Data Driven Leadership

Dr. Chad Steven Shares the Secret to Family Engagement in Education

Guest: Chad Stevens, Chief Strategy and Marketing Officer, Parent Square

If you're a parent, you know how critical it is to connect with teachers. And research backs this intuition up. From Harvard to the Journal of Education Research, numerous studies show that family engagement in education boosts student learning outcomes. So, how do we engage families in learning? It all starts with clean data and interoperability.

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If you're a parent, you know how critical it is to connect with teachers. And research backs this intuition up. From Harvard to the Journal of Education Research, numerous studies show that family engagement in education boosts student learning outcomes.

So, how do we engage families in learning? It all starts with clean data and interoperability.

Here to explain the relationship between tech and family engagement in learning is Strategy and Marketing Officer Dr. Chad Stevens. Chad shares what he’s learned from his career in the education industry, including his work at ParentSquare, and the innovative ways the right technology seamlessly brings families and educators together.

Chad explains the importance of clean data, interoperability, and connecting applications like ParentSquare to other forms of data to give educators and parents the information they need at the right time. He also shares his insights on making data-driven decisions as an EdTech leader and emphasizes the need to stay focused on learners.

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • How interoperability enables family engagement in learning
  • Why empathy and active listening pave the way for tech that supports education
  • How to leverage both intuition and data in decision-making

In this podcast:

  • [00:00-06:45] An introduction to the episode
  • [06:45-11:45] The importance of data interoperability
  • [11:45-16:30] Bridging the gap between technology and instruction
  • [16:30-20:45] How interoperability impacts family involvement in education
  • [20:45-28:30] Balancing intuition with data
  • [28:30-32:41] Staying focused on learners as technology evolves

Our Guest

Chad Stevens

Chad Stevens

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At the time of the podcast recording, Chad Stevens was the Chief Strategy and Marketing Officer at ParentSquare where he is charged with shaping ParentSquare's strategic direction, advising on all aspects of company operations, and driving its marketing initiatives. Chad works closely with the leadership team to define and execute growth strategies, while overseeing all aspects of marketing and brand development. This includes ownership of content, engagement, enablement, and education. He is now the Chief Executive Officer at TinkRworks.

Prior to ParentSquare Chad led the K-12 Education Vertical at Amazon Web Services, was the Chief Education Strategist for CDW-G, and a Senior K-20 Education Consultant at Dell, Inc. Before the private sector, Chad had a successful 14-year career as Teacher, Assistant Principal, Principal, Director of Instructional Technology and Chief Technology Officer. He maintains Superintendent Certification in Texas.

Chad is a current member of the CoSN Board of Directors, serving since 2019. He was recently named to the 2024 CoSN Volunteer Hall of Fame and in 2023 he was named one of the Top 100 Influencers in EdTech by EdTech Digest. He holds a B.S. from Tarleton State University, a M.S. in Educational Management from the University of Houston – Clear Lake and a Doctorate of Philosophy in Educational Administration from Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas.


Curt Merlau [00:00:02]:
Why is data so often used as a gotcha, especially in education? As a former teacher, administrator and now consultant, it's a question that I ask myself all the time, which is why we're here. I'm Doctor Curt, and this is my takeover of Data-Driven Leadership. In this four-episode miniseries, I'll be joined by several industry experts who have made it their mission to hunt, seek, and destroy the systemic barriers to learning. Through it and data, we'll share how it and data can not only meet unmet needs, but can actually accelerate opportunities when done the right way. In my role, I work with many state education leaders across the country, which in turn exposes me to a wide variety of new and exciting strategies. I look forward to bringing you these amazing leaders to share those strategies with you. Let's bring people, policy and technology together so that data can be our greatest ally. Let’s dive in.

