We sat down with BetterLesson CEO Matt Kennard for a conversation about high-quality professional learning, creating equitable classrooms, HQIM, and what makes BetterLesson different. Watch the video, or read the full interview below!


Why do you believe in BetterLesson?

You know, one of the things about the education technology world is we talk a lot about tech, but we don’t talk about the human side of it. And at the end of the day, education remains a human interaction.

The reason I believe that Better Lesson is the best in the world at what we do is because of the passionate group of humans that work here that have really taken to heart the idea that we’re gonna use a multi-modal approach to meeting educators where they are, and helping them create that amazing human interaction with their students. And whether it’s a district leader, or a principal, or a classroom educator, we’re able to meet you with coaching or workshops or Learning Walks or asynchronous tools that help you move from exactly where you are today to the outcome you’re hoping to reach. And so for me, I believe in BetterLesson because what we’re doing is helping humans help other humans in a way that I think is unmatched.

How would you describe BetterLesson?

Describing BetterLesson is starting with the amazing group of people that work here. We have a number of folks who are either ex-educators or folks who found their way to this industry, who all believe that equity for students, great outcomes for students, and support that’s scalable and job embedded for educators have to be the non-negotiables of our education system. So at BetterLesson, we really believe in bringing the right type of outcome-driven high quality professional learning to meet educators exactly where they sit to drive the outcomes that they’re hoping for for their students.

You know, I think the unique part about BetterLesson is how we grew up. We grew up as a lesson plan business. We grew up with the idea that high quality instructional materials and the ability to teach them should be universal for all educators. And as we’ve grown into the K12 professional development space, we’ve brought that ethos with us. And so everything we do is designed around achieving an outcome and helping the educator at any level, be it district leader, classroom educator, instructional coach, principal, AP–making sure that they have the right tools and supports to achieve the educational outcomes for their students. And we’re so proud to be able to do that every day.

Why should schools & districts invest in their educators?

For me, we talk a lot about investing in students, but if you’re gonna invest in students, you have to actually invest in the folks who are gonna make the magic happen in a classroom, in a building, in a district. And for someone who came from outside of the educational world, it’s always been so confusing to me that we have even had to question whether or not we’re going to provide adequate professional learning to help educators feel supported and successful in the classroom. In every other industry, we figured this out. And so our hope is that we are thinking about educators in the same vein as professionals with incredibly difficult jobs, who need job-embedded just in time PD that can help support them in their journey.

What if I’m hesitant to outsource my coaching?

If you’re hesitant to try an external vendor, the first thing I’d say to you is come try us out and see what we do. We work with hundreds of districts throughout the country, and it would be our honor to get to show you our experiences, to give you access to other partners of ours throughout the country, and have them talk about the transformative nature of BetterLesson’s professional learning. Our goal is that we are judged by our actions and not the words we speak, and we think that the work we do says enough to make you convinced to give it a try.

What if I don’t want to participate in virtual coaching?

You know, it’s very rare in any industry that you get an opportunity to do coaching with someone who’s sat in the seat that you’ve sat in and can really give you both impartial and critical feedback that helps you grow. And I would say to anyone who’s hesitant to try coaching is–give it a shot. And I think what you’ll find is an educator on the other side of that table who wants nothing more than to see you be successful. And so, you know, I believe that coaching is one of the most transformative and personalized things that we can do to help someone on their development pathway. And, we really hope that you’ll try it as well.

Where does BetterLesson fit into the narrative of HQIM?

You know, HQIM doesn’t work without high quality professional learning. The instructional materials that we’ve created over the last fifteen to twenty years are incredible. They’re also incredibly rigorous, and they require pedagogical moves that need training and support in order to work. And that support isn’t just at the classroom educator level. That’s at every level of our education system in a district. And so we really believe that partnering these rigorous and wonderful materials with the right type of training and support to make it possible to get the richness out of them, has to be a non negotiable for the implementation of high

How does BetterLesson help create more equitable and accessible classrooms?

We’ve made this massive shift into high quality instructional materials, and we know that rigorous materials that are put in front of all students is a key equity driver. But alongside that, you have to have an empathetic teacher who is skilled in delivering that rigorous material. You need to have principals and instructional coaches and district leaders who are skilled at setting the environment for the test and learn required to successfully implement high quality instructional materials. We think a lot about teaching here, and teaching is where content meets craft and professional learning is how you help enable every level of the education system that’s there to support students, institute those rigorous materials with fidelity, and be able to be an empathetic leader who can meet those students exactly where they are.

What is your opinion on high quality professional learning vs. professional development?

We try to be disciplined about using professional learning as opposed to professional development because we feel like professional development harkens back to the days of one off edutainment or one off PD. Right? Where you come in for a day and it’s not the type of long term successful arc of learning that is about growing the skill set of every level of the education system. Professional learning here at BetterLesson is outcome driven. It’s multi-modal. It’s job-embedded, and it’s there just in time to help support educators on their journey. And so we really think that professional learning is an arc, and that’s why we like to talk about it that way.

What is BetterLesson’s goal?

Our goal here at BetterLesson is to help educators, regardless of where they are, achieve that goal of a great education for every student who walks into a classroom. And so we have challenged ourselves to work night and day to meet educators where they are, regardless of where they sit in the country, and will continue to do so as long as there’s kids to educate and educators to support.