Beth Hernandez 0:06
Hello, and welcome to our episode one. Thank you so much for being here. While I am super excited to introduce you to our content partners and our whole community of specialists that are chomping at the bit to bring you resources and tools for all my campus leaders. In this episode, I'll introduce you to the executives of responsive learning. I really want you all to get to know who RL is why we care so much for campus leaders, educators and students, where we've come from and really just what makes us tick. So in this episode, I sit down with Greg steel, Pat Fox, and Tommy Tina Harrow, as we explored the history future and the passion of responsive learning. Let's dive in. Right, Pat? And Tommy, can you guys tell us a little bit about yourselves?
Tommy Tinajero 1:01
Go for it Greg
Greg Steele 1:03
Sure. So my name is Greg Steele. And Pat and I, oh, gosh, what was it about 15 years ago, had a mutual friend Kay car that was a retired superintendent had served on all kinds of state boards had been afforded, had been appointed by then Governor, George Bush, and to to a technical committee and had served at that state board level and just an amazing lady who really had a passion and a vision to love kids through loving teachers, if you serve teachers, and really help them support them, then you're also loving kids. And that was deep on our heart, we just she had this vision of being able to use technology to help and support and love teachers, which would then in turn love those kids. And we, it just rang true with us, we're like, you know what that is work worth doing. That's a business that, you know, we can employ people to who have like hearts and passion for serving teachers in serving, helping education be as top quality as it can, especially in rural areas where maybe you don't get to always hear the greatest speaker because you're just on the unit, you're not on the list, you don't make it sometimes. So bringing every teacher the opportunity to hear from some of the very best professional professionals who have, hey, this is a great technique. Let's love our kids this way. And that was just super exciting. And we I had I have a technology company steel consulting, that specializes in building web systems and mobile applications and database heavy, high performance systems. We work for Fortune 500 global companies and those. So the opportunities were there with with great experience in the education space with great technology. We were like, You know what, let's bring this together and, and just have a have a have a super fun time. So Pat, I'll let you explain how you came into it. But man, I just fell in love with the with the opportunity and the vision and said, hey, I'll work with these guys. This is gonna be a blast.
Beth Hernandez 3:39
So you knew you knew Kay? And Tommy new Kay? Well, actually,
Greg Steele 3:45
you know, Pat new Kay first. So we came in with that why don't you explain how that works? I met Kay through Pat So and Okay, okay. It was hilarious. Yeah, he brought me in. He said you need to meet this lady. And I don't even think he prepped me. He just said Come meet this lady. You're gonna love her. And I'm like, Okay, well, I trust you, man. Let's come. Let's come talk.
Beth Hernandez 4:11
Okay, So Pat, how did you meet Kay?
Pat Fox 4:14
Yeah, Greg did a great job explaining how it all got started. Kay, Kaywas a superintendent in Del city. And it's a very small, rural community. And again, like Greg said, she just she has a heart for the for the underdog. And so she she was out there and won all kinds of awards that all kinds of great things, but we were the external independent auditors for the school district. And so we've known Kay for forever 3540 years, I guess. And when she retired, she started a company called quality learning. And we had gone to meet with her in Houston and her existing partner and it just wasn't quite working out. They just couldn't really get things going. And when we came back, there was just this kind of thought, I wonder, you know, I wonder if Greg could help with this. I wonder if we could do something. And then, you know, kind of just blew that off and said that that's a dumb idea. That's not what I, you know, don't call grid. I was walking through the parking lot. I really felt like God said, that's exactly what I want you to do call Greg. And, and so it was one of those things where you wrestle and you got no, he's busy. We shouldn't get involved in all of this. We're not going to do this. I said, No, that's exactly what I want you to do. So okay, out of obedience and a leap of faith. And it really was I just told Greg, hey, you need to meet this lady. And when we did, I think the first meeting lasted about four hours. And it just went
Beth Hernandez 5:58
from there. And one of those Yeah, it
Pat Fox 6:01
was crazy. And then I'll just really quickly, you know, Tommy wasn't there early on, and we struggled for many years. And then Greg, you know, a few years later, I think it was a few years, he says, I got this guy, Tom, we really need to meet him. I really think Tom is going to be the one that's going to help us. I said, Okay, well, let's meet and, and so then when Tommy came into the fold, everything just kind of took off from there. And and just real quick, because there'll be a whole lot more but But Tommy and Kay, were oil and water was integrated. Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. And so I think that the very first few years, my biggest role was just to mediate between Kay and Tommy. And, and, you know, it just, it just went from there, though. And, but that's how we got started. And that's how we knew Kay. And then really, responsive learning is Kay's vision. And it and we've been really blessed to be able to just run with it.
Beth Hernandez 7:08
Yeah. And it's so cool. That still, you know, 15 years later, which we're still doing that, like, that's just awesome. So tell me, what were you doing before responsive learning? Like, why was it the Greg, like, what were you doing that made Greg think, Hey, Tommy would be good here?