Curt Merlau [00:01:02]:
From our next guest in the miniseries, we get to hear from Doctor Chad Stevens. And I really enjoyed this conversation, given Chad's background as a former teacher, administrator, and now chief strategy and marketing officer for ParentSquare. ParentSquare is an innovative application that connects families with educators. And if you're a parent of a child, you know how critical that connection is with educators. Chad describes his experience growing up through the education industry to the position where he is at today, and some of the really innovative things that are happening at ParentSquare, and the importance of interoperability and connecting applications like ParentSquare to other forms of data to make that experience seamless and to give both educators and parents information they need just in the right time. I know that you'll really enjoy today's conversation and take away something, and I hope that you stay tuned for more. Chad, so excited to have you on today. Welcome.

Chad Stevens [00:02:09]:
Yeah, thanks for having me, Curt. I'm excited to dive in.

Curt Merlau [00:02:13]:
Likewise, likewise. I was actually just using ParentSquare to communicate with some of my kids’ teachers, so this is super relevant, but have long been a big fan of the application myself as a teacher, have used it in the past, and just in talking with you several weeks ago, just was really energized around the conversation. So, I'm excited for our listeners to join in today. Before we get too far, Chad, would you mind just telling us a little bit about your background? And I think folks would be really interested to hear, uh, how you got to be where you are today and. And, of course, provide a little context on exactly what ParentSquare is if we are not, uh, familiar with it.

Chad Stevens [00:03:00]:
Awesome. Well, it's awesome you're a user and and I'm glad it's working out for you. Um, yeah, I'm Doctor Chad Stevens. I'm like. Like you said, I'm the chief strategy and marketing officer at ParentSquare. I'll try to give you the Cliff Notes version. My background, because a little bit of a long and winding road, but I started off as a teacher in Clear Creek ISD, near Houston, near NASA.

Chad Stevens [00:03:24]:
Kind of got into administration, ended up having an awesome 14-year career that ended in a role as a chief technology officer. Kind of got into technology late. I was planning on being a school superintendent. I really didn't have. You know, I loved using technology and as a principal, and I loved it when my teachers did it, but wasn't really aspirational to be a CTO, but that's kind of how it happened. And after those 14 years, I had a chance to go into private sector, first as a consultant, and then kind of moved right into strategy roles with CWG, where I was their first education strategist. And then lucky enough to go to Amazon Web Services, where I was really the inaugural employee of the cloud business there, which I really deeper in interoperability and data. And then three years ago, came to this little company called ParentsSquare that now serves almost 40% of families in the United States.

Curt Merlau [00:04:29]:

Chad Stevens [00:04:30]:
It didn't end, but it's been really awesome to see just how people have embraced family engagement and what it can mean for student success. So, really glad to be here, and I'll just leave it at that, and we'll kind of get into it and see what else we learned.

Curt Merlau [00:04:47]:
Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. Well, you know, I'll contain my enthusiasm for your application here, but I do want to say, and I really do believe this, that ParentSquare, a platform that facilitates this communication between families and students, really is like that critical, critical link. When we talk about interoperability and data for decision-making, if there's not a connection to bring families into the picture and into the conversation, like such a missed opportunity. And as for me, in my family, we view our child's teacher as extension of our family. And so it's such a critical link. Do you mind just touching a little bit around just exactly the aim, what parents were really seeking to accomplish, and just any thoughts or reactions you have to, you know, my perspective of that being a critical link to this. This data interoperability topic we talked about so much.

Chad Stevens [00:05:45]:
Yeah, I mean, I think the focus all along has been, you know, on student success, but knowing that when families are engaged, students do better in school, and it really started off that simple. You know, our founder, Anuvaya, and her husband, Sohad, were parents that saw this need and started to work on it 13 years ago. And it's kind of grown to this point. So the tool, the way. The way I think about the tool is, it's really across all the facets of being a parent. Right. It's all the school services and all the things that, the permission slips and newsletters and the whole idea is that if we can make things very easy for parents, then they'll be more engaged. And we all know that we live in this society of, like, information overload.

Chad Stevens [00:06:36]:
And, you know, I can speak for my students’ school district, where there's a lot of different tools, and it's a great school district, but, like, it's hard to find exactly what you're looking for between baseball and football and academics and the different apps that we have. So, you know, our goal is really to, to really get that into one place and always say, like, communicating with your kids’ teacher should be as easy as, like, buying a cup of coffee. And now with things like virtual phone and things like that, we make it really simple and easy, and we think that's good for kids. So there's a lot to it. We could probably spend the whole 30 minutes just talking about what parents could do as a tool.

Curt Merlau [00:07:17]:
We could no doubt talk about, no.

Chad Stevens [00:07:19]:
Doubt, data driven leadership. So.

Curt Merlau [00:07:23]:
Yeah. Yeah. Well, I appreciate that very much. So let's zoom out a little bit. And across your career, through your various roles in education institutions and EdTech companies, what have been some of the prominent challenges in promoting data interoperability? And I want your definition of interoperability, because that word is like a big SAT word. Break down that word interoperability, but then provide us your perspective on what's been some prominent challenges, for sure.

Chad Stevens [00:08:03]:
Yeah, it's definitely a. It's a big word. You know, I think it's interesting, like, in my role as CTO, you know, it was really more about data than data interoperability. So, like, I think most organizations like Ed-Fi or one EdTech, started around 2010, 2011, somewhere in that range, like, as a. As a beginning. And so I kind of lived the world where we really saw the need. Right. My main concern was getting data in one place.

Chad Stevens [00:08:33]:
Like, we did one of the first data warehouses to date in Clear Creek. And it was a huge challenge because it was really about data flow and data systems, and it was really one of the most expensive things we did to make it right. And so when I think about a definition. It's really about, for me, getting data to a place where we can get the right information. I used to tell the team at Clear Creek, we could be data rich. In fact, school districts are very data rich, right? Probably more data than we know what to do with, maybe more than we want when it comes to standardized testing things. But. But a lot of times we're information poor.

Chad Stevens [00:09:19]:
We're not actually getting information from the data. So that was kind of my thing. And so, you know, when it comes to EdTechs, you know, thinking about it from the EdTech lens now and not the school lens, you know, there's a cost, there's an ROI on making it easier for our customers to have interoperability. And there's some companies that have kind of have to make a hard decision to deliberately give you less choice. Like, you need to have your data in this way. At ParentSquare we were designed for K-12, and we're in all 50 states now, so we have a lot of options for integration and then the ability to do these data quality checks so that we don't have duplicate data. And I think one of the unique things going back to that our application is, parent data is not always indexed in the student information system. And so we took this kind of piece of data that kind of had some challenges, but now having cleaner parent data leads to better contact ability, which leads to better student achievement.

Chad Stevens [00:10:25]:
And I think, you know, I mean, I can name all the research studies. Journal of Education research level of parent school involvements, better predictor of grades and standardized test scores. Harvard. Parent involvement associated with higher student achievement. Columbia. Family involvements, strong individuals. Like, there's like 50 years of this, right? But we really haven't, for the most part, like, spent a ton of time on or really money on that, right? Like, we spent more money on standardized tests than maybe helping, you know, parents like you be more engaged.

Chad Stevens [00:10:57]:
And so I think, yeah, that's the kind of way I think about interoperability when it comes to family engagement in the parent space. I think we're kind of at the tip of the iceberg in connecting that engagement data, you know, into school data to see what's going on with attendance and absenteeism and all those things. So that's kind of the way I look at it.

Curt Merlau [00:11:19]:
Couldn't agree with you more just how critical it is to have that family engagement. And it's. Sometimes we just have to chuckle. And education things come back around in cycles and something that was so common knowledge, so almost common sense gets so complicated and gets lost in the shuffle. And as our lives become more complicated, so does our data. And we have to kind of come back to getting that data out and usable. And you were talking about a little bit about the vendor community. And that's one of the things with this interoperability movement, especially Ed-Fi, that I've really appreciated is how EdTech vendors have come together and said, this is important and we should make this accessible and usable.

Curt Merlau [00:12:07]:
And so I'm encouraged to see organizations like yours leading that charge.

