Your Month to Month Guide for Understanding the School Market
Businesses may use a fiscal year, but education revolves around a unique academic calendar. The school year differs significantly from any other industry’s calendar.
Not surprisingly, the academic calendar has a tremendous impact on teachers’ lives. Family vacations, home projects, and even leisure time on weekends take a back seat when it comes to grades, state testing, and significant moments at the campus. Extracurriculars, tutoring, and graduation add to the momentum of the school year.
Businesses operate on a fiscal year that (usually) runs from January to December. However, for many educators, the year begins in August. Classes wind down in May, and teachers spend June and July attending professional development to prepare for the upcoming academic year.
Vendors who don’t understand the school year cycle and resulting purchasing process can feel like outsiders when they approach educators. It’s not that teachers and administrators aren’t interested in your product. You may have pitched your product at the wrong time in the cycle.
Here’s a glimpse of a standard school year as it evolves from month to month:
· August: Although the campus principals often return during the last week in July, teachers arrive at the campus in August. In a hectic push to get ready for students, they attend district and campus professional development, prepare their rooms, and plan for the first six weeks.
· September: Districts that did not commence in August begin now. Teachers are learning new software programs. If you have not already approached a district or school about your edtech product, now’s the time. In addition, the budget officially opens, and schools can begin spending their money.
· October: The second grading period has begun, and teachers feel like they know their students. They are mastering new programs, and educators are swamped with data reviews. This is also the only month in the academic calendar without a holiday, so some teachers begin to feel weary as Halloween approaches.
· November: It’s still a good time to approach schools at the beginning of the month, but the week before Thanksgiving is busy. Teachers and administrators rarely have time to visit with vendors.
· December: With only two or three weeks until winter break and big holidays ahead, teachers have their hands full completing the semester and maintaining discipline. No new professional development takes place at this time. Administrators are planning ahead for the spring semester.
· January: The second semester begins, and teachers bring renewed energy. It’s a good time to showcase your edtech product or offer professional development.
· February: Continued optimism makes this a favorable month to approach schools and districts. Many educators are already looking ahead to the new school year. They are formalizing new budgets.
· March: Most schools take off a week for Spring Break. State assessment begins in some locations, and no one meets with vendors during testing. You can still pitch your product, but be aware that it’s a busy time.
· April: State testing often continues this month. Many districts encourage campuses to spend their remaining money. Their funding was generated by this year’s students, so it must be spent. The central office administration usually collects any unspent funds to support summer initiatives.
· May: State testing finishes up, and then schools prepare for closing out the year.
The calendar may differ slightly for schools and districts around the country, especially if they operate on quarters or year-round. Ask school leaders and teachers for the best time to contact them.
Edtech is revamping how schools teach. In turn, schools are revamping the edtech business calendar. By getting in synch with the academic calendar, you’ll be more likely to market successfully and make a difference in instruction.