By: Carla R., High School Teacher at Western School of Science & Technology and Founder of CRC Education Services, LLC
If you’ve ever taught in the K-12 setting, you’ve probably experienced a “practice what you preach” moment. What do I mean by that? Have you ever interrupted your own lesson to lecture your students about the importance of being prepared and meeting deadlines only to hear a tiny voice inside your head that says, “take your own advice!” Full disclosure: I have. Guilty as charged. I have lectured my students about not completing homework when the night before I sent an email to my instructional coach saying I was going to need an extension.
Those moments did not feel good, but now that I have the privilege of teaching SEED SPOT curriculum, those “practice what you preach” moments have a different context. What sets the SEED SPOT curriculum apart from others is that it shifted my mindset from “if you make mistakes you won’t be successful in this class” to “if you make mistakes you will learn so much in this class.” Every day, I find joy and excitement in affirming my students’ dreams and making what seems like a small idea into a viable product or service. This curriculum has done an incredible job at disrupting my idea of what a typical classroom should look like and forcing me to practice a culture of “yes!”
Teaching SEED SPOT hasn’t just made me a better educator, it has made me a better business owner. I started my own education consulting company, CRC Education Services, LLC, five months before I began teaching SEED SPOT curriculum. In many ways, I was building a plane while flying it. But early in the school year, something incredible and unexpected happened. As I was coaching my students on how to start their own social ventures, I started to hear that voice again saying, “You should practice what you preach!” Only now, the tone is not a tiny voice scolding me, but an excited voice that can’t wait to get started.
Here are the three pieces of advice the tiny voice in my head has liked the most so far:
It’s okay to fail. Fail fast and fail forward.
There have already been several ideas, services, strategies, or meetings that have not gone as well as I had imagined in my mind and I was really beating myself up over it. In giving my students grace and allowing their ideas to flop, I was able to also extend that same grace to myself. Some lessons are better than others, some marketing is better than others, some pitches are better than others. It’s okay. Rejection and failure is part of the learning process and it not an indicator of your worth. As my friend and fellow entrepreneur Colin Seale tells his staff, “Fail fabulously!”
Iterate. Iterate. Iterate.
While my vision and purpose for my company is strong and has yet to change, my mission and my “how I accomplish this” has been evolving each month. As in the design thinking process, I have a lot of ideas on the table and I haven’t ruled any product or service out. But as time passes, my ideas and my direction become clearer and narrower. When I embarked on the journey of starting my own business, I kept hearing advice to “be specific about what you do and pick one thing”. While that advice is appreciated, right now, I am allowing myself the time and space to remain open-minded and explore all the ways my company may evolve. Evolution is good! Evolution is necessary.
I must admit that I get on my students’ case for not having stronger customer validation, but it’s hard and it’s the area I am weakest in as well. Things I thought would be popular have flopped and things I thought were just a small idea have blossomed. If I am true to my user and to my vision, I need to let go of the ideas I hold dear and pursue what my customers truly need and want. If that’s the case, then I better go talk to them!
So, if you are a small business owner and you are feeling stuck, my advice to you is to join the SEED SPOT movement. If you can’t teach a class, volunteer to sit on a panel. Visit a classroom and tell your story. Mentor a group of SEED SPOT students as they prepare for Demo Day. You’ll find yourself giving your students great advice and, if you’re lucky, you may hear a voice in your head say, “you should probably be doing that, too.”
Transform your students into leaders of the future.
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Related articles about SEED SPOT Schools:
>>“3 Ways to Bring Entrepreneurship into the Classroom”
>>“Discomfort is Where Student Growth Takes Place”
>>“3 Benefits of Teaching High School Students Entrepreneurship”