So I'm curious now, reflecting on your experience specifically, how did you collaborate with educators, administrators to bridge the gap between technology and instruction? And here's why I asked that, Chad, because when I talk to district folks, I keep hearing the dichotomy that exists between the IT department and curriculum and instruction. And there's like this invisible wall that they seem to describe. How did you break through that? And what insights did you gain from, from once that wall was broken down?

Chad Stevens [00:12:59]:
Yeah, I mean, I love this question because I think, you know, when I came into being a tech leader in a school district, it was around 2007, and really things were pretty separate. I think Clear Creek had moved me under instruction, which was in 2007, was super innovative. I mean, one reason why I was coming from principal into the role, but I think it really changed things. I think that's one simple thing you can do is understand the reporting structure and get technology out of operations, although there's a ton of operations to it in a large school district. I like this question, and I think we've made a lot of progress. I've written many a blog about this over the years, and I think it all comes down to just finding common ground. You know, one of the things I used to do is I would come into a meeting and I did something as simple as I drew a stick figure of this, and I'm not an artist, so I called it the generic kid, and I'd put it on the whiteboard when we'd be in technology meetings. And keep in mind, I was coming into the role as a principal.

Chad Stevens [00:14:14]:
And really the idea was there was like, well, is this good for kids? Is this, you know, it sounds so simple, but I think we have a tendency to forget, you know, what is the focus? You know, what is the focus of the school? And, you know, obviously, security is critical, privacy is critical. Like, we want everything to work, but at the end of the day, you know, we're there to support learners and, you know, you know, EdTech's moving so fast sometimes it's really hard for the IT team to keep up, too. So you have to have empathy, right? So think about the IT team coming in and, um, you know, I used to joke, like, the worst day of the year was the day after the EdTech conference, right, where they came back and told me all the silver bullets, we're going to change our life forever. And, you know, make all.

Curt Merlau [00:15:11]:
Yeah. The shiny widgets that they came home with. Yeah.

Chad Stevens [00:15:14]:
And funny. Now I work for one of those, so, you know, where. You know, but the thing is, is think about something like AI, right now, for a tech worker in a school. That's a lot, like, there's a lot of movement for them going on. So you can't forget that you're like a learning organization. And I think the other part is like, like, listen to the students. You know, I had, I had a group that I called STACT. It was the Student Advisory Council for Technology, and it was just a group of, like, eight students that were in high school that I met with on a, like a couple times a semester. And I'll tell you that you will rarely get a more honest answer about how your technologies work than from, you know, a 16 to 18 year old.

Chad Stevens [00:16:04]:
So I think, you know, I think those are a couple things you have to do, but, you know, I honestly think the schools are doing a lot better job here, and you see less walls and you. And I think people understand. But sometimes you have to, you know, you do have to think about it.

Curt Merlau [00:16:19]:
Yeah, no, that's really great to hear. And you're so right about bringing it back down to the student level, right? Again, we. . .I say we, you know, those of us in, in these spaces and consultants are especially victim to this, is we get so kind of caught up in the clouds or.

Chad Stevens [00:16:36]:

Curt Merlau [00:16:36]:
Um, too high above the ground. Yeah. And to really make data and technology work, you gotta bring it back. And so I love the word empathy in there as well. So I appreciate you mentioning that.

So let's talk a little bit more around the why behind data interoperability and why is it so crucial? How does it impact education communities? What are those implications? And I'm curious even how ParentSquare is helping achieve that vision of democratized data, I guess, is another way you could put it.

Chad Stevens [00:17:14]:
Well, I think. I mean, you know, we were just talking about AI in the last question, and, you know, some of the challenges that it brings to schools, but also some of the opportunities. And when you think about AI in general, you know, you have to have. Like, data is fundamental to make AI function effectively. It's like the raw material that the AI system needs to learn, understand patterns, make decisions, improve over time, and how accurate, reliable, comprehensive that dataset is makes it better. So this isn't going away at all. I think when this first happened, I was actually really encouraged to sit on the board of Cos and I joined some innovative superintendent groups.