Tommy Tinajero 7:25
Well, Greg, and I met, you know, right around the time I met my wife, and our my, you know, at the time, she was just this beautiful gal that I wanted to get that I wanted to be my wife. And so we were going to the same church. And we had some interactions, we ended up just, you know, getting married. And all those things. We bumped into each other just on a on a, I guess it was a God thing we were, we were sitting in the same row of a church that we were both visiting in Dallas, when we had both moved to Dallas, we didn't even know where each others were. And we were in Dallas. And then so we ended up doing a bunch of things together there for the church. And we had a really fun time together. And that built relationship. I moved to Portland, Oregon to run a company up there. And did that started the company. We did just a bunch of stuff up there. I was there for about seven years. And I was on my way down I was we were in Moab Utah, driving this big giant U haul moving my family down from Portland when I got a call from Greg, he said what do you do? And I said, I'm moving back. And then he said, Hey, come meet with us. And I was like, okay, you know, so pretty much, you know, showed up to the meeting and met Greg. I mean, I you know, met Pat, I'd never known Pat. And I didn't know Kay at all. And so they introduced me to, he introduced me to them. And I was totally impressed by their vision. Kay was, you know, and is it just a, she's a she's an amazing woman that has amazing vision. She's always thinking way ahead of her of the time. So you know, the, the opportunity was for me to work and kind of make something happen. And these guys were going to provide a lot of help, you know, the tech it side was going to be done, you know, there's the business back end was going to be handled by Pat and Kay was vision and was going to help me just kind of get into education and and I was just going to try to make it happen. So that's how we we started it was long time ago and it was really it doesn't really actually seem that long ago but has been a really amazing thing. And one of the things that just is so great to see that. Every time we we take another step forward in what we are doing. We just, you know, we connect with Kay let her know what's happening and you know, it's just mind blowing that we're We're still moving forward, we still haven't accomplished what she her vision is, but we're getting you know, we're moving forward every, every year, we're in a different place.
Beth Hernandez 10:12
So tell me more about the oil and water oil. More, I'm really interested what that was like, as you guys, you know, started a business and started working together, how you moved through that, like, what, what was that process like?
Tommy Tinajero 10:30
Well, I guess the oil and water are oil and water, oil and water, probably vinegar and oil, I'd like to do that because it's more of a salad, you can put some spices in it, and it makes something amazing. But, but I would say that, that, you know, Kay, she was so passionate about helping teachers reach kids, you know, the most influential person in a teacher in a student's life is going to be a teacher, and I bet we can all think of our lives. And besides our parents, you know, I can think of several teachers who made a big difference in my life that helped me to formulate the way I think and feel and how you know, what success is and how to be humble. I mean, there's just a lot of things that are tied to what a teacher can can do for a child and especially, you know, with, with parents working and single families and things like that, you know, teachers are so important. And so, Kay was very passionate about how do we help teachers, you know, just basically know their why and accomplish that, like, just get in there and be passionate about serving kids and meeting them where they're at and helping them so. Okay, so she had a lot of ideas of like, what teachers need, and they were right. You know, I think the biggest challenge was, you know, when you start a business, and you're selling, and you're marketing, a lot of times, you, you, when you start off with, where are you, and how can I help you, right, was kind of the starting point that I was trying to kind of move on, and she was like, no, but we need to, we need to, here's more, we need to be doing more. And so it was kind of a little bit of a battle there. But
Greg Steele 12:20
she probably always had kind of 10 more ideas than we had capacity to do. So it was like, Hey, guys, this is really important, we got to do this. And it's like, but Kay, if we do that, we're gonna we won't ever finish anything, we have to finish. Let's get this one thing done. And then let's get to this next thing done. And, but she was always thinking, you know, you know, three years ahead, and everything she was thinking was right, teachers didn't need that kids, teachers did need that, but we need but we also were like, Guys, we have to finish something or we're not helping the teachers at all.
Tommy Tinajero 13:01
And, and again, you know, her passion, she would, you know, she would call us regularly just saying, hey, let's, let's do this other thing, let's do this new thing. And she was powerful that way. Because, you know, looking back on a lot of those things that she talked about, we're now doing a lot of those things. And they're making a difference. And so we're, you know, that was early years, but Pat would, you know, Pat would get in the middle and just kind of talk, he would, he would translate language to me, and then Greg would get in there and, you know, encourage me, but also say, hey, let's slow this down, and kind of bring some order. And, and, and so, so anyway, you know, but just like every business, I mean, if you're starting out, a lot of times, they're just a lot of you. You start out with some struggle, and you learn how to work your way through it. You know, there were some things that we did, even some conceptually, some of the things that we started off with was with responsive learning, we, we, we knew we wanted to build professional development for teachers. And so then, at the very beginning, we we actually brought people on to be those content, experts, right to build content for us. But and they were in like employees of ours kind of, but then as I went out, you know, as we developed our first product with it was the previous teacher, appraisal system orientation, we worked with T EA on some of that. And, and as I went out to start selling, I would ask the, the districts and our customers, you know, share with me your PD Plan, like what are you going to do this year, your schedule, so they were shared with me, and then I saw that, you know, 12 of them had the same pretty much the same schedule, the same content and the same trainings that they were going to do. So then I I asked him, Well, how are you getting? How are you developing this training, and they were reading the same books talking to the same people going to the same conferences. So we started to see that, that there's a lot of work being done a great work being done at school districts. But it's very much kind of the wheel is being reinvented over and over and over again. And so we we kind of thought, Well, why are we going to do the same thing? Why are we going to bring people on board to do that? Why don't we just go to those authors and those experts that everybody's was paying attention to? And why don't we build their content, and then this so that the school districts don't have to do that work, and they can move on to the next best thing that's on their list of things. So that really became the launchpad for what we are today. That's kind of like the foundation. So it's, it really started to formulate in our minds. Let's, let's build alliances and partnerships with content people, with organizations and associations to better serve teachers. And let's just ask the question, what is needed right now, again, and we got in the middle, we basically tried to get in the middle of, of all of that, so that we can connect experts with teacher. So what's beautiful about it is that we build content. And that teacher that that Kay knew, in Del city, little del city, she would that teacher would never get to go to a conference to visit with an amazing content partner. Well, now we can bring that content to that teacher. That was kind of like the starting point of where things really started to take off in our vision.
