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How a Web Dating Adventure Inspired an Education Movement

Mission and culture fit are key to a teacher's satisfaction and school performance. Online dating helps figure out if there's a match.

Every year over half a million public and private school teachers leave their classroom. In fact, one out of two new teachers will quit teaching before they reach their fifth year in the classroom. This is a costly problem in terms of time, money, and impact on kids. What may come as a surprise is the cause of high turnover in education. Unlike the common notion that attrition is driven by low pay or classroom issues, it's actually dissatisfaction with working conditions.

Having spent my career in education—as an elementary school teacher, adjunct professor, school board member, and most recently as an executive director of a Teach For America regional site—I have seen first hand the value of putting the right teacher in the right classroom (and the adverse impacts of the wrong teacher in the wrong school.) Numerous studies show mission and culture fit are key to a teacher's satisfaction and school performance. But despite the evidence that fit matters, there is no easy or systematic way for teachers to find a school that's a good fit.

That is, until late one late night when my own adventures in online dating sparked an idea. As I sifted through profiles, I began to wonder, if online dating can help bring together compatible couples, could the same concept work to bring together high-fit teachers and schools?

When you think about it, the idea behind online dating is actually genius. It helps bring you together with someone you might never have found otherwise, matches you based on degrees of compatibility, gives you the information you want on the front end—so you can skip some of the painfully awkward first dates—and makes the whole process more effective for busy people.

My experience in online dating helped me fundamentally change how I view education, and ultimately, led me to launch myEDmatch, a radical new platform that matches teachers with schools that share similar goals and beliefs about education. The beliefs-based algorithm suggests matches, making the process more cost-effective and efficient for schools to market to a national pool of teachers. At the same time, this tool empowers teachers, helping each candidate better showcase passions and skills as an educator beyond a resume and cover letter. Matches can be filtered by educator preferences and background in more than 20 ways to ensure fit in ways that simply don’t exist anywhere else when it comes to job search.

We launched our beta site less than a month ago and have already signed up over 100 schools in 16 states. Thousands of teachers have already created profiles in hopes of finding a suitable match. The interest is due to something educators intuitively know: better matches lead to greater educator satisfaction, lower teacher turnover, and ultimately, better outcomes for students.

Inspiration comes from many places. For some, it is singing in the shower or walking in the woods. For me it was my attempt to make my parents happy and make a match on an online dating site.

The punch line? We all know great teachers. We know they got into the profession to make an impact. Let's make it easier for them to do just that.

Click here to add connecting teachers and schools to myEdMatch to your GOOD "to-do" list.

Job applicant having an interview in the office photo via Shutterstock

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