Chad Stevens [00:18:03]:
I felt like AI was one of the first tools that really was embracing it. Wasn't your super tents kind of embraced it early, even to some extent, maybe before, maybe a little too soon, as you think from a privacy aspect, but I thought it was like a good thing to see. But I think having clean data is only going to make that better. So, I mean, ParentSquare, you know, I think the way I think about it is, you know, data has kind of always been part of ParentsSquare's DNA. Like the, you know, so from the very beginning of ParentSquare 13 years ago, one of the first features it had was a data dashboard. Think about that. Like, that's that, you know, I think that's one of the things that you kind of, like, you as a parent, see all the outward facing things. What you don't always see is behind the scenes, what that brings.

Chad Stevens [00:19:00]:
And as the pressure mounts to maintain students, competition for students, to increase attendance, you know, I see a lot of schools focusing on things like their brand, which is important. But how good is your brand if you don't know who you're reaching and if you can't reach the hardest to reach families? And there's a lot of tools that require parents to download an app and really don't provide these dashboards to measure the engagement. And so I think that's our point of view, is have the data, but let's make sure that everybody's contactable. I think we spend a lot of time communicating, but inspecting the data to see who's actually getting it, who's actually reading it, who's actually appreciating it. And maybe the most important thing, how are we reaching, like the last 10% of families that aren't getting communication? Like, that's what's exciting for me. You know, we have hundreds of schools that have 100% contact ability of their parents. Like, wow, it's really like, almost feels out of reach, but it's really cool that we have that now.

Chad Stevens [00:20:09]:
You know, I have schools reaching that and thousands with 95%. Right. And what's really cool is when I go around the country and speak to, you know, tech leaders, public relations offices. One of the questions I ask a lot of our parents who are customers is, how many families can you not reach? And most of them know their number, which is, which means they're, they're honing in on. I know I'm getting 95%, but what can I do for these 5%? I think that's what really clean, good data does for you. So in terms of interoperability.

Curt Merlau [00:20:44]:
I love that because we have said on this show so many times, the power of data is not the data itself or the dashboard. It's in the conversations that happened around the data or because of the data. You use the word inspect. I've used the word getting curious about the data. I love inspecting the data. That's a good transition to something I'm curious for you to share with us, which is your definition of data-driven leadership. As someone who has held leadership positions in private sector, EdTech company, and in schools. Yeah, yeah.

Chad Stevens [00:21:28]:
I look at it two ways. Like I look at is like there's data driven and then there's kind of like data, data informed. For example, when you look at something like go to market data for sales, that's a great data-driven point, right? Things like annual recurring revenue, pretty, you know, it's pretty, pretty straightforward number that you can get. But I think in EdTech and in school, sometimes you also have to trust your gut. So I kind of call this, you know, data-informed. You know, kind of the ability to make high quality decisions with, with kind of like sound judgment, intuition when you don't have all the data. And I think, you know, that's what I think about, you know, kind of speed matters in your decision making, especially the EdTech when you're making these decisions. So, you know, you're, it's kind of 80/20, you're not going to have everything is way I think about it.

Chad Stevens [00:22:24]:
So I think, but data is important. You know, like one of my favorite quotes from Deming is without data, you're just another person with an opinion. So like you, you gotta have something to land on. So like in my current role, I think like one of the things I'm responsible for is ParentSquare’s events. You know, we attend a lot of events. We have an amazing team supporting events. We know that a lot of leads come from events. We also know there's a cost.

Chad Stevens [00:22:52]:
So we have to also look at, you know, all the qualitative things like does this play, does this feel right? And do we need more time to get into their community? It's not just ROI sometimes. So I think a lot of times, you know, EdTech and educational leadership is like part arts, part science. So, you know, everybody always used to say, like, well, you can't run a school like a business. And, you know, because we're not making widgets, right? We have kids, and kids got variables. Well, guess what? There's a lot of variables, you know, in EdTech that's growing as fast as ours, too. But. So you should, but you should have, no doubt data to make your decisions. So that's kind of my point of view on it.