Beth Hernandez 16:40
Okay, and remind me when When did RL actually get started? Like, what what year? Did did you guys kind of launch things?
Tommy Tinajero 16:49
Well? I would I would, I think I guess I could probably answer that better. I mean, I have, I'm sure my dates are off.
Pat Fox 17:03
I probably need to look, but I think it was 2005 2006. around then. And Tommy Tommy said something that was was really big, where he said, you know, how can we help you? That was one of the things with Kay. One of her favorite things to say would be because she was an educator, she always dealt with big companies, salespeople, and she would say, Don't come in here peddling what you got come in here and ask me how you can help. And then maybe I can look at what you got. And so I think that's really been a big thing, even today with Tommy heavy user groups. You know, it's not, okay, we're going to show you what we're doing for you. And we're going to show you how we can help Tommy always starts with, how can we help? What do you all need? Right, you know, which is so much? And what's the pain point, you know? And anyway, it's really driven so much of what we've done, just by asking, how can we help? And you know, without adding more to your plate, how can we take things off your plate, and a lot of that just came from k, because in the early days, she used to say, responsive learning was was built for educators by educators. And that was a big thing with her. She wanted people to know that. I get it. I've been there. And and we're here to just add value to you. And how can we know?
Beth Hernandez 18:26
Well, and that's something I've noticed, that I appreciate so much is how much of our sales staff and the people that do a lot of the behind the scenes stuff have been in education. It's not just some business people or some sales people that have no idea what's ever gone on in education. But we have folks that have been teachers that have been principals that have been coordinators that have done all of these different roles, helping direct us and I think that's something that's really missing in a lot of the edtech companies. And I really appreciate that. I don't know how the name responsive learning came to be like, what? Why were those words chosen for this company?
Greg Steele 19:10
What do you remember? I know that we were saying we, you know, we didn't want things we learned we know that learning doesn't happen in a one way funnel. You don't just pipe your grands knowledge into somebody it needs to be responsive, reactive, interactive, and we liked the idea of connecting teachers so like even in our in our very first early courses, we still wanted to have this interactive peer connections. So hey, let's take this course together. Let's make it like a book club. Let's make it like a like a like a town meeting where you get together and you You practice and you try things together. And then you report back to each other and say, hey, you know what this worked really well hey, check out my adjustments to my, to my curriculum, look what we did with this lesson based on what we were learning together. This was really fun. Here's some of the feedback, here's some of the the assignments that some of our kids did based on that lesson, and there was so much more engagement, and kind of build that energy with each other. Because no matter how technical our world becomes, we're humans, we're people, we smile, when we see someone else smile, we get excited when someone else is excited. And that group, that group that humanity has to always be there, no matter how cool the technology is, it's about people, it's about one on one with each other. It's a, it's a little village of, of, of, of educators moving together to really make a difference. And that's it. So we never want to lose track of that. So responsive learning is the idea of hey, we're learning, we're responding. We're changing, we're iterating really making, making it better, and never staying in the same place always, always growing forward. So that's, I think that was kind of the spirit of what our goal was. Last thing Kay ever wanted to do. And we so we started building this in early early on, was never just put a talking head up and just spout information and have to be constantly responding back and working together on on what we're learning. So engaging.
Pat Fox 21:47
And what one other thing that's just just quick, it's, it's funny, because that that's, that's how we we lived up to the name responsive learning. And I think that was the idea of the spirit of it. But it was another partner of Greg's Phil Apple, that we had tried to bring on early on. And he loved the idea. And he just said, I think this is going to be a lot of work. And anyway, Phil said he was right, Phil said, yeah, so he said, You know, I think, I think a bout of, you know, being a partner with you. But let me help. And so he really came up with a name, came up with responsive learning. And we all said, Oh, this is good. And then we just kind of lived up to, you know, the name. So it was really one of those things that that was, you know, yeah. Anyway, it is, it is a fun story.
