As the co-founder and CEO of Teach to One, Joel Rose is bringing personalized learning to thousands of students across the country and stopping learning loss in its tracks. Teach to One uses cutting-edge, adaptive technology to tailor learning to each and every student’s unique strengths and needs.
Teach to One 360 is the only comprehensive math curriculum and learning model that leverages analytics from historical learner patterns, individual learner attributes, and lesson characteristics to personalize what, when, where, and how students learn. And with the recent release of Teach to One Roadmaps, families and educators can now access supplemental digital tools to support personalized math learning at home and in school.
As a former 5th-grade teacher, Rose was committed to providing all of his students with an education they both needed and deserved. Despite long hours and extensive professional development, he struggled with organizing daily instruction around the individual needs of each of his students. He knew other teachers struggled with this, too.
Working with co-founder Chris Rush, Rose launched School of One, New York City’s award-winning personalized educational program that was named one of the Top 50 Inventions of 2009 by TIME. In 2011, Rose and Rush formed New Classrooms Innovation Partners as an independent, non-profit organization in order to bring personalized learning to more students across the country. Teach to One 360 is New Classrooms’ flagship school-based learning model.
The successful impact of Teach to One continues to be felt by students and educators nationwide as schools evolve from the traditional classroom experience.
How did you get started in this business?
As a former 5th-grade math teacher, the math comprehension levels of my students varied greatly. While some students were at a second-grade level, others were at a seventh-grade level. Teaching the same textbook lesson to the same group of students proved to be mostly ineffective. I knew that the student’s who were behind in math were at a great disadvantage and would struggle to ever catch up to their peers.
Teach to One was created to equip educators with the tools and technology to personalize learning experiences based on the specific skills each student needs to reach proficiency.
How do you make money?
New Classrooms (the creators of Teach to One) is an independent, non-profit organization formed to bring personalized learning to more students across the country.
We raise money mostly through philanthropy to support key functions such as research and development work, while schools pay us a fee to support implementation.
How long did it take for you to become profitable?
We were fortunate to receive financial support through the generous gifts of institutions and individuals during our early days. We continue to raise funds to maintain operations and build the infrastructure needed to support growth.
When you were starting out, was there ever a time you doubted it would work? If so, how did you handle that?
I think every entrepreneur has moments of doubt in some way, shape, or form. But the early and continued success of Teach to One has kept me hopeful in our goal to give all students access to a personalized, high-quality math education. It just can’t be that the way we do school today, with a model designed more than 100 years ago, is the best way.
The unprecedented challenges schools face with Covid-19, combined with Black Lives Matter, has only deepened our resolve.
How did you get your first customer?
The initial implementation of Teach to One, School of One, began as a pilot program in New York City schools in 2009.
By 2012, Teach to One officially launched in Washington, DC, and Chicago, and shortly thereafter, New York City Department of Education began to use Teach to One to power its implementations of School of One.
What is one marketing strategy (other than referrals) that you’re using that works really well to generate new business?
We put Teach to One through third-party research to validate the effectiveness of the program and ultimately build trust with our users. Our marketing strategy hinges on our ability to deliver high-quality solutions with impactful results.
What is the toughest decision you’ve had to make in the last few months?
Whether to pivot and build Roadmaps (an all-digital version of Teach to One) or continue to focus exclusively on our core work. In the end, the immediate challenges resulting from Covid-19 meant we really had to pivot and make both solutions available.
What do you think it is that makes you successful?
I’m not sure we’re there yet. We still have a lot of work to do. But I think having been a teacher was invaluable in providing context to the work we do.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
There is nothing more satisfying than hearing students from a partner school share how much they love the program. That makes it all worthwhile.
What does the future hold for your business? What are you most excited about?
While we’re excited to have a pandemic-proof solution to offer schools and families, we’re even more excited to work with schools to prepare for a post-Covid recovery era. Our solution was designed to meet this moment… to end learning loss and get students back on track.
What business books have inspired you?
I’m a bit of a business book junkie. I just finished BE 2.0 (I’m a big Jim Collins fan… he’s probably been the most influential) and Reed Hastings latest book (No Rules Rules), which really made me think.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
The choices you make in your mid-twenties will set up your career. Don’t be afraid to take risks then and put yourself in uncomfortable positions that allow you to grow.
Are you willing to be a mentor? If so, how should someone contact you?
I’m always willing to share my experiences with those looking for advice from mission-driven organizations. I learn from them as well. Those interested should reach out by visiting our website, teachtoone.org.