Curt Merlau [00:23:34]:
You bring up a great point because people's experiences and their professional opinions are data points.

Chad Stevens [00:23:40]:
Yeah, absolutely. Yeah.

Curt Merlau [00:23:42]:
And, yeah, so what I hear you say is you kind of have to hold both and make some discerning decisions from it.

Chad Stevens [00:23:49]:
Yeah. And you can take it, although complicated, and I don't want to get into, like, statistics and have any flashbacks from my PhD, but you can take qualitative data and make it into quantitative things. So, like, in that, you know, like in that event scenario, you know, one of the things you look at qualitatively is where's our booth? You know, I mean, it sounds simple, but is it in the dark corner or is it in the front? Like, you know, it's. It's kind of like little things like that. And I think you have to build. You really take all those in when you're making data-driven decision making. And, you know, I talked about it, but I think speed is just a really big deal. So I think that's just something that I think is really important.

Curt Merlau [00:24:33]:
Well, on that, on speed, how do you balance innovation with the need for stability and continuity in educational practice? I just remember when I was a teacher, it was like every time I turned around, it was like, there's a new, there's a new thing, there's a new feature, there's a new curriculum. How do you, how do you do that?

Chad Stevens [00:24:51]:
Man, that's a good one. You know, I think, yeah, I think you have to. So one of the really fundamental things that I think I've gotten better at as I've gotten more into my career, is understanding that most decisions are reversible. And, you know, when you're in a school district and you're a CTO, it sure doesn't feel like that, right? So you're making a decision, you're gotta go to the school board. You may be planning this for two or three months, right. It may take a really long time to even buy something like ParentSquare.

Chad Stevens [00:25:26]:
But the reality is, is it's reversible. It may be painful, but it's reversible. And so having that kind of mindset allows you to take a little bit more risk. It's a little easier for. In a company, for sure. But I think a lot of times, schools kind of struggle with this idea of abandoning something that's not working. And as you. As you know, you have to be humble enough as a leader to say, yeah, I messed up, and that didn't work, and we're going to switch it quickly.

Chad Stevens [00:25:54]:
And that could be anything from something as difficult as a hiring decision to as simple as the way we're going to do our weekly reports. I think if the team's looking at you like, that's a dumb idea, then the idea is like, well, don't just fall on your sword. Well, this is my idea. So we're just going to kind of keep ramming into the brick wall. Okay, well.

Curt Merlau [00:26:13]:
Or try to save face and just keep. Keep up appearances and keep going along. Yeah. So powerful.

Chad Stevens [00:26:20]:
Yeah, there's a lot of that. And, you know, I used. I haven't been in schools in a long time, but I used to see a lot of that, like, well, this is my, like that kind of my program or something, and you want to keep alive, and everybody has an ego, but I think you really have to be willing to kind of get away from those things quickly.

Curt Merlau [00:26:37]:

Chad Stevens [00:26:38]:
You need to.

Curt Merlau [00:26:39]:
Well, what you said was just powerful for me. It just like, oh, my gosh, I love that. Just give yourself permission to reset to undo it, and it's not too far gone. And I think going back to my educator days, because the work that we do is so impactful, right? They're so passionate about it. It can be really hard to say, you know what? I didn't make a great decision that didn't turn out well because you feel like you failed yourself. But your kids, most importantly in your families and your school, it just piles on.

Curt Merlau [00:27:17]:
And so I think if more folks in any type of organization could hear you have permission to undo a decision, wow, we would all probably be a little less stressed.

Chad Stevens [00:27:32]:
And think about it, like, from my days as a teacher. Right, your days as a teacher. Like, how many days in. In 180 something day school year, did you follow your lesson plans exactly. Mine was like zero. Right?

Curt Merlau [00:27:44]:
Like, tossed out the window.

