“Let the teachers teach” – Salesforce for teachers

Technology can help teachers so that the majority of their time and effort is spent where it has the biggest impact: engaging with students.

The education sector in Finland has encountered shifting demands time and again – during the past 50 years, there have been several takes on what, why, and how students should learn. The speed and scale of change have been unforeseen in recent years due to shifting policy, renewed curriculum, decreasing funding, and the pandemic.

Amid the turbulence, it is easy to forget that no target in the education sector can be reached without the commitment of teachers to the task ahead. Finland has been proud of its highly educated and engaged teachers, but still, I find that they haven’t always been heard when making decisions that transform their everyday job and the field at large. In the long run, this can accelerate feelings of discontent and lead to a situation where employee turnover and voluntary attrition rates become higher, even though there is a natural calling to the profession.

I think that the education sector and society can not afford to lose qualified teachers. Quality education is and should be valued more than ever. So as a former teacher and present-day Salesforce consultant, I was curious to find out what kind of solutions Salesforce, specifically Education Cloud, could offer to enhance the teachers’ employee experience during rapid change.

Let the teachers teach

For me, the starting point should be how technology can help teachers so that the majority of their time and effort is spent where it has the most significant impact: engaging with the students. Every teacher I have ever met loves the actual teaching job and interacting with students, which is why they wanted to become teachers in the first place.

Unfortunately, teachers can feel overwhelmed with other non-teaching-related tasks, an ever-growing aspect of the profession. Much of the teacher’s time is spent preparing for meetings, documentation, or performing repetitive statistical tasks. Work that is valuable and needs to be done but could be done more effectively with Salesforce tools.

Gain a holistic view of students

Salesforce Education Cloud promises a 360-degree view of student data, and I think this alone would allow the teacher to have the much-needed holistic view of students. They could see the overall picture of the student’s situation with one look: absences, test scores, and recent communication with parents.

This dashboard-like view would make an excellent starting point for different meetings. For example, preparation for evaluation discussions or parent-teacher conferences would no longer mean they have to gather data from various sources and persons. Like in business, silos in schools can block vital information so that the numerous adults around the same child are not aligned and aware of each other’s perceptions or actions. This situation can translate to the student and parents as confusing and hard to follow.

Utilise shared knowledge

Documentation is another task that takes much time away from teaching. For example, in Finnish schools, teachers are obliged to fill in several forms, some of them multiple times per school year, if their students need extra support in order to achieve in school. After introducing inclusive policies in the Finnish primary education field, these tasks with related meetings can take considerable time.

With Salesforce’s Education Cloud, the teacher could have a vast knowledge base in the same system to help fill in the different forms. In an ideal situation, it would also tell the teacher what kind of local and/or state-level regulations there are when applying for more support. At the moment, this knowledge may be behind complex intranet archives or even one person with limited time, like the school’s special education teacher.

Connect different teams with automation

Lastly, I can see that simple automation could help teachers a long way. Because of the budget cutbacks, teachers often wear multiple hats during the school day, performing the tasks of a janitor, nurse, social worker and police. Automated integration of a multi-professional team would help the teachers feel that they are not left alone and, on the contrary, have shared responsibility. This would also make the school policies transparent and unified.

For example, teachers are obliged to follow student absences; if a specific hour limit is exceeded, the teacher should contact the school’s social worker or nurse. With automated process notification, the information regarding students’ absences could be sent directly to the needed parties. This functionality could also be helpful in respect of undone assignments or severe behavioural issues.

All of the above are very basic Salesforce and Education Cloud capabilities. Listing them made me wonder, why are these not in use already? Education providers invest a lot of money in IT systems, but somehow the perspective and needs of the actual user are too seldom heard. Teachers with a constantly growing workload could greatly benefit from modern IT solutions if excellent employee experience – and hence excellent student experience – were considered a target. And with Salesforce tools, that target could easily be met.

Elina Pöykkö

Business Consultant

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