Hey, You Look Like a Teacher so Buy My Edtech Thing

It took 6 seconds of walking into the opening party at SXSWedu for me to be stopped by a person with a startup because of all of the people in my group of educators, I was the one who looked the most like a teacher. This is how this conference typically works. Those in the business of selling their goods, services and souls look at my badge showing my school district and immediately start groveling at the thought of getting their “probably crappy” tool in front of “my students”. There’s a look for this that appears the moment the primer question drops …”What grade do you teach?”

I watched the “blue penpal shirt” marketing folks targeting “you look like a teacher” attendees throughout the conference and their seemingly random selection of who to approach and who to skip was just as confusing as their actual company name, which I didn’t catch. I only saw the word “penpal” on their shirts…my bad.

I can’t even tell you what was more frightening, the teachers trying to dodge being approached or the person doing the approaching. That is how grossly terrible it was.

The thing is that this practice doesn’t happen as often in other teaching and learning spaces unless people choose it in vendor areas, which sxswedu does not have which brings me to the point of this piece.

Actually, I have several points.

  1. Dear tech companies who make products for schools but have no idea how they actually work or what any of us do, there are a ton of career paths in schools and not all of us have classrooms.
  2. How does a teacher look again? Please let me know so that I can better mask myself against your seemingly unintentional idiocy.
  3. SXSWedu needs to create a space for these interactions that doesn’t interfere with where educators learn and edtech marketing folks need to respect it.
  4. If you have to convince me of how disrupting your idea or product is, it probably isn’t.
  5. Hey SXSWedu, if you want more educators to attend this conference, perhaps you should make it a bit more clear that this isn’t an edtech space as so many of your staff have exclaimed because it kind of is…and these moments do not help.

Just a few thoughts…