Chad Stevens [00:27:45]:
Teachers are making decisions constantly, so it feels really rigid. But you're constantly going, well, that didn't work because that kid, you know, the light bulb did not open that kid's eyes. So I got to teach this differently. And I think the same thing when you're working with your team and you're trying to make fast decisions and kind of grow your company.

Curt Merlau [00:28:04]:
Yeah. I'm going to move on to our last question, but I will want to just say something here, is that if anyone wants to see an example of data-driven leadership, go watch a classroom teacher work for an hour. Because the amount of decisions you just highlighted, it just constantly processing data and making decisions on the fly, man, I tell you, you know, I talk with teachers a lot who are curious about other opportunities outside the classroom. And for whatever reason, I hear a lot of times, well, I don't have those skills or, well, I've just been a teacher and I'm like, are you kidding me? The amount of grit and work and analysis and decision making you do on a day basis, that is like gold out on the market. Right. But that could be a whole other podcast. Yeah, that could be anyone listening out there. Yeah.

Curt Merlau [00:28:53]:
Hire former educators. But Chad, what I wanna kind of leave with here are, what are your looking to the crystal ball? Like, what do you see for the future of educational technology?

Chad Stevens [00:29:05]:
Oh, man. I think it's interesting, right? So my first year of teaching was like 1996, so to date myself. That was the year that President Clinton talked about the education superhighway in the State of the Union. And I think it's kind of serendipitously, my career has kind of followed EdTech from seeing like, you know, I remember when the first labs went to the schools and things like that and until now, and we talked about like, AI. And I think there's a, I think you could spend a lot of time trying to predict the evolution of EdTech, but in my mind, you just have to know that there's always going to be like the next thing. And one of my favorite kind of authors, if you will, Seymour Pepper, who a lot of people say, like the father of EdTech, if you haven't looked him up, he had a quote that said something like, nothing could be more absurd than an experiment replaced in the classroom, where we just put EdTech in the classroom, but nothing else changed. Or a computer in the classroom and nothing else changed. I think you have to remember that the most impactful thing we can do for students, even with all these news tools around us, is what we just said is like, have great teachers and we have to teach the teachers, you know, how to use some of these tools.

Chad Stevens [00:30:32]:
But, like, tools are going to come and go. And for 30 years I've been watching tools come and go out of the classroom. Um, and ironically, you know, schools tend to, you know, to, um, respond to them similarly. Although I do. I do think we're, you know, some schools are embracing AI a little bit more, but, you know, it's usually like, whoa, wait a minute. You're like, we can't. I mean, for me, I'll really date myself. We can't have YouTube in a classroom.

Chad Stevens [00:31:03]:
Whoa, wait. We gotta block that, right? So, you know, like, I think, yeah, you know, we can't let kids have cell phones. Like, don't get me wrong, iPads or. Yeah, cell phones in the classroom, that's a big debate. But I just think that there's always gonna be these things, so we just have to always stay focused on why schools exist is learning. And if you don't really listen to your customers, which I think is a real key to, you know, to growing, you know, that that's really where you gotta be, is, you know, getting back to our conversation on data. Data is the currency for the customers. And so you as a company, if you're not willing to invest in helping them understand the complexities of that data and work backwards to kind of get what.

Chad Stevens [00:31:48]:
What they need to meet their needs, then you're not going to be in business very long.

Curt Merlau [00:31:53]:

Chad Stevens [00:31:53]:
So I think that's. That's the way I look at it. So no big revelations other than, you know, there will be another shiny thing that we have to deal with. Stay focused on the kids and, you know, that generic kid, and we'll be good.

Curt Merlau [00:32:06]:
I think that's. Well said. Well said. Thank you, Chad. Really appreciate your time.

Chad Stevens [00:32:10]:
Yeah, absolutely.

Curt Merlau [00:32:13]:
Thank you for joining us on this episode of the Education miniseries. I'm Doctor Curt, your host. Be sure to follow Data-Driven Leadership on your preferred podcast platform. And don't forget to rate and review and share how the these discussions on education data are making a positive impact in your organization. Stay tuned for our next episode, where we'll continue our exploration with more education experts.

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