While most people concentrate on curriculum, a large part of education reform will require revolutionary ideas about professional development for teachers. Tioki, an award-winning online professional network exclusively for the education community is one of those ideas. Dubbed “The LinkedIn for Teachers,” Tioki helps people passionate about education connect to one another, discover opportunities, and share information.
Tioki founder Mandela Schumacher-Hodge will be joining Black Enterprise and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for “Today’s Business Crisis: Educating Tomorrow’s Workforce,” which will be held May 15, 2013.
Along with other EduTech entrepreneurs who have a dedicated interest in expanding and implementing new technologies in classrooms to assist teachers, students, and parents, Schumacher-Hodge will share solutions for the critical challenges facing American education. Mandela has had the unique experience of seeing the education industry from a variety of vantage points – as a teacher, associate administrator, education researcher, and co-founder of an education technology company.
Prior to Tioki, Schumacher-Hodge was a Teach for America corps member and has three years of in-classroom teaching experience in both district and charter public schools. As COO, the 27-year-old power woman leads Tioki’s product development from vision to implementation and is responsible for driving strategic partnerships, sales, and overall marketing strategy.
Tioki has expanded into an international platform used by teachers in over 28 different countries, as well as many of the nation’s top-performing schools and education organizations.
As we prepare for tomorrow’s symposium, BlackEnterprise.com asked Schumacher-Hodge to deliberate on the challenges teachers face and provide advice on using social media and technology as a stopgap to those issues.
What inspired you to launch Tioki?
During my teaching career, there were two particular experiences I went through that subsequently influenced my decision to launch Tioki. The first was being laid off from the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), the second largest school district in the country. The lay-off was a seniority-based process. Rather than take into account factors such as one’s ability to effectively educate children, student performance scores, and teacher evaluations, the district made their decision solely based on the number of years the teacher had been at the school.
The second incident that played into my decision to launch Tioki was my experience hiring new teachers. After being laid off from LAUSD, I was re-hired at a charter school in Pacoima, California, and had some administrator responsibilities on top of my general teaching duties. For the first-time ever, I was on the other side of the hiring table, vetting candidates and trying to figure out what criteria I would enlist to determine who was the best fit for an open co-teacher position. I devoted numerous hours to this selection process, and gave up my own classroom five different times to accommodate demo lessons from candidates.