Tommy Tinajero 22:48
Yeah. And, you know, delivering up to the name, it, it seems hard, you know it, because you have to, it basically requires us to slow down, right to hold back. Because, like you said, you know, we have a lot of people on our team who are educators and, and so the we we already start off with a fairly good idea. But sometimes we don't, you know, and sometimes the idea that we come up with is just not, it might be enough off that, that it won't be helpful. And so, you know, when we started doing things like user group dinners with our customers were in those meetings, we we treat them really great. And we we asked them, like, we might show them some marketing messages to ask them to, you know, give us a feedback on whether it you know, what, what it said to them, and if it was, you know, they were, you know, effective. It might be a time where we're just brainstorming new solutions or new ideas. Or it might be that we have a product, and sometimes out of one of those brainstorms, we'll come up with an idea or product. Then the next time we meet with them, we said, Okay, this is we take your ideas, this is what we're developing. Sorry, there's a train going by, you know, this is what we're developing and can What do you guys think? And they poke holes, and they tell us what works. And then we just keep going through that process. Some of our products have taken a year or two years to work with them to build these things out. To make them really what, what, what is most effective and helpful to educators, whether they're teachers are the administrators. But slowing down is hard for a business that's one wants to grow and wants to make an impact, right. But what we have found is that we have made such good friends we have it has been such a valuable experience in slowing down and and just having these great conversations and connecting with people and really also getting to know what really makes them tick and what gets in the way. Have them accomplishing what they're what they're set out to accomplish. So it's, it's hard, in a way, even today, I mean, even even the prime in the last couple of months, we've had to say, Okay, wait a minute, that's a great idea. But let's take it to our customers, let's find out what they're thinking, you know, and we have to always be very purposeful about that it doesn't, doesn't necessarily come very naturally, to, to us and to a lot of people, but I think it's getting it's more part of our DNA, and it's easier for us now. So whenever somebody says that it's like, Yes, that's what we need to do, rather than have, but we need to get this to market, you know, whatever. So
Greg Steele 25:36
listening, listening is just such a key to everything, you know, it's so easy to talk, but it's, it's harder to listen. And that's so critical in you even in the, you know, in a fast paced business world. Even more, it's even more critical to stop and listen and slow down. And and whether that's listen, I was thinking about, you know, how critical it's been for us to have our helpdesk leaders on the leadership staff, so that they can provide what was happening yesterday, or today, how do we make it? How do we make lives better, when it really comes down to it, we want to make lives better, through the technology that responsive learning is offering through the connections through the bringing of specialists and folks that are really studying each area of, of education, how do we how do we do things the best way possible, but, but really having that interactive, responsive type of approach. So every time we, every time somebody is having a harder time doing something, or learning something, or scheduling something, using the system to coordinate hundreds of teachers. I mean, it's like, you know, if you're, if you're working with campuses, in across your city, across multiple cities, and you're trying to coordinate all these individuals who have can, you know, competing priorities and complex schedules, and you're trying to get all of them to take certain CPE credits, or get certain certifications that are required, or whatever it might be, you're trying to get everybody together so that they can be that community and learn from each other. But they have different schedules. Those are challenging, it's like herding cats, for sure. So the court, you know, the curriculum coordinators, the the PD coordinators, they have a challenging job, so listening to them and helping them you know, it's not just about delivering a great course, it's also the infrastructure, the railways, so that you can have 1000s of teachers coordinated, and it all you know, and they can all come together, even though they're taking courses at different times. Because heck, you know, even if you have a bunch of teachers coming into a, you know, the old school way of doing PD, where you have a big gymnasium, and you have everybody in there, not everybody's really in there, you've got folks doing the crosswords in the back, you've got grading papers going on someone else's thinking about their, you know, what they, you know, their sick, sick child at home. So, making a place where everybody can really come together and focus on a an idea, concepts away of growth, a new way of teaching or a better an incremental improvement to a teaching strategy. Those types of things are huge. And so that's, that's, that's kind of some of the things that we've learned along the way, is that just having the great concept for a course or whatever it might be, is just one step. We also need to have all the infrastructure in place for 1000s of teachers to come together and have that in and the coordination of that so. Yeah.
Beth Hernandez 29:17
What has that process been like? The the reevaluation process like that sounds horribly uncomfortable and difficult to kind of pivot. And that's, you know, consistently, it's like, hey, if we need to pivot we can or if we try something like that's such a part of how responsive learning operates is taking a step. And if it doesn't work, like hey, let's take a different step in a different direction. How have you guys kind of become comfortable with that pivoting shifting reevaluation process? Or are you comfortable with?
Tommy Tinajero 29:51
I would say that we're probably getting comfortable with it for sure. Sure. Yeah. Honestly, just even coming into the company from the very beginning of Greg. Patent and Kay were very much like that giving, you know, like, for instance, they gave me the rains to just go and build. And it has not been a, you know, just a flat road that's wide and no potholes. In fact,
Greg Steele 30:17
the first, never fun to hear the feedback that isn't happy, like, Oh, this is great. We love this. It's never fun to hear that feedback. But you know what, it's the best feedback.
