Updated: Oct 19, 2020
Maybe deep inside I fancy that I could become a real estate agent. Or maybe, its because we currently have a rental home on the market to be sold in our old hometown. Yet, wherever I turn, I see similarities in the work of teachers and real estate agents.
The comparison resonated again with me last Wednesday when Dr. Bill Davis, Philosophy Professor and Faculty Development Director for Covenant College spoke to our faculty during in-service. He suggested “the best teachers take up real estate in their students’ brains.” If you think about it, it is so true. How many times have you thought back to a teacher from your past and reuse something that they formatted into the fiber of your gray matter? Whether the teacher was stern or easy; relational or robotic, something from the very best teachers holes up in the walls of your brain and stays there like a New York City tenant in a nice rent controlled building.
Here are few other ways Teachers are like Real Estate Agents:
The best teachers take up real estate in students’ brains
Open Houses: Last week I watched our lower school teachers prepare for their open house. They did so amidst the second day of deeply involved in-service training. The anxiety level was high and the detail of the preparations were minute. Ultimately, the teachers were preparing to demonstrate that the real estate within which their precious students would spend seven hours a day for the next 178 days would be worth the investment the students’ parents had made. I had the privilege of going to two sessions, kindergarten and 2nd grade for my own children. I certainly was impressed and would have been a buyer.
DOM/T&LD: There is a statistic that every real estate agent follows very closely. It is DOM, or Days On Market. They use it to track the relative desirability of a listing. If the DOM is short, then the listing was likely highly desireable. If the DOM stretches on for many months into years, then it is likely a real estate loser. DOM can also tell a perspective listing what it can expect going into the process and help it make an informed decision on price. If the sellers want to get every dollar out of their investment, then they are likely wait out until at least the average DOM for that area to get their price. If they are a motivated seller and cannot wait the average DOM, then they know they have to drop the price to motivate buyers.
In education, a huge number for teachers is Teaching and Learning Days (T&LD). Though teachers love their summer vacation and holiday breaks, they know each day off is a lost day of teaching and learning. They also know that every assembly, every special program, every early dismissal, every homecoming spirit day, and every student illness is a lost T&LD. As a principal, this is the number that becomes a tension between me and my teachers in the same way DOM is a tension between the agent and her client. As principal, I may see a need for more enrichments and wayside teaching moments outside the classroom. I also look at the morale of the student body and may need special days to help improve it. At a Christian school with a biblical worldview, I need to incorporate things like chapel and community service days that invariably take away from T&LD’s in the teachers mind. On the other hand, teachers see their curriculum slipping through their fingers with each lost T&LD. AP teachers in particular grapple with this with a set AP Exam date.
Ultimately, the good real estate agents know that a strong property given the average DOM will fetch a fair price. Likewise, a good teacher knows that most of her students will achieve the longed for student outcomes if given enough T&LD.
Showings/Assessments: A great agent will prepare the seller for showings. Showings are when prospective buyers will come to look at the listing and decide if the home is right for them. Great teachers will prepare a student for assessments in the same way. In a sense, the teacher goes through a formative assessment checklist with the students in preparation for a bigger summative assessment like a test. In the same manner, the real estate agent will go through a punch list with the seller to make sure the home is ready for the buyers assessment. Did you clean the floors?, did you have the roof inspected?, did you rid areas of clutter?, has the yard been manicured?, etc.
Relationships Built on Trust: Sellers have to be very trusting of their agents in the same manner students need to trust their teachers to succeed. My wife and I have now been through the home selling process now five times. I am not sure there is anything as stressful to a married couple. However, a great agent can relieve a lot of the stress through the truth, hard work, constant communication/feedback and a positive optimism that is supported by an excellent track record. In the same way, students need to know their teacher is working for them. A great teacher is honest about expectations. A great teacher gives regular and persistent feedback about student work. Most of all, a great teacher encourages the student with positive optimism about outcomes through the learning process so that the student can see the finish line.
I imagine there are more analogies that could be tied in between Real Estate Agents and Teachers. If you have one, send it to me @MikeZavada. Until next time, happy learning….