Educators are savvy when it comes to understanding the value of collaboration. Websites and blogs by generous teachers are loaded with tips and tricks to run a fun and engaging classroom. It’s simple math — two heads are better than one.
Recent Tech & Learning Innovative Leader Award winners Jeni Long and Sallee Clark, who together form the unique and inspiring partnership Jenallee, have taken collaboration to the next level through their mission to “evangelize” the use of edtech.
The Birth of “Jenallee”
Perhaps the first step in forming a perfect partnership starts with an openness to connect with others.
“We met on the first day of work seven years ago,” says Jeni Long, edtech consultant, author, and speaker. “It was an instant connection. We knew we had so much in common and we were destined to be best friends, but we had no idea where that friendship would take us!”
Connecting as friends with mutual respect and a similar mindset and attitude became a great first step in creating a powerful professional team.
“As we began to get to know each other, we realized that each of our individual visions for implementing technology use in the classroom aligned, and that we had similar passions and beliefs regarding technology,” says Sallee Clark, edtech consultant, author, and speaker. “My brain always works better when brainstorming and learning alongside someone. The power of educators working together to solve problems and meet scholars’ needs is very impactful in the world of education.”
The Benefits of A Dynamic Duo
“We always say, ‘Two brains are better than one,’” says Long. “Different perspectives are important and we believe it’s better to work together to produce a more powerful outcome.”
Indeed, splitting duties and making the most of disparate skill sets doubles the resources at hand to find the highest level of success. Jenallee’s first step in making the most of their partnership was to determine who could best shine in which area.
“We completed a Strengths Finders survey, which revealed a lot about who we are as educators and partner teachers,” says Clark. “There were some challenges when first collaborating and working together. Most of the time, we wanted to be like each other. The Strengths Finders survey taught us that we can rely on each other and leverage our unique strengths to work more effectively in serving educators. For example, we found that Jeni is strong at arranging content, communicating, and wooing people. While I am strong in ideation, strategy, and connecting with people. Our strengths complemented each other very well. When we started leveraging these different strengths we were able to create content to help teachers much more efficiently and offer a better product to our teachers.”
Knowledge is powerful. Rather than causing division, understanding their innate talents strengthened both the friendship and working relationship.
5 Steps to Create and Maintain a Partnership, According to Jenallee
- Communicate: Know one another’s passions, vision, and goals.
- Trust: Treat one another with respect, listen to each other, and lift up each other.
- Know each other's strengths: Leverage each other’s strengths to become efficient and produce an outcome that is better together.
- Checklists: “We love checklists,” say Jenallee. “It helps us stay on track, communicate, and make sure that all of our goals are being met.”
- Have FUN: This is key! “Having fun is what makes learning happen for us,” say Jenallee. “We have fun learning, planning, and creating together.”
Going Global for Innovation
What started as a friendship with common professional goals quickly blossomed into an innovation-fueled mission to put the spotlight on edtech and what it could do in the classroom.
“As Jeni and I started sharing edtech tips and tricks, we realized that many of the teachers had the same questions at different campuses,” says Clark. “It made us see that we needed a way to share this information to all of our teachers because we saw that if one teacher had a question, another teacher probably did as well. So, the Jenallee YouTube channel was born. We loved how it was serving our community of teachers and also the grand community of teachers around the world.”
The success of the Jenallee YouTube content quickly expanded into webinars, videos, social media posts, live speaking engagements, blogs, and even books.
“Our ultimate goal is to create an accessible and FUN learning experience for both educators and students,” says Long. “We firmly believe that when students are engaged in their learning, they are more likely to retain information. Making learning fun is one effective way to achieve this.”
The duo loves sharing content, ideas and solutions with a global community of educators. Bringing professional development to the next level by offering resources that are easy to understand and immediately implement is key.
“Tutorials are short, but useful,” says Clark. “We hope to empower educators with practical-use videos and ideas for making learning fun and accessible—tools they can turn around and use in their classrooms tomorrow. We have seen happy tears fall because educators have found solutions that help every student to succeed within their classrooms.”
“We’ve been overwhelmed by the positive feedback,” says Long. “Teachers consistently express how helpful our resources have been. This is our passion— their satisfaction is what brings us joy!”