Tommy Tinajero 30:29
We have experienced so many, you know, very, very significant changes in when we got feedback from our customers, or sometimes it's, it might be feedback from a customer, but sometimes it's just like, Man, how do I feel about what how is this company doing? Is it allowing me to be like, for me, for instance, me to be me, and for Greg to be Greg and for all of our employees to be them? Right. And so, like, one example would be when we first started out, you know, we were building courses, and I was out selling and, and we were kind of building a company and adding some employees. And at one point, I was at a conference. And if I was exhibiting, and, you know, if you've ever exhibited, it's, it can be grueling, you know, unless you're doing something fun, right. But it was grueling. And it's like trying to fish when the fish aren't biting, you know, a lot of times. And so people are passing by, and you're trying to get their attention, and just everyone is just hard. And it and if I can just kind of paint a picture of what it was like, it wasn't like this, but it just in my mind. It was like the whole exhibit hall was was dark. Okay. And everybody was just like, you know, like, it was gnashing of teeth or just kind of like fighting for customers and stuff like that. There was one booth, it was like, the clouds that open and the rays of God's light were on that booth. And they were having a party over there. Right. And I'm not gonna tell you what they did. But it was probably one of the most boring things I could possibly think of, but they were having a good time, like their service. You know, their services, like on like, like auditing, you know, it was like
Pat Fox 32:28
totally agree, completely agree with like accounting.
Tommy Tinajero 32:30
So anyway, they were having a, they were having a fun time over there. And so one of the breaks, I walked over there, and I asked, I wanted to talk to the owner. And I asked him for five minutes of his time. And he sat with me, and I said, What are you guys doing over there? Man, you guys are having fun, and everybody's excited. And he he just said, look, he said, I read two books, and are well, there was one for sure. It was one book. And I think I have it here somewhere. But anyway, it was one book you read. And then he took time. And he changed his whole company over to this thinking this this kind of approach. And so I got the book, I read it and studied it for like three, that was about six months of time where I was working with Greg and just kind of formulating this whole idea. And and then we came in and we we got to change the company around this concept that worked with us. I mean, it was like That is who we are. Let's just do that. And we'll have fun doing it. Right. And so the idea was that building not focused on building customers, but building evangelists. Okay, so the idea was, let's, let's provide a service to our customers. That's so great, that they freely talk about us, right? But then what was important was that we then started to apply that with each other. So the, the ITT team does that with all the other teams, they say, Okay, you guys are our customers, how can we help you? And we're gonna blow your minds with service. So the marketing team does that with the sales team, right? We ask them and we ask for their help. And then we say we're gonna blow your minds with service internally. And by doing that, we do it externally as well. You know, so that was that was kind of like this trends, a big pivot that we made up, it was probably the one of the most significant pivots. The other I want to mention is we had a customer and I hope to get her on just podcasting. But you know, shy muttering, I guess I can't listen to Ben Cameron. Lisa van Garrett is she's amazing. And the first time I met her I thought, Man that that she's just an amazing person. Amazing trainers so smart. And so we started working with her and this was Way back, you know. And the first thing we built for her, she did not like it at all. I mean, she had really Oh, she was so she was, you know, she just didn't like it, what our approach was, we're going to take your content, and then we're going to make it into something amazing, right? And, and we didn't even think didn't even occur to me that she took the time to build something amazing. Just leave it alone, but just take her stuff to a nice course. So we anyway, we've, we've messed around with her design and all this stuff. And she just, and she let me know, right off the bat at this, you know, anyway. And it took us a little bit of time. I mean, it was a probably a few years of seeing her at conferences and saying, Hey, let's talk, Manning up and just saying I'm sorry, and just trying to talk to her. And then finally, we had changed our approach. And I met with her, and she gave us another shot. And what we did she loved, you know. And so her listening to her feedback and taking it to heart, we really, we we completely changed the way we build online courses with our content, our customers content, and that had made it has made it so that we can create content faster, get it to market faster, we can we can provide a greater service to our content partners and help our teachers faster because the content is getting from their minds into their hands quicker. Yeah, those are some big ones. Those are some really big ones.
Beth Hernandez 36:41
So that's so so Lisa came to you, you provided her something. And she'd took that and said I don't like it and then didn't talk to you guys for a while. Like you didn't keep going. Like she kind of just said, Hey, no more. Is that what happened?
Tommy Tinajero 36:58
Yes. I mean, sort of okay, but she was like, Man, she was borderline. She's just such
Beth Hernandez 37:05
a big part of responsive learning now. Oh, like, this is so fascinating to hear this story about Lisa. Because she's I mean, everyone at RL just loves her. And she's amazing. And she's so well known. I haven't I haven't heard this story.
Tommy Tinajero 37:20
It was brutal. You know, the first thing is, is, you know, when you get feedback like that, there's a big part of you that are part of me that I was like, wait a minute, how can you not like what we did? We did it. And we gave us we gave it our all and we were just so excited. And and to hear that, that our model was broken. You know, you know, you it wasn't that she walked away from us. It was, you know, part of it was like, Man, I'm gonna I don't want to work with you guys anymore unless you change something. Right. So there's a part of that that's true. But there's another part that where I'm just licking my wounds and just trying to figure it out. Right? Yeah. So absolutely. So there was there was a time where we weren't, like constantly talking. And it took time for us to rebuild our ideas of how we were going to do things. And we we started building some courses using it using that new model. And that's when, you know, just having that conversation with her. You know, it was just kind of like, hey, you know, trust, you know, gift, just give us one more shot. We heard you loud and clear, this is what we're going to do, how we're going to do it. And she gave us another shot. And it didn't take long for her to just start building a lot of courses with us and, and she's now she's one of our most successful content partners.
Pat Fox 38:44
So Beth, what really happens, it's a white Tommy, he runs everything. He makes everybody mad at him. And then he wins him back and then their fans for life. And it started out with his wife, Tammy. And then it was Lisa van Guimar. And so that's what it what it does. It's just how he does things. He's amazing.
Beth Hernandez 39:11
I think that's you know, I mean, we just and we laugh, but repairing from conflict is an essential part of running a successful business, but maintaining successful relationships. And so it's so fascinating to hear that like yep, you know, everyone is going to make people mad. Everyone is going to have conflict, but it's the people that can repair from that and move forward and move through that that build successful relationships and businesses. Yeah, it's so true listening component that all of you have talked about how important listening is and that responsiveness like it is such as you know, I haven't been here very long. I haven't but you know, knowing you guys for years, that's a part of your life, and how you know that kind of works into the ethos of the club. thing is just Yeah, so interesting to hear the history of that. Yeah, it's
Greg Steele 40:04
so it's so true, you, you know, if if if the things that we were dealing with, if nobody was passionate about it, if there wasn't a lot of energy, then you could probably get along just fine. But these are things that make a huge difference in a teacher's life. This is a huge in the day to day. These are things that make a huge difference ultimately, to students. And everybody's so passionate, nobody's doing this because the, you know, the paycheck is so huge, you don't become a teacher, you don't become a education specialist, someone who studies this because you're just like, hey, this is the best way to make money. No, people are doing this because they love kids, they love teachers, they want to make a difference that it's, it's, it's imparting to our future, some of our very best, and that kind of passion. When you hit the hard times, when you hit bumps, when you hit technical challenges, or whatever it might be, yeah, you're gonna get asked, you know, what's going on here, you know, how, you know, how dare you suggest doing this slightly differently than my than the way that I put all this energy into. So it's, there's a lot of, you know, passion around these things. And when you look back, you're like, Okay, well, maybe those were closer than we thought at the time. But everybody's really passionate, we don't hire people who aren't passionate, I mean, everybody's got a high level of energy and an excitement and all of our content partners, they are just so excited. And they would do it for free, they would do this, you know, as and they do they work 60 hour weeks, they really put their heart and soul into these things. So yeah, conflict revolute resolution, and learning kindness, ways to forgive ways to, to just love people in the midst of lots of passion and energy and that type of thing. It really is a core part. And even just, you know, it's also related to the idea of not throwing people under the bus, not throat not pointing fingers, making it a safe place. Just owning up, you know, what, if this is 20%, our fault 10% our fault 90% Your fault in our perception, it's always our perception, right? It's like, well, let's do the right thing, if we've got any ownership in it at all, even if there's a perception of ownership of a mistake, you know what, let's own up and let's do the right thing, let's be let's go above and beyond to fix this, to repair this to do what and whether that takes you know, whether that's a financial risk, or a loss or more time on our side, or we put more energy in or we work over a weekend, whatever it is, that's really a core part of the way we do business. Because I mean, it's just crazy how simple it is. But doing the right thing is a great business practice. And then it also is a great education practice, it's just a great way of relationship in, in all things that we do. So say that,
Tommy Tinajero 43:09
that also spills over to another thing that's really key for us. And it's true, even in the way that we some of the products that we build is that, you know, in our company, you know, we have a culture where we want, you know, people have permission to make decisions and fail. Right? Sir, having permission and having I say permission, but let's let's use that word for now. That it's like the permission or the the Hey, it's okay to fail, try try something. decision and try something. And, you know, we didn't get here, having made no mistakes. I mean, we've made some big financial mistakes, we've made some big, how we do things I just mentioned a couple that, you know, we talked about, we've made some mistakes, you know, and how can I expect employees to not make mistakes, and as soon as you make, as soon as there's an expectation to not make a mistake, they you then lock them down, right? They're not going to make a decision. So now all decisions correct you, which I So, so, and that's assuming that I'm really perfect at making decisions. Right, right. We're more likely to get to a great decision and product or whatever we're doing. If somebody else makes that decision, and we're just like, Yeah, that sounds good. Let's just go you know, then then to all decisions come to me. And that's also something that we do with we want with, you know, we try to bring to education as well is that you know, teachers a strategy is not going to work 100% of the time. You know, there's changes in the demographics of a kid classroom that can make a big difference. You know, and so. So the idea behind a lot of our training is that teachers get to try, try a strategy, talk about it, maybe even say this didn't work. And this is maybe why, or, or this did work, our, it didn't work at first. And this is what I did to it so that it worked and sharing all that information is really important for, for growth. And if a teacher, if a teacher feels like, hey, I can, I can only I can't make decisions here and I can't try things, then you kind of walk them down also. So we tried to take that approach and just say, hey, let's just allow things to be tried. And for there to be collaboration, like in PLCs. And other ways to, to kind of talk, how to move forward and take, take what was tried and learn to improve?
Beth Hernandez 45:59
Yeah, so tell me, do we do we? I don't know, I haven't been a part of the design team in a decade. Are we building some of that into the actual courses? So way for teachers to meet with their PLCs? Or to meet? Like, how are how are we making that possible for teachers?
Tommy Tinajero 46:18
So we have our we have several different products that we offer, one of them is the online course. Right? So the online courses allow people to take, you know, an administrator to provide give teachers a large library of vetted content, organized and categorized, so it's easy to find, and, and the reason for that is because I mean, if you think about a principal, who's introducing instructional leader of a campus, and their job is to develop and nurture their teachers so that they get, you know, a high level of education, right. So imagine having 3050 employees, some of them are brand new first a year teaching, some of them have been teaching for 25 years, some of them are working with special ed and some of them are working with in gen ed in there. So you're talking about a wide, wide, unique experiences and needs, right? Think about this. Teachers come from different universities, and they learn certain things. Some of them were heavy on some things and heavy on other things. So they come to school, and they come to their work, having different experiences, and how so how is the principal to provide unique targeted, differentiated support and training to each teacher? Yeah, that's, that by itself, just providing PD in that way is a full time job. And they don't they have other job roles. Right, right. So with our library, what it allows them to do is to provide that differentiated, instruct our development and professional learning for the teachers. So it makes it easier for them to do that. But then, inside of our courses, teachers can do reflective questions in different activities. They contribute thoughts, whenever they do that, okay, right. After that, they can see what others have have said about that, whatever that is, right. Okay. So that's one way. Yeah. And it's not okay. It is a good way, it's not a great way to have interaction. So we developed another product called PD to practice. And yeah, at the practice was based on some research that came out that showed that professional development is about 30% effective, which means of the millions of dollars in a district that are spent training only 30% of the difference in the classroom. And so we worked with administrators through those user groups for two years to develop, how can we help that? How can we make PD more effective because that research is true for even our research, our training, it's not just, you know, traditional face to face training, it's all training is about 30% effective, which means you're I mean, we've all experienced this where we go to some training, and then it's great stuff. We've taken great notes and then it goes on a shelf. Yeah, we never pull it down. Yep. For a lot of different people. Yeah. So how do we help them to learn and apply and try and then have a reflective process and and a collaborative process so that they learn from each other and keep doing that? So? A lot The districts and a lot of campuses have PLCs already built into their plan. And this is a system that helps them to do all of that. So they it is a it is designed to, to make a PLC much better, it's a system and that all of that information goes to the administrator so they can see what the teachers are using learning in the classroom, and how is it working and outcomes they're experiencing with their students? That's amazing. So that took a long time. That was a big process where we were working on developing that,
Beth Hernandez 50:39
yeah, yeah, that's amazing.
Tommy Tinajero 50:43
And when people use it, there's a there's a significant, like a three, it's like a, you know, the effectiveness is more like in the 70% range.
Beth Hernandez 50:54
Really? I hadn't heard that too big man. That's cool. I love that I yeah, that's, that's awesome. We've talked so much about what responsive learning is really good at what our strengths are, what are some things that you would like to see responsive learning grow in over the next year, three years, five years, what would you like to see us change or move into or adapt to?
Tommy Tinajero 51:22
Well, one of so we have spent almost all of our time building courses for teachers. And we're still, you know, our library, we have, you know, about 400 courses in there. And it covers a lot of different areas, mostly in the area of like, gifted education and sped and a lot of a lot of instructional strategies, things like that. What, one of the things that we're working on right now is developing a library of training for, for campus administrators, and helping them with, and we're, we're initially focusing on those brand new, you know, administrators, aspiring principals, and also the maybe the principal who's struggling a little bit. And so, we were wanting to build a library to help them you know, in in support their work as well, because it's important, it's really important, if, if the teacher is the most influential in a student's life, the principal is the most, you know, influential teachers wide. So we if we can do that, we'll be doing really good.
Beth Hernandez 52:41
Yeah, yeah, you know, I've been parts of campuses that have horrible administration, that's not supportive, that's maybe not present that isn't, brings no energy or no life to the school, and they just believe teachers, and then I, you know, now my kids are at a campus that is phenomenal. The principle is amazing. And everyone just kind of like what you were saying, all of the teachers are just these raving enthusiast, all of the time evangelists for how great the school is, because of our principal, like, that's really what the difference that is made there is because she's just a phenomenal leader. So that's so exciting to give, especially leaders that don't have support, or that are in rural districts, or that don't have maybe giant service centers, supporting them and training them. That's really exciting.
Greg Steele 53:33
And why does somebody, somebody Excel, and someone else doesn't Excel? I mean, that's the, you know, the 100 year question, right? The two, you know, the decade of the century old question of, you know, how do you really help somebody? Well, you know, for, for the for probably everybody who excels, there's a support group, there's inspiration, there's, you know, exciting, somebody's excited them, someone took time with them. And so it's there's ways for us to build that community. If there's ways for us to build a support group for us to help people be inspired in whatever their role is. There becomes this, this moment when it becomes this positive momentum. And then once you've got that momentum, then everybody can join folks that are kind of on the fence like am I going to be an influencer? Am I going to be a detractor, they become influencers, they become part of the positive momentum. And that moments can happen from all types of things. So to if we have better tools that aren't frustrating. We have technology that helps if we have inspiration, we have a little bit more time to be collaborative with other people who are positive, maybe good bringing good ideas that we have You know, can be inspired by those, those all those little things move us to that tipping point where you've got that positive momentum. And then everybody's like, yeah, let's get on the, let's get on the bandwagon for positivity for optimism for moving forward. And if we couldn't be a part of that in any way, I mean, that's, those are the kinds of things we're always thinking about, how can we do that? How can we make somebody's day easier, better, so that they can really focus on what's exciting and fun. So
Pat Fox 55:35
and Tommy, maybe you could just talk about the VR thing, just really quickly, that gives that as you know, a year, two years, three years, five years, it's kind of a neat thing, that's, that's come up through partnership. And, yeah, we could maybe just speak to that a little bit.
Tommy Tinajero 55:54
We're kind of in the the early stages of working on some solutions, and some training that would be leveraging and using VR, virtual reality and AR as well. And so you know, that that technology is not going to get smaller, it's only going to get more, it's going to be adopted a lot more. So we're exploring different ways to use VR, right now we're, we're centered and focusing on things that, you know, teachers, you know, have to go through. Sometimes it's mostly like compliance stuff, for the most part, but, and a very starting point right now is school safety. So like, lockdown in school, shooting and, and, you know, evacuation, things like that. So we're working with a partner on building content, VR content, we're right now going out to our customers, showing them what it's like and getting their feedback. And they're helping us kind of finalize the development of, of the training tools and tutorials and things like that. So we're kind of we're getting pretty close to launching all of that. But we're also as we're doing that, exploring ways to use it for things like classroom management, and moving it kind of up the chain to more pedagogy. Yeah. Yeah, we'll see, we'll see, I think I think it's going to be, you know, when when we got into online, professional development, there wasn't a lot going on at the time, and what what was available wasn't very user friendly. And so we were kind of ahead of this, you know, ahead of the wave. And now that there's a lot more professional development, I think there's a new thing coming up. And I think VR is going to be part of that.
Beth Hernandez 57:50
We're kind of coming up on our time here. Before we wrap up, is there anything else that you would like people to know about who we are at responsive learning? Think of anything, we're talking about the nuts and like the inner workings, the Yeah.
Tommy Tinajero 58:16
Wow, that's a that's a growing like an organism that has to know what we're all about. And, and, you know, I would, I would just say that, that we're very open to new ideas and things like that. So, you know, anybody reaching out to us through any of our social media channels, or, you know, our website, if you're a content partner, who, you know, we're, we're in about 300 school district in Texas, and about another three, actually, it's more like, five to 600 outside of Texas. If you want a marketplace, and you want your content out there, just call us if you're an administrator that wants content and want to talk to us about how maybe we can help you. And we'd love to learn what, what we can do to help you so, you know, give us a holler.
Beth Hernandez 59:09
Okay, anyone else have any closing remarks or things that you'd like folks to know, before we leave?
Greg Steele 59:16
You know, it's all about just Kavik having conversations, it's it's have, you know, be kind be, you know, look for, look for friends, when you don't realize that you have them there. You know, I love that. You know, they say that. President Lincoln, you know, he actually pulled his opponents into his cabinet because he realized that Opposing Viewpoints really was going to be the direction that you needed that he needed the country to go, you know, he needed the full idea. We don't want to be in in a vacuum. We don't want to be just in a group full of Yes, yes, people. So really, it's about you know, having the dial Again, even when you've got, you know, opposing alternate points of view, use those things because that's where the best ideas are always going to come from. Don't just find people who agree. Be kind to the folks that disagree and really dive into that conversation. That's where we're really gonna grow.
Beth Hernandez 1:00:20
Thank you guys so much for doing the fun. It's been great to learn and experiment. Try this whole thing out. You guys. Thank you.
Greg Steele 1:00:29
Thank you. Yeah, this was a lot of fun. Thanks for having us. By
Beth Hernandez 1:00:35
There you go via official history of responsive learning where we came from and hopefully we're going the production for this and the music that you hear was done by Erwin Slovak. Our logo and design work is from a lot of noise of steel consulting Greg Steel's tech company that helps make responsive learning possible. All of this this podcast is interviews. They're a labor of love from the folks that responsive learning and we really hope you enjoy. Thank you so much.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai