Amber Harper, founder and CEO of Burned-In Teacher (Career Path)

Amber Harper helps teachers use technology to make their jobs more efficient.

How would you describe Burned-In Teacher?

I started Burned-In Teacher after a dozen years of teaching first through fifth grades in Noble County in order to serve a different type of student: burned-out, frustrated, left-behind educators who want to catch up and feel fulfilled, efficient and effective in their classrooms and schools.

I have Google Trainer and educational technology certification and extensive experience with teaching, teacher burnout and recovery from teacher burnout, which I call teacher burn-in.

I serve through speaking engagements, school workshops, one-on-one coaching and small-group programs.

How did you start Burned-In Teacher?

It started with blogging and podcasting on teacher burnout recovery. Speaking out on the subject and sharing what I have learned about it led to requests for coaching from some of the teachers who were following my posts and podcasts.

Learning how to accomplish more in less time as a teacher through the use of educational technology was an important part of my own teacher burnout recovery process.

But a lot of teachers who are feeling left behind because they are unfamiliar with the technology don’t feel like they have time to learn how to use it while dealing with all the other demands that come with teaching. And this is where I can help.

I help them leverage that technology to make their jobs more efficient, more automated, so that they can go home and be with their families because a lot of times there’s a lack of that work-life balance.

How did you learn to incorporate EdTech into your own teaching while handling your day-to-day teaching responsibilities?

I was lucky enough to go to a Google Summit in Franklin, Indiana. It was a Google Apps for Education conference.

Google has tools, they’re called G Suite tools now, things like Google slides, Google docs, Google forms. There’s a few different digital tools that students can use to create and collaborate.

I was inspired by the people at the conference who were leading the sessions, the keynotes. My passion was re-ignited.

I saw a way to use these tools to help my kids to be more creative and collaborative, therefore allowing me to facilitate more of a discussion with them. Rather than being that sage on the stage, I could now be the guide on the side.

I had always been told to be the facilitator, but I really didn’t know how to do that. And I saw real power in these tools because they could create new and innovative ways of teaching and I wanted to teach teachers how to do that.

I wanted to be that person leading the session. And that light that teachers say they love to see in their students’ eyes when they learn something new, I wanted to see that in teachers. Because a lot of times teachers are just going through the motions. They’re tired. They’re frustrated.

Often when these tools are introduced to schools and classrooms, some teachers are not comfortable with that technology.

So just like I serve teachers that are struggling with burnout, I also support those teachers who are really struggling with that understanding of, “Where does this technology belong in my classroom, where does it belong in my life, why am I being asked to do this?”

What is ahead for the development of Burned-In Teacher and how do you plan to use the $500 that came with winning the Women’s Economic Opportunity Center Founders Cup Award?

I will use the money to pay my new email marketing specialist. She’s going to help me write emails to my subscriber list.

How did you find out about the Northeast Indiana Innovation Center, the WEOC there and its diverse entrepreneur accelerator program? What has the program done for you?

When my neighbor around the corner asked how things were going, I told her they were going well but I just felt really alone and isolated and overwhelmed and I didn’t know what to do next. And she asked if I’d ever met Leslee Hill, director of the WEOC.

She introduced us through Facebook messenger. We arranged to meet and she told me about the program that was about to start and it seemed like one of those things that was just meant to be.

Because we’re a small group, Leslee is able to really guide us in the direction that best fits our online businesses. All of us are doing very different things, but we all have an online component.

These ladies can relate to that excitement of getting another follower, another person on the email list, and to some of those things that may seem kind of silly to others.

And when you feel like your friends and family just kind of feel like you’re playing store, it’s those people who help you to take what you’re doing seriously, who understand that this is real, that these are real people that you’re impacting.

What do you like about the work that you’re doing?

I had been asked several times at my first school corporation to lead, to teach teachers, and it always lit me up, it always got me so excited.

And when I learned how to use educational technology and saw these people at the Google Apps for Education conference leading these sessions, helping to inspire other educators, I just knew that that was something I could really sink my teeth into and really get passionate about.

I like the freedom of coaching and consulting. One of the reasons I decided not to become a nonprofit was because I wanted to do what I knew was best for my teachers.

I wanted to have full and total control over the decisions that I make to serve my teachers. I didn’t want to have to run it by anybody.

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