Sheldon:

Welcome, advocates, to another episode of the Leading Equity Podcast, a podcast that focuses on supporting educators with the tools and resources necessary to ensure equity at their schools. Today's special guest is Mr. Winston Daley. So without further ado, Winston, thank you so much for joining us today.

Winston Daley:

Sheldon, thank you. I'm glad to be here, man. I really appreciate it. Happy to be on the podcast.

Sheldon:

Pleasure's mine. Pleasure is so mine. I'm really excited about today's topic because you're going to debunk a lot of comments, questions, and justifications that I get a lot with the work that I do, working with school districts and working with principals as well, leadership and things like that. But before we get into today's topic, I'd love for you to share a little bit about yourself and what you currently do.

Winston Daley:

Yeah, I'll be brief. Just how I got here, I always tell folks I come to this work not as an educator, I come to this as a parent. My involvement in schools, as well as with young people, came as a parent and as someone who wanted more for kids [inaudible 00:00:58] grow up the way I did. So I am currently, I formally was a financier, we'll say that. Worked in some of the bigger banks here in Boston. Left that to work with kids, and that led me to the nonprofit space and now the tech space, building Agogos.

               Agogos, in shorthand, you can say Agogos, the idea is to be the LinkedIn for Black and Brown educators. And it's the space where I got frustrated with dealing with our district here and our lack of being able to increase our educators of color as the demographics in our town change, and saying, how did you find your educators, and them saying, well, we don't know how we find them. They're just kind of going out, throwing darts at the board, hoping you get good folks coming through the door.

               And I thought that, you know, can I build something using technology, using things that are out there that would make it easier not only on the schools and the recruiting space, but also on the teachers, in terms of presenting themselves, creating that digital portfolio and profile that grows with you, that shares more about who you are. As much as we were online in the last three years, we learned how to build our brand, learned more about each other to connect differently using technology, and I wanted to bring that in terms of increasing our pipeline, as well as putting our teachers and schools in a better space.

               So Agogos is a place where schools can now reach out to Black and Brown teachers for open opportunities, as well as the place where now Black and Brown educators can find places for them to work, as well as in the future, a community for them to be able to connect and talk to each other.

Sheldon:

So folks that are listening, if you are a school leader, you're a district leader, if you are in a position where you have the authority to hire new staff on your team or whatever that looks like, what I'm hearing is from time to time, people say, oh, we can't find qualified staff of color. We can't find this, or we can't find that. Or this is just how it is. We're in rural such and such state, and we just, we don't know how to access things.

               And I typically say, hey, look into your HBCUs. Tap into your Hispanics serving the institutions, tap into your tribal colleges. If you're being intentional, if you're saying, this is what we want to do, this is our mission, this is our goal, we want our staff to look like our student population, because we know statistically, our students' population is over 50% of color, yet our teaching staff doesn't reflect that same thing. So I want to reiterate, folks, if you are saying, I can't find them, here is a resource that I am providing or at least highlighting for you to be able to get those opportunities.

               Now, the term or the name Agogos, I've never heard that. I'm just curious. Give me a little bit of background. Does that mean something? Where does that word come from?

Winston Daley:

Yeah, so Agogos, A-G-O-G-O-S, that is the Greek word meaning leader, and it is the root word of pedagogy, meaning leader of children. So when I started the company, I wanted it to be something that was a little snappy, that stuck in your head. The original idea was Goji, but that was taken, you know, goji berries and everything. So I went with Agogos. So if you think of pedagogy and the way we talk about where we're leading teachers in pedagogy and curriculum, Agogos is the place for our leaders.

               And that's how I feel about why we need more educators of color in the classroom. It's like that's where our kids learn about leaders. That's where they learn to see themselves. And if we're talking about less than 20% of our educators are folks of color, and as you just said, 50% of the kids are, how do I know what it is to be a leader when I go into the school, if I don't see anyone there that represents that? If I don't see anyone that looks like me or looks like the folks that I see at home, I don't envision myself in that leadership position ever. And so that's where the name came from.

Sheldon:

All right. Thank you. Now, walk me through the process. Let's say I am a principal, and I am looking for a math teacher and I prefer to find a math teacher of color. When I jump on Agogos, or what would I need to do if I'm a principal and I need to advertise for this position? How does that work?

Winston Daley:

Yeah. So I'll say simply right now for you and everyone that's listening, where we are right now is we are an early stage tech company. So you think of us as Facebook back when you needed an .edu, or Gmail back when you needed that little special invite before you got to go into Gmail, right?

               So when Agogos, we launched in May with our new version, and we are free through the summer, so when you log onto agogos.io, you have two columns. You can log in as a teacher or log in as an institution. You sign up as an institution, you go through the profiles, there are certain questions about what makes your school a place where educators of color would want to work? Not only is it a space for you to find them, but why should they come and work for you?

