I happened across a great (albeit non-Webster’s) definition of “entrepreneur” from the Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center website today:

noun en.tre.pre.neur

  1. Someone who’s willing to sacrifice sleep, sanity, and savings to grow an idea – because that’s just how they’re wired.
  2. A dreamer, problem-solver, doer, and risk-taker. See also: Decision-maker, coffee-maker, and multi-tasker.

It immediately struck me that this is what teachers do!  They make dramatic life sacrifices to grow learners, because that’s just how they’re wired.  This is what attracts them to the profession.

They dream about what students can accomplish.  They think up new ideas and ways to solve learning problems. They take risks in trying new approaches that may or may not work. They’re decision makers, and they have to drink a lot of coffee to maintain their hectic pace, teaching from 20 to 120 or more students per day.

They can’t do the job without being able to multitask.  They must balance myriad activities and demands on their attention to keep their students on track and their lesson plans moving forward.  The average teacher makes 1,500 decisions per day—more than four each minute in an average day (Teacher Vision)!

These creative problem-solvers are pioneering entrepreneurs who use any and every innovation they can find to change the face of education, today and into the future.  They are devising new and creative ways to engage students, and they are thinking outside the box to tackle any obstacles that prevent learning.  They seek out resources that can help, including technologies that put new learning models into practice.

When faced with a dramatic math crisis, the leaders of Fresno and Long Beach school districts in California needed to find better ways to connect their teachers to improve math education.  They didn’t have the budget or time to hire or train new teachers, so they used video to collaborate with other districts across their region and the state.  They used technology to share best practices, learn from one another, and address the problem in days and weeks vs. months and years.  As a result, they have dramatically improved scores in both math and reading.

Teachers at Woodland Elementary School used web conferencing to connect with their student, Peyton, while she was undergoing cancer treatment.  Realizing how powerful and engaging this experience was—both for Peyton and for the students in the classroom—they used the same technology to bring outside experts into their classrooms to guide their students through virtual field trips and spark their imaginations with special talks and activities.

Educators and technology leaders at Mill Neck Manor School for the Deaf on Long Island wanted to improve staff collaboration and create new experiences for their students alongside hearing students. They eliminated barriers by using video collaboration, which equipped deaf and hearing students from different schools to engage and interact seamlessly and more easily.  At first, they thought they just needed a phone upgrade, but they soon realized the power of video to support sign language and decrease feelings of isolation.

Now, more and more teachers are engaging in the Cisco Connected Educator Program to connect with other teachers across the country and globe to learn from their peers and earn badges that recognize their innovative use of collaboration technologies in their classes.  This program supports their entrepreneurial spirit.

Webster’s isn’t far off in their definition of an entrepreneur, which they say had taken on the connotation of a “go-getter” by the early 20th century.  Is this not the definition of our many great teachers? Are they not forging new frontiers by finding innovative and better ways to help students reach their potential through the purposeful use of resources, including transformative technology?

Learn more about all of Cisco’s solutions for education here.  Then, see how entrepreneurial educators are putting possibility into action during ISTE 2019. Join us at booth 2122.


Renee Patton

Former Global Director of Education and Healthcare

Global Industry Solutions Group