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Show Me the Money: 6 Steps to Help Teachers Advocate for an EdTech Purchase

Posted by Chris Brida

Jun 29, 2015 10:11:00 AM

It’s that time of the year—budget time! Well, actually it’s not that time of the year because budgets are frozen, but it’s the time of year to start thinking about what you might want for your classroom next year. And I’m not talking about pencils and paper, I’m talking about technology.

You’ve gone to all the tradeshows, your colleagues have told you what’s good, and now you just need to convince your principal to make an investment in you and your classroom. I’m very purposeful about my use of “investment” here, because that’s what EdTech is. You aren’t just throwing money into a wishing well and hoping for something good. Instead, you’re going through a very deliberate process and asking your principal to make an investment in the success of your classroom.

So now what? You want it, but how do you get it? There’s a process that I think is tried and true (I’ve tried it once, and it worked!) that I want to share with you about going through the procurement process with your principal.

1. Develop a vision.   

I just wrote a long paper on developing vision for organizational change. Why should you care? Because that’s exactly what you’re doing here. You’ve decided that you want to make a change in the classroom for the benefit of your students, but why? Is it because the curriculum is not supporting their needs? Is it because you want to have supplemental material because they are weak in certain skills? Whatever the reason is, you need a vision for why you want to make a change. Don’t change something for the sake of making change—be deliberate! You’re going to have to sell your principal on this idea you have, so make sure you believe in it.

2. Do some research.

You’re going to have a lot of questions to answer so it’s important that you know exactly what you’re getting. Don’t just go on hearsay here—try the free trial versions of the tech programs you want to use. Have some knowledge about the functionality of the program so that you can explain the purpose to your principal.

They are going to want to know what this is going to change about the way you conduct your business in the classroom, so you should know specifics. Show them how the program works and some of the cool features. You might think you are wasting your time, but you’re advocating for a change in the way your class is taught—your principal deserves to know.

Also, keep in mind that administrators have their own priorities for what happens at school. When considering the problems your technology solves, don’t just answer the question “What does this do for me?” but also answer the question “What does this do for the administrator making the final decision?”

If transparency around progress toward preparedness for state assessments is something your admin would like more of, and your proposed purchase would help, make sure to include this in your proposal. If growing class sizes have stretched the teachers at your school thin, and your admin would like to give each student more individual support, let them know how your tool will help.

Question: If it’s not meaningful or useful, why would they invest in it?

Answer: They won’t.

3. Prepare a cost estimate.

Even before a formal proposal, you have to put the number in the mind of the principal. This is probably the hardest part because you know funding is tight in your school (if not, where do I apply?) and you don’t want to be laughed at. Remember before when I said investment? That could mean a substantial amount of money, but it’s important to be realistic.

Mrs. Trunchbull (English reference!) isn’t going to shell out half a million bucks for an e-textbook, so think practically about what you’re asking for. The technology you want has to be meaningful (check steps 1 and 2) both in terms of usage and in terms of finances.

With all that said, don’t be afraid here. Ask for what you really need because the worst they can say is no!

4. Write a formal proposal.

This step is really school dependent and district dependent. In my research for this article I came across a lot of school districts that require a ton of paperwork and a legitimate application for technology expenses.

At my school, its less formal, but whatever the process is, be prepared to follow the same general set of guidelines. My suggestion is to follow the idea of the Golden Circle when writing your proposal.

If you’re unfamiliar, the idea here is that almost all leaders follow a similar pattern for making any decision—start with the what you are going to do, explain how you are going to do it, and then explain why. The reason I say almost all is because some of the greatest leaders complete this process in reverse—start with the why? As part of this formal proposal, you could explain the needs of your classroom and the vision you have for it first, then explain how this new technology will help you make this change. It’s important that you can sell the idea for the tool you want purchased—not just what it is, but how it works, and why it’s important—as I’ve mentioned multiple times before.

You truly have to believe in what you’re getting so you can make your principal believe too. They want what is best for the school, so make them understand that this is what you’re proposing! 

5. Wait.  

This is the worst part. Don’t pace, because it could take a while. Your school leader may be able to provide you with a timeline, but it’s important to understand that often times the budgeting process is out of the principal’s control. That shouldn’t deter you from moving forward with your plan, however. There is no time like the present to present your case for an important expense, and as soon as some funds are shored up, you better believe your proposal (assuming its memorable) will stick with your principal.

6. Rejection? No problem.

Failure is not the end here—there are other sources of funding you might not be considering.

DonorsChoose is a great option for teachers looking for a way to enhance their classroom. There may be alternative options within the company as well, so shoot them an email. You never know what might come out of emailing the tech company you want for your classroom (like a sweet blogging gig?) Check into bringing others into your proposal, like your whole department. No matter what, do not be discouraged. Money is finite, unfortunately, and just because your proposal did not take the cake doesn’t mean it’s not worth it. Make it worth it! 

Do your students need help learning math? Schedule a demo now to see how LearnBop can help.

A note on guest posts: Our community blog is a place for educators from all walks of life to share opinions and exchange ideas. Simply because a post appears here does not necessarily mean we endorse the views presented therein. That being said, we'd love to hear what you think! Please post any questions or comments below, and we'll get right back. 

About the Author

Chris_Brida_Headshot-1Chris Brida is a mathematics teacher in Baltimore, MD. He currently teaches 9th grade Algebra. Chris is a regular guest contributor to our blog, and we feel lucky to have him. 

Topics: Implementing the Common Core, Resources, State News

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