Sheldon:

Why did you put that? Can I stop you there for a second? Because that is a good question. And so what made you, what was the motivation to ask those kind of questions?

Winston Daley:

So I always had it on our roadmap for what we would ask schools along the way, but the more I talked to teachers, the more it kept coming up, and I knew it was something I needed to be out there on the first version. More teachers said, "Hey, I don't only want to know about the schools and what they're looking for, I want to know why I should work there. I don't want to walk into a school on day one and I'm the only one, or they're hostile to the way that I teach, or it's not a place where I can develop as an educator. It's not a place where I have support in administration. It's not a place where I can ask questions. And then after a year, year and a half to two years, I'm not at my best. I'm not the best educator I can be. This is not a space that's conducive to my building, and thus it's not going to be conducive to the students that I'm teaching."

               So they wanted that question asked, and I understand it, because we're talking about, what are the numbers? We're at 300,000, 400,000, folks are saying educators that are going to leave. Not only exhaustion from the pandemic and what they've done with students, not only exhaustion from the outside forces with parents and politics, but also, they don't feel supported by the folks they work with.

               As a parent, I know for three years I heard very little educator voice in what should happen with our students. I heard a lot of stuff from other folks, a lot of folks who were not in that classroom, a lot of folks that are not in the field. And so that's why they want to know, what is it about your school that is different? We know how in demand our educators are, but what is it about your space? What is different about your space? Why are you here?

               I've spoken to school districts who say, you know, five years ago, my district was 95, 97% white students, smooth sailing. But now I have Brazilian students. I have African students, I have Puerto Rican students. Here on the east coast, I have Dominican students. My demographics have changed. The people I'm serving have now changed. So thus, the people who serve them need to change. And I'm not sure how to do it.

Sheldon:

Okay. So essentially, if you are on the administrative side of this, the institutional side, there is a vetting process.

Winston Daley:

Yes.

Sheldon:

So I'm sorry, I cut you off. So tell me more.

Winston Daley:

No, no. It's a conversation.

Sheldon:

Those are some questions. So those are the questions that the individual will have to fill out, basically saying why should you be able to post on our job board? So once they get past, so what's next after that?

Winston Daley:

Yeah, so you go in and that's just part of your profile. So when a teacher logs in, they look at the job you've posted, they then click on your profile and say, what is it about this school? You're going to list all the information you need about your school, why teachers should be looking for you, as well as what is it about your community that is different? How do you develop your educators? Why should they click on this job and send a resume to you and even volunteer themselves for a first round interview, whichever way that's going to be? So that changes it there.

               And once you go in, you go on, you create your jobs. And then you also have, beyond putting up your jobs that are then stuck to your profile as well, they're on our job board, now you can also search through the educators that are on the board. You could sort by state, sort by distance, and say, hey, I'm in Massachusetts, let's say I'm in Massachusetts and I'm looking for teachers in ELA. You put that sort in and all those teachers come up.

               And if you go through their profiles and you see someone there that looks like they could be a great fit, you can send them a message and say, I am from XYZ school district. Loved your profile. We're looking for a teacher with your skill set and your background. Would you be interested in having a conversation and coming in and meeting us and learning more about our district? So the idea behind it is that I felt the hiring process was too passive in education. And I'm coming from the private sector. I worked in finance for a number of years. And the private sector is go, go, go, and it's about aggression, and it's about not sort of sitting back and hoping things come to you.

               So when schools are just sitting back and getting resumes and hoping they get resumes, and saying, oh, we only got 10 resumes for this one job, but we have 400 resumes for this other, I want them to have a space where they say, okay, we're going to go out. We're going to find people. We're going to be on the hunt. We're in the marketplace. We're looking for the best educators. We're bringing in as many great qualified people as possible. And we're bringing in folks of color, and we're intentional about it. As you've stated many times, we're intentional about it. We're on these websites because we are looking for the best and we're looking for people with different skill sets, not just the ones who got the best degrees. People bring different things to the table and different things to the classroom, and that's what we're trying to build in the staff.

Sheldon:

Got you. Now, did you say that you could DM those potential candidates? Tell me a little bit more about that.

Winston Daley:

You go onto someone's profile, you can look at their resume, look at what they put up at their profile. And only institutions can do this right now. You go in and you say, I'm from this school district, loved your profile, love what you shared. Here's the job that we have posted. Please check us out. And you can start messaging back and forth. That's a private message between the institution as well as the teacher.

Sheldon:

That's awesome. Okay. So okay, that makes sense. And you say right now it's free and through, through when?

Winston Daley:

We're free through the summer. So yeah, there's not going to be, you know, I'm glad you brought this up. I had a conversation today with an organization that said, "Well, you're not going to charge me after like 90 days or something like that, right?" I said, no, all the folks that we're talking to right now is we're early stage. So we're looking for champions and supporters. So when you are on our site, I'm not going to ask you to throw in your credit card information and then come October, I'm running up a bill.

               We're going to talk about what each institution needs around pricing. Because if you're posting three jobs a year, your pricing is certainly not going to be the same as someone who's posting 50. So all of our early supporters and champions, the folks that see where we're going and what our mission is, we're going to have supportive pricing, figuring out what they need individually as a district, and long term as well. And it's the funny thing in tech is that sometimes you can see the finish line better than you can get out of the starting blocks.

Sheldon:

Yeah.

Winston Daley:

The idea is that we are going to be able to see your activity and what you're posting and find out what's not working for you as an institution. If you've posted 15 jobs and you're not getting a lot of traction, I want to be able to tell you why you're not getting traction. I want to be able to talk to our educators and find out why you're not getting traction.

               We're going to be asking for folks to sign three year contracts in the long term because it's going to take about that long for us to figure out what's going on with your hiring. How do we actively get you to change and get you to the place where you want to be? What are the organizations we can connect you to? What are our teachers saying at the same time about why they're not applying? Because it's going to take at least that amount of time to really change your practices and have it really stick and sustain.

               So the idea is that the more you post, the more you're on the site, the more information we have, the more feedback we get from our teachers, then the better the ecosystem is around hiring long term. We're not just going to be a place where you post a job and you don't hear from us again and you just kind of go about your day.

Sheldon:

Okay. Now let's say I'm graduating from, I'm going to just call out my alma mater, Oakwood University in Huntsville, Alabama. Shout out to the HBCUs out there. But let's just say I'm a teacher candidate. I'm about to graduate. Walk me through the process on the other end, if I'm a potential teacher.

Winston Daley:

Very similar. You log onto the site, you click educator, and you start to build out your profile. Currently you'll upload your resume as a PDF. That's only readable by institutions. And it's very easy to send. It's funny, because a lot of the schools have asked for that. They said, we just want a PDF. That's what we need. We just need something that's simple that we can't edit, that we can look at very quickly.

               And then you also share, what is it about a school environment that's best for you? What's the place you're looking for as an educator? And the idea is when folks create their profiles, that they share who they are, they share more about themselves. You can say I'm an HBCU alum. I'm a member of this fraternity. I believe in equity among students. Here are the books that inform my work. Here are dissertations I've written. Here are things that are really important to me.

               And then later on, you'll be able to upload your lesson plans and also be able to talk to the community. But it's about a more, I wouldn't say personal, because you've still got to meet folks before, when you interview them, but it's a more, a warmer way to apply for a position.

Sheldon:

Okay.

Winston Daley:

Trying to get rid of that cold, and I think some of this gets informed by me, when I did my career switch. When you try to explain to folks why what you did before fits in with what you're doing now, and you want to have that warm conversation about I am here because this is important to me and here are the things that work for me, and I just don't want to send you my blank cover letter that looks like every other cover letter. I don't want to send you my resume that's in the same format that every university's told people to put their resumes in. This is who I am. This is what I bring to the classroom.

Sheldon:

Is it free for candidates, teacher candidates?

Winston Daley:

It's always going to be free for teachers. Yes. Always going to be free.

Sheldon:

Okay. Now, man, this is pretty cool, man. First of all, thank you for doing what you're doing, man. A big shout out to Winston. If I had some hand claps, I would give you that because this is very important. I think this is much needed. It has been needed. It's always been something that we need to have. I mean, when we look at our stats, as far as what our teaching force looks like, I always say we need to get more teachers of color into our education, into our classrooms and things like that.

               And then when we think about what's happening right now, there's a lot of, like you said, there's a big exodus when it comes to our educators, but there are some teachers or folks that are looking for teaching positions, and especially folks of color that are looking for teaching positions, and they just don't really know where to go besides your Indeeds, your Monsters, your basic job boards.

               But having something that's dedicated specific to folks of color that are looking for work, and then seeing those jobs posted, that's, to me, it sounds very positive that okay, this school, this district, wherever, they're intentional, because they're on this website, they're paying money or whatever it is, they're posting in order to find folks like me. I think that this is so valued. Thank you. Thank you so much for what you're doing, Winston.

Winston Daley:

Thank you, man. I appreciate it. And I just want it to work, man. I want it to exist. We talked earlier, just, I think it should exist in the world. And so if I'm the person that's able to start it and get it to the place where I want it to be, it should exist, right? It should be a place where our educators can find each other. Think of all the things that have been created in the different social media platforms. I go onto Twitter, and there's hashtag Black teacher, hashtag Teacher Twitter. And folks have built these great presence. Same thing on Facebook.

