Thursday, July 26, 2007

Every Industry Has One Thing in Common: the Teachers' Lounge

I read many forum and blog postings such as Asterisk-Biz list like many of you do. I note where there is a huge deficit of women and people from third world and developing nations, and often when they do "post," they are either ignored or emotionally whipped by responses. No problem, hang in there!

It reminds me of the Teachers' Lounge and a little tiny school in Century, Florida. I worked as a teacher of English, Gifted Studies, Internet Research, and Introduction to Foreign Languages from 1987 to 2002 at George Washington Carver Middle School. (I was moonlighting my work with Super Technologies from 1995 - 1999 unofficially and incorporated after that.)

Back to the Teacher's Lounge, I put to work the concept of peer teaching when I had to take on daily morning news closed caption, the school website, the yearbook, and the school newspaper. I didn't mind. It was fun to watch the kids who might not be able to speak or write even one grammatically correct sentence teach other kids how to set up a teleprompter. We couldn't get another teacher to oversee these projects. I didn't mind. I learned so much at the time of need, more than I would have with another degree to add to the 3 that I have.

Then, the principal said, "Suzanne, we need some money. Write some grants." So, I did. And I actually cared about it. I was shocked when I got around 3 million USD over a period of 8 years for projects that helped with such things as Internet Literacy, the 3 R's, Science in English, and so on. I always enjoyed mixing things up. Like, I remember practicing how to punctuate "but," "and," "or", and "for," with lessons in acids and how to make coca cola. It was a blast to teach the kids Jose Marti's "Entro La Nino, En La Bosque," "Juro Fidelidad," and "Atama Kata," during Intro. to Foreign Language classes. My son used to say I was too hyper as a teacher. I didn't understand what he meant. I LOVED what I was doing. What is wrong with that?

In 1995 I brought my Tandy 1000 HX into my classroom, plugged it into the phone jack and dialed up to use FIRN, who was offering free Internet access, free email accounts, and web page hosting to Florida teachers, or AOL when AOL 2.5 for Windows 3.1 was launched. As we worked in the classroom, any time a student or I had a question and no one knew the answer or wasn't sure if we had the right answer, we searched the Internet. We learned the difference between fact and opinion and broadened our background knowledge. Oh yes, I remember one of those teacher's lounge comments.

"Why would she have those kids using the Internet and learning Japanese? They need to be diagramming sentences and practicing for the California Achievement Test instead... And she hasn't even been to Japan... she doesn't have a computer science degree. She's teaching English. They should be following the textbook."

I stopped going to the Teachers' Lounge because it was a depressing place to be. Not everyone in the Teachers' Lounge is policing the school for innovation and non-conformity, but I found that many are. (Something like what I see on Internet forums and lists.) Anyways, instead, I got support from the parents and the students and the local businesses for special projects; the same as I find support for Internet projects from my colleagues, partners, customers and even family. The EXPERTS in the TL I was told were making me the star of their National Enquirer. They actually said that I wasn't very smart. (Thank you, Forrest and Mom. Stupid is as stupid does). That I was stupid for thinking that kids in Century, Florida needed the Internet, penpals, foreign languages and knowledge of the beach, the zoo, and the local newspaper...

I hear it all the time still in the NEXT GENERATIONAL IP communications industry. What you do is nothing? It is not newsworthy. Be more technical in your descriptions. (As if VoIP is some secret club of only those who toss 1's and 0's back and forth to each other.) Oh yes, and you are a commercial. Tell me... how do we separate a commercial from a testimonial or a HOW TO video? Bring on the VoIP and anything over IP commercials.

Every industry has the EXPERTS attempting to keep you in check. I say ignore the dissing on the Asterisk-Biz list and other forums, etc. Many readers of this blog and I have actually helped many members of these lists, utilities, and communities, who have an often "laughed at or ignored" new idea, get started in the VOIP business. Now, promote it. Tell about it. Show how to do it. Let your customers tell why they chose you and how to use your service and what it does for them. If that is a commercial, bravo!

Wow, you mean someone is actually offering a voice over Internet service that people know how to use, want to use and is commercially viable? Heresy.

We read the forums, lists, and blogs. We don't believe every Tom, Dick and Harry's comments on them, and you don't have to believe mine on this one. Naysayers and the digitally smug and the cheaters... voipo, voiponit, voipoutofhere, voipihateeveryonewhoisnotlikeme, voipihateanyonewhobelievesinwhattheysell, and you know what I mean. Hang in there. No one KNOWS IT ALL. And guess what else? You may let someone into your front door or back door and they may steal your code or your idea, but they will never do it as well as you do if you can help it. Remember that. Care about your customer more than they do.

If you have something that people need, talk about it, and do not worry about what people say. The world needs to KNOW what you have to offer. Don't let the Teacher's Lounge rule you. If we can help you whether the company you buy voIP from or resell voIP from goes out of business and other matters (Super Technologies, Inc. and DIDXchange), contact us.

See you on Facebook and Linkedin and at the events, Internet Telephony Expo and Conference West 2007 in Los Angeles mid-September and Fall VON in late October in Boston.

No comments: