Having been out of the classroom for years, I took the opportunity to return in 2019. Lots had changed and much was the same. The interactive whiteboards and class computers were an improvement, but there was still paper everywhere: paper worksheets, paper tests, packets full of paper from the principal, folders stuffed with student papers!!
My partner and I started designing a web-based teacher tool that would turn the printed pages of any classroom into engaging digital activities. Teachers would be happier and more productive. Students would be ecstatic. We weren’t in any rush, taking our time to design it properly… and then COVID hit. And all of a sudden our laconic pace was replaced with a frenetic race to get TeacherMade into your hands as quickly as possible!! We launched on September 8th, 2020 and have been refining and expanding the product ever since, with YOUR help. Thank you so much for everything that you’ve given to the product you’re using today.
Brad Smith and Laura Bresko, the founders of TeacherMade.com, have spent all of their lives in the education world. Raised in families of Teachers– aunts, uncles, grandmothers, grandfathers and, most importantly, moms who all taught school, there was little doubt where they’d direct their professional attention. Coming of age during the 80s and 90s, they combined their natural attraction to technology with their education DNA. They’ve been making impactful edtech ever since– fueled by occasional stints in the classroom. They’re happiest when they’re solving problems for Teachers– and always capitalize the word out of respect for the beautiful, caring people who have enormous influence in each of our lives. We’re all “Teacher-made.”
Though we are a new site, we are not new to the edtech space. Our first company focused on the ELA classroom, making fully annotated and hyperlinked, multimedia books before the internet was available. A textbook publisher acquired it. In our second company, we made essential Teacher tools desktop software (remember that stuff?): puzzle makers, worksheet generators, test builders, etc. Harry Potter’s publisher bought most of those products. We didn’t really want to sell but sometimes it’s foolish to say no. So we kept the testing software because we were excited about the promise of data-driven instruction. We wrote 100,000+ questions and spent over a decade making Teacher favorites like FCAT Test Maker, STAAR Test Maker, and other state-specific assessment products. That company, Progress Testing, became a part of Illuminate Education’s “Megazord” mergers and acquisition spree. We were so relieved to be out of the assessment market by then! What started out as a hopeful social justice/equity issue has now become a cancer on public education. We all know it. Now let’s hope we have some societal backbone and do something about it in the coming months and years.
With TeacherMade, we’re so glad to be back where our hearts have always been– with YOU, the classroom Teacher. (I hope you’re able to feel our joy right through this screen!) We look forward to hearing from each and every one of you. What was born in a pandemic now reaches around the globe to help Teachers everywhere deliver instruction in a more productive and personal way.