Car Salesmen and Teachers

We both know what it’s like to sell something to someone who may not be interested. We use catchy hooks, flash, we hang posters and images to set a mood, and ask a lot of questions. I think both positions like to believe we know what our clients are thinking.

As my husband and I spent two entire days shopping for a new car, I kept finding myself comparing the sales tactics used by the dealers to my own teaching profession. Alarming, I realize, based on the typical stereotypes of a car salesperson, but there are some undeniable overlaps as mentioned above. So, then another one of my streams of consciousness began in my brain defending my career. Ridiculous perhaps, but this is what happened.

While working out the numbers of our deal, the dealer returned to us and referred to some mysterious “wholesaler.” This individual apparently was deciding how much we would get for our trade. To this my brain thought, well at least teachers use data to make decisions about their classrooms. We proudly share this data with those who ask, because we know this data has helped us make the best decision for our students. So, if the dealer was using data or statistics to make an offer on our trade, why wouldn’t he want to share that with us? Is there a need for a smoke screen?

Then we were asked to fill out a survey regarding our experience with the company (which was very pleasant, I had no real complaints). In conversation, we found out that anything other than a perfect score was considered a fail by the company and reflected directly on the salespeople. No place on the form did it ask for commentary on our ratings. The survey seemed like a waste of time, because it became clear how completely arbitrary it was. It was obvious that no one intended to learn anything from the information I was providing. As an educator, I thrive on critical feedback. I am confident I would not be the teacher I am today if I did not have the opportunity to work for, and with, extremely honest individuals. Again, the survey seemed like a smoke screen. The company wanted to appear as if they cared what their customers thought, and they wanted a reason not to pay bonuses to their salespeople.

I feel fortunate to work in a district that strives to be transparent with our community. As a classroom teacher, transparency and clear communication definitely attributed to my success building relationships with my families.

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