Ordinary Magic

We created ClassJourney because we’re obsessed with the ordinary magic that permeates inspiring classrooms. We believe that this magic is not the province of a select few, but can be accessible to us all. Here’s how it feels:

Col. Aureliano Buendia first saw magic as a boy, when a gypsy revealed a steaming hunk of ice in a crowded Caribbean carnival. Aureliano was young. But his father, an inventor and leader of men, also felt the same magic in that block of ice.
Gabriel Garcia Marquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude

So common, ice. So ordinary. But it was a moment that changed their lives.

The best classrooms create the feeling of wonder elicited by Garcia Marquez’s Caribbean carnival. The wonder of learning brings people together through shared experience. This ordinary magic is elusive and it is sustaining. It is seeing a guarded student learn to trust. It’s being a part of a team. It’s helping someone you’ve no reason to help and talking to someone nobody else will talk to. It is being your best self, and helping others do the same. Ordinary magic feels like love because it is love.

The best classrooms share this feeling. Teachers orchestrate the magic, but they’re not independently responsible for it. It happens with students, and it happens because of adults. It’s rooted in human connection.

Technology can’t connect, but it can facilitate connection. It can help teachers inspire engagement. It can honor not only the content of learning, but also the process of learning. It can take best teaching practices and help them become standard practices. It can build bridges between the halls of academia and the public school classroom. It can put powerful information in the hands of educators so that they can personalize instruction for students.

To support the proliferation of ordinary magic in classrooms across the world, we attend to these design principles:

Support teachers. We won’t build anything that doesn’t meet a real need for teachers, and that doesn’t make excellent teaching easier.

Learning is social. All over the world, young people gather in groups of 7–40, four to six days per week, for the purpose of classroom-based education. This is the time we’ve allotted for teaching and group learning, so we build products to make that time engaging and meaningful for all students. Social learning is the beating heart of our products because it’s the beating heart of your classroom.

Best practice can be standard practice. We take research from leading academic institutions and, in partnership with teachers, make those best practices accessible to everyone.

Actionable information is the only information that matters. We present information about student learning to teachers and to students only when it is actionable for support, feedback, and celebration.

Delightful design. First and foremost, we’re educators. As such, we’ve interacted with hundreds of technology products that are complicated, hideous, and buggy. We will only release classroom technology that is just as elegant and intuitive as the software we enjoy using in our personal lives.

Exacto, not Swiss Army. We prioritize simplicity and function above support for every possible use case. As such, we release products that have been refined to perfection for the classroom needs they’re designed to address.

Focus on interaction. Teachers create ordinary magic with their students by building trust, by developing empowering structures, and through skillful and creative planning towards clear learning outcomes. We support by offering students opportunities to engage in positive behaviors that translate into increased growth mindset, self-efficacy, sense of purpose, and academic belonging. Content is important for learning, but our focus is pedagogy.

Real classrooms. Chromebooks break. Phones run out of power mid-way through activities. Students arrive late. We’ll build credibility by working dependably for real classrooms, with all the surprises they present.

Our founding team is comprised of educators and technologists who are passionate about teaching and obsessed with the ordinary magic that teachers inspire. And while we have deep experience in the field, we also have much to learn. We are committed to user experience research, which is a fancy way of saying that, if you’re a teacher, we want to get to know you and we want to work with you.

Please don’t be a stranger. If you go to www.classjourney.org, you’ll be able to sign up to get on our waitlist for early access.