11/14/17 | Founders

I Started a Company to Stop the Game of Telephone in Tutoring

I know this firsthand.

A tutor can be transformational to a student’s life. I learned this firsthand when I was 8. Every time I was asked to read out loud in front of that class, I grew anxious and my stomach turned to knots. I remember this feeling as if it was yesterday. Later that year, I learned I had dyslexia—a diagnosis that finally explained my constant angst around reading and spelling.

Thankfully, my family found a tutor for me who specialized in working with children with dyslexia and I’m proud to say that I overcame it. So much so that by the end of third grade, I won the Young Author’s Fair, which to a then-aspiring writer, was a dream come true. A personalized learning plan made all the difference to me.

My mom, a teacher herself, made it happen because that’s how the cycle works. A teacher tells parents that he or or she concerned about your child’s ability around X and suggests you get the student extra help; the parents, often in a panic, find a tutor, tell the tutor what the child needs; the student works with the tutor, who may or may not have a similar teaching style and philosophy as the classroom teacher; and finally everyone crosses their fingers that the child is making the right progress.

The old-fashioned method of communication between a family, a teacher, and a child’s tutor is inefficient and risky.

It’s like a massive game of telephone, but the stakes are infinitely higher here. This is about improving children’s education, easing learning challenges, and eliminating added emotional stress, which is at an all-time high among families. A tutor can be the difference between academic success and failure for a child. And when tutors are set up with the right resources, the results are outstanding.

This is where technology and my company come in.

Imagine the potential when a tutor is integrated into the child’s classroom experience, such that a child’s tutoring work closely mirrors the classroom work, and communication between tutors, teachers, and parents is seamless and easy.

This is what we’ve built at Clark—technology that will open these lines of communication and create a more collaborative education system. Clark’s software for tutorsTechnology eliminates the middle-man, the parents, to be the back-and-forth communicator. It takes away the burden of sending update emails for classroom teachers, who already have a ton of their plate. Technology stops a poorly translated game of telephone.

Now is a time of rapid tech innovation in the education space. From hardware like Smart Boards to software like Google Classroom and a myriad of online programs like Reflex math, teachers are welcoming and excited to work with technology to better facilitate learning—especially when it can help children at every level. Because that is one of the biggest challenges for a teacher: How can you support different minds on different paths? In the end, we all climb the mountain, but some of us take longer to get to the top.

“OK, fine, but how do I use it?” teachers ask.

In my experience, teachers embrace technology to the extent that they’re introduced to it and that it’s easy to use.  And honestly, most ed tech products aren’t. They’re clunky and inaccessible without significant license fees that require budgetary sign-offs. The best UI experiences are reserved for consumer products, not educational tools. Unfortunately, it’s the students who suffer in that many of these products could be beneficial to classroom learning. We need to work harder to improve education tech so it can stretch beyond the classroom. When technology is done right, everyone succeeds: Schools, teacher, students.

About the Author

Megan O’Connor, the CEO and Co-Founder of Clark, a revolutionary tool for tutors that functions as a virtual assistant offering automated scheduling, payment solutions, and progress reports for students and their parents.



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