can create a culture of appreciation in Detroit’s business community and make some purchases more affordable for the city’s teachers, but educator discounts alone cannot create the political change necessary to address the national teacher shortage, high levels of teacher burnout or the devaluation of teachers as professionals.
Coming out of my conversations, I worked with my project liaison at Teach313 to create 3 exciting deliverables. While I feel proud of all of the tools I created with and for the Teach313 team, I feel most proud of the “Teacher Awards toolkit” I created. The toolkit contains a roadmap for the Teach313 team to follow should they choose to launch a Detroit educator award program. Based on the research I collected about the ways other American cities honor their exemplary educators, I believe this toolkit will make it far easier for Teach313 to roll out an Educator Award celebration in Detroit.
Finally, this project was a chance to reflect on how much I learned through my fellowship year. It was an opportunity to really implement the design thinking tool kit I’ve gained over this year– a chance to check in with myself and see how deftly I could use my new mental frameworks and vocabulary.
If you are a small business owner and you are interested in offering an educator discount, learn more about partnering with Teach313 here!
If you are an educator in Detroit and you are interested in learning more about Teach313’s services, learn more here!