Magazine article Vocational Education Journal

25 Ways to Become an Educational Entrepreneur

Magazine article Vocational Education Journal

25 Ways to Become an Educational Entrepreneur

Article excerpt

In these times of limited budgets and requests to do more for less, vocational-technical teachers need some inventive ways to secure funding and otherwise keep their programs strong. I put this list together to help educate my student teachers about the crucial networking aspect of their future jobs.

Perhaps other teachers can co-opt a few "scrounging" tips from these 25 ideas:

1. Explore other disciplines for curriculum materials and their sources of "freebies." Physics and mathematics are naturals for technology education; anthropology and sociology for home economics.

2. Industry provides free curriculum materials (lessons, posters, kits) and professional development for teachers. For example, the Insurance Education Foundation and Apple Corporation both offer intensive staff development training for teachers during summer institutes. National associations such as the Coal Institute provide quality classroom materials free.

3. Another good source for curriculum materials are the six regional curriculum coordination centers that are part of the National Network for Curriculum Coordination. In addition to curriculum products, the centers have textbooks and audiovisual aides and will search computer databases or provide other services. For the price of postage (one way), curriculum units and lesson plans for your subject area will be mailed to you for your review. The 10 Regional Education Laboratories and the National Center for Research in Vocational Education are other sources.

4. Join electronic mail discussion groups on local computer bulletin boards or the Internet to exchange information and lesson plans.

5. Write to publishers on your school stationery for complimentary desk copies of books and software. Free copies of journals also are available to targeted groups of educators.

6. If you can't attend a conference, find someone who did and get a copy of the conference program guide, which usually lists the names and addresses of exhibitors and presenters. Contact them for copies of materials and catalogs or to set up a discussion on a topic of interest. You also can ask a colleague to take your business cards and a "gotta-have" list to conference exhibitors and attendees.

7. Go for the gold! Take a grant writing class and put your skills to work applying for local, state, federal, corporate and foundation funding.

8. Form business-education partnerships that provide a service to the sponsoring business. For example, high school computer science students and their teacher at Delta Junction High School in Alaska outfitted most of their high-tech computer lab with tax-deductible donations from an oil company and the Alaska Permanent Dividend Fund. They agreed to pay for the needed equipment in return for a student-produced hypercard stack on CD that teaches the basics of the dividend fund. (The Alaska Permanent Dividend Fund shares oil profits with residents.)

9. Dig through surplus equipment and supplies offered through the federal government, universities, school districts and municipalities for use in vo-tech labs. An Anchorage technology teacher uses surplus equipment to involve his students in "unengineering" projects. They learn about how something works by taking it apart. The teacher recently acquired some laser scanners from a grocery chain.

10. Visit government agency libraries and go online to contact the Department of Education and other agencies to find out about free or inexpensive posters, displays, visuals and printed classrooms materials. …

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