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Your Classroom is Your Business - 5 Must Dos to Become CEO of Your Classroom

Feb 05, 2024

 Some people say teaching is an art, others say it’s a science. 

I, personally, would argue that teaching is a business

You may want to wrinkle your nose, roll your eyes, and lecture me about all the reasons education should NOT, in fact, be treated as a business. 

But just stick with me for a second.

When I was in high school, I decided to “start a business” as my senior project. 

Armed with a hot glue gun and a plethora of craft supplies, I bedazzled pens and sold them outside of my local grocery store. 

I didn’t get rich, but hey, I made some money to donate to our senior grad party at the high school, so I guess you could call it a success.

For a long time, that’s what I thought business meant. It was selling a product or service in order to make money.

But when I suggest that teaching is a business, what I actually mean is that teaching is like a business.

One way to define a business is: “An organization that sells goods and services to customers who want or need them.” 

A classroom is similar and here’s how - your classroom is the organization and instead of “selling” you are offering up knowledge and instruction free of charge to students who want or need it. 

Your classroom is your business, the instruction you provide is the good or service, depending on which way you think about it, and your customers are your students.

So, if we’re able to draw parallels between the worlds of teaching and business, then maybe we can apply some of the same strategies we would use when starting and managing a business to starting and managing our classrooms.

The five tips I’m sharing with you below are must-dos you would expect any successful business to be doing

Only, I’m going to translate them into must-dos that we, as teachers, can implement in order to find success on our own.


Must Do 01 : Brand Yourself as a Teacher

If I ask you to name a successful business, what would you say? 

Amazon. Starbucks. Apple. 

You may or may not be fans of the products, but nobody can deny that these are successful businesses. 

What we’re really recognizing here is the brand though, not the product. 

Some of the most successful businesses out there are successful because of excellent branding.

Excellent branding is about generating emotional connection. 

It’s about creating an identity and establishing a purpose and then using that to drive every decision in the business.

Believe it or not, we can do the same thing as teachers. 

Every teacher has their own unique *brand* of teaching. 

Your teacher brand is made up of your strengths, passions, + values. 

At the very core, your brand represents what drives you as a teacher.

When you identify your *brand* as a teacher and then align what you do in your classroom with your brand, that’s where you’ll find enthusiasm and excitement for teaching. 

And that’s where the emotional connection happens. 

Because students’ enthusiasm often mirrors our own. 

At the very least, students can distinguish between the teachers who show up because it’s a job versus the ones who show up because they are really passionate about what they do.

To sum up your Teacher Brand, you can identify something I like to call your Big 5. 

Your Big Five are the core principles that make up the foundation of your Teacher Brand and become your driving force within the classroom.

The greatest impact of identifying your Big 5 is that you can then use this as an anchor for all that you do in the classroom. 

As you design your classroom experience, plan lessons, create resources, and so on, staying aligned to your Big 5 will help you stay authentic to who you are as a teacher.

And authenticity matters because a.) when we lose authenticity, we become disillusioned with teaching + that just leads to burnout and b.) like I said before, students can smell inauthenticity and they just won’t buy-in to what you're “selling”.


Must Do 02 : Plan for Success

“A goal without a plan is just a wish.”

You’ve probably heard that quote before, right? 

Funny enough, when is the last time you sat down to write specific goals (that mattered to you) for your classroom? For your teaching, in general? 

Maybe you set some goals at the beginning of the school year as part of your back-to-school prep with admin.  

Maybe these are the same goals you get evaluated on at the end of the school year. 

Maybe the extent of goal-setting for you is the personal resolutions set during New Year holidays. 

Or maybe goal-setting isn’t a thing for you at all right now. 

Whether you are aware of them or not, I’m pretty confident you have goals for yourself as a teacher and for your classroom on the whole.

But it’s not enough just to spout off the goals you have once they come to mind.

These goals can only have a chance at success when you actually draft up a plan + then put that plan into action. 

If I were still selling my totally rad bedazzled pens today, I wouldn’t take this business idea and just sit in front of the grocery store hoping to clear out my stock of bedazzled pens.

I would plan for that success. I would set goals and figure out exactly what I needed to do in order to achieve the success I envisioned.

The easiest way I’ve found to do this is by creating + following a goal-setting process.

My favorite way to set goals is based on a system I like to call my Goal-Setting Funnel.

Start with a long-term vision and then identify the short-term goals that will move you towards your ideal future. 

Out of these short term goals, choose a goal to focus on each month and be intentional about creating an action plan for that goal. 

Define tasks within your action plan that you need to accomplish in order to move towards your goal and then assign those tasks to specific weeks of the month.

Then get intentional about the tasks you focus on each day. 

If an investor asked the business owner what the plan was to make that business a success, the owner would never say, oh we just plan to show up and see what happens

If they did, they wouldn’t be in business for long.

As teachers, we have to do more than just show up everyday and hope to make a difference. We need to be in a habit of setting goals both for ourselves and for our classroom, if we care about making what we do a success.


Must Do 03 : Organize Your Organization 

Just like any business owner would, you’ve got stuff flying at you all day every day that demands your attention. 

As a teacher, you have a heavy workload, no doubt about it. 

Sometimes it can feel like you're losing your grip on control when the to-dos start piling up.

It’s so easy to lose sight of not just your goals, but also your purpose, when you’re so focused on juggling your to-do list and just trying to stay afloat.

The overwhelm and anxiety that builds up in this type of scenario can only lead to one thing… burnout.

But let me let you in on a little secret… the antidote to burnout is productivity

Why is that?

Because the more productive you are, the more impact you can have

I once read that productivity is a culmination of being efficient and effective. So essentially, productivity improves when you are making more impact in less time. 

We all want to make an impact.

Whether it’s impacting our students, or our to-do list.

So in order to maximize our impact, we need to focus on our productivity. Productivity starts with getting intentional.

The best way I practice being intentional is through my planning system. 

Again, just like with goal-setting, I like to think of this planning process as being a sort of productivity funnel.

At the beginning of every quarter, I set my intention for the months ahead by identifying a “theme word”. This helps bring intention, focus + clarity to my plans throughout the quarter. 

I want to make sure I’m being productive in things that truly matter to me, which is why I intentionally practice goal-setting each month. 

Developing my habits not only boosts my productivity, but gets me closer to the “end-game” me that I envision for myself in the future. So I focus on habit development during each week.

Finally, I want to make sure I am calibrating my tasks each day, so that I am prioritizing the most important tasks first. 

Because it’s way too easy to end up playing whack-a-mole with your task list, just swatting at the first task that pops up in order to clear it from your list.

The problem with that is the tasks that pop up may not always align with the bigger picture, so practicing prioritization helps to ensure productivity in ways that matter the most.


Must Do 04 : Focus on the Student Experience 

While it might feel outside-of-the-box to do, I want you to try thinking about your students as if they were your customers. 

Let me put it this way... 

A business exists in order to solve some sort of problem for a customer. Without customers, there would be no business.

You see where I’m going with this, right?

Without students, there would be no teachers. 

So, for the sake of improvement, let’s look at our students through a lens as though they were our customers.

That means we need to make focusing on the customer experience, or rather the student experience, a big part of what we do. 

One of my favorite ways to do this is using a Journey Map.

This is basically a process where you map out a  journey from a student’s perspective, be it the journey through a school day or a class period, depending on what you teach. 

The best part about this exercise is the insight you gain from it.

You can more easily see where gaps exist in your routines. Or at which points you may need to beef up classroom management. Or where you might be missing some vital part of the learning process. And so on.

Even if you’ve never taught before, this is an ideal exercise to use for prep - which is why there’s a workshop under development to guide you through this very exercise, coming soon in The Teachure School!

Another one of my favorite ways of focusing on the student experience is by helping a group of students identify their Focus 4. 

Earlier I mentioned that you have values that drive your teacher brand. Well, values should also drive the student experience - that’s where the Focus 4 come in.

As a class, take students through a process of identifying their values. After narrowing their values down together as a group, the Focus 4 end up as the top four values agreed upon by all students in the group.

If your Big 5 serve as an anchor to your purpose for you, as the teacher – the Focus 4 serve as an anchor for students to a meaningful student experience.

Classroom community, policies + procedures, lessons + activities… they all can be developed with the Focus 4 in mind. 


Must Do 05 : Develop a Business (aka Classroom) Plan 

A good business plan reflects a thought-out brand identity. 

It showcases goals and a plan of action to reach those goals.

It’s a tool for organization.

It takes into account the customer and their experience.

Most importantly though, in my opinion, it’s a tool for preparation. 

Creating a business plan means you’ve thought through objectives, strategies, and measures of success.

Thinking through these details ahead of time not only makes you more prepared for the reality of your business, but it makes you more confident about its success. 

This is the level of preparation we need for our classrooms.

Teachers need a written plan of the key elements that will help their classrooms run.

This plan should steer a teacher in structuring, running, and improving the classroom.

It should inform decision-making and encourage alignment to the most authentic experience possible for both the teacher and their students. 

And it should help a teacher feel more confident walking into their classroom.  

Not just because they have a well thought out, strategic plan in place; but also because it’s a plan that aligns with their purpose. It’s a plan that allows for alignment with student values.

Every teacher needs a plan, I’ll coach you to yours in The Teachure School! Join the waitlist now.

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