               And I say, well, why can't we all just be in one place and find each other? Because it seems like depending on where you are, you may not know someone on the other side is doing similar work. You could be running a great nonprofit in one state and not know about the work that's going on in this other space. And I want it all to be in one place, right? The amplification of the voice, the amplification of a network, to make it easier for that kid that's coming out of whatever university and doesn't know how to get into the classroom and says, oh, I'm going to go on Agogos and put a note of, "Hey, I just graduated. I would love to start working in the classroom." And so immediately some principals start messaging them, say, "Hey, I love ... Come and talk to us."

               And what's even one of the greater points is I've spoken to a lot of Black school leaders who have said the way they got their teaching force is just from their personal network, where people met them and said, I want to work for you. And they're like, you're great with kids, you're great in your subject, well, you can become a great teacher. And that kind of support is the [inaudible 00:17:42]. It's a similar support to what we're talking about by having our teachers in the classroom is important. Having our folks in the leadership positions is also important, so folks can see that when you're coming into the space, and that they're going to have a different sort of lead up, a different runway, a different entry point to the classroom.

               And so folks are saying they've never, never thought about teaching, but they met someone who's a school leader who said, no, this is the place for you. And they trusted them and they believed them. And then the idea of trust is so important in this space because why are folks walking away? They don't trust the institutions they're a part of, right?

Sheldon:

Yeah. So first of all, again, I would say this. Folks that listen to this show, this show is called Leading Equity. So my audience, they're about this life. So whatever position they're in, if they're DEI, diversity, equity, inclusion officers, if they're superintendents, if they're principals, this is an opportunity, folks, that again, if you listen to this show, you know what kind of show I have.

               And if you're looking for resources, if you're looking for an option to recruit and be intentional with your efforts to recruiting more staff of color into your institution, I definitely, and I'll leave links in the show notes, folks, so you can learn more about Agogos, but I just, I mean, I'm on it right now. I am looking at the job board. I am seeing several jobs that are available, especially if you're on the east coast, if you're in Massachusetts. So where are you primarily seeing a lot of the states or areas for jobs?

Winston Daley:

Greatest traction so far is like, you know, I'm from Boston. I moved here when I was 10 years old from Jamaica. I've been in Boston most of the way. Got to shout out Boston. I know a lot of folks don't think there's any Black folks here, but we're here.

Sheldon:

I live in Idaho, man, so hey.

Winston Daley:

I know. You've got it worse than me, right?

Sheldon:

So hey, I'll take some Boston at this point, but yeah, I hear you. I hear you.

Winston Daley:

Yeah. So being there, I'm going to have a lot of traction on the east coast, particularly Boston and the surrounding cities and counties and states, tri-state, northeast, a lot of that. But we're launching national, with the idea being that we want Agogos to not have a local feel, a local feel, excuse me. I think in education, it's really different depending on your zip code, and we want to tear down some of those barriers. So there are a lot of folks who want to move across country, who want to change where they, you know, who need to move family. And that interstate travel for education is tough.

               We want to open up those opportunities for folks. We want schools from everywhere to be able to post. We want the schools of education from everywhere to be able to post, and kids that are leaving universities from everywhere to post. I know not everyone can work in Boston because of how expensive it is here. I understand that. But I want to have the opportunities that fit for each person. So we're national. Our best traction so far has been Boston, Indiana, and I'll say sort of the DMV, going into the Ohio area as well.

Sheldon:

Yeah, I see Ohio in here. I mean, these are some good jobs, man. I'm seeing high school biology teacher, high school math, high school Spanish, middle school, all grades, family engagement coordinator class, first grade, geometry. You've got counselor, bilingual teacher, principal. There are various positions. ELL. I mean, I can go down a list. There's so much here. That's just a snippet of what's available for you. Are there plans to branch also into higher ed, as well?

Winston Daley:

Later on. Higher ed is kind of its own monster. Pre-K to 12 is tough enough. But absolutely, would love to be able to connect professors with places like [inaudible 00:21:42] and getting their foot in the door. You know how tough that is. But that's absolutely in the plans. And we're going to have to have partnerships with universities anyway. So I think it's an easy transition in that we need university partnerships in the undergrad space, as well as the education space, and not everyone that goes into the classroom is an education major. So universities are going to be a part of Agogos even if they're not part of our hiring plans. I think that transition from saying, hey, now let's partner and get you some great, you know, maybe some folks have been in the classroom for 20 years and they're ready to go into the professorship. I think that's going to be a pretty easy synergy. But it's down the road, but yes, it's on the roadmap. It's in the works.

               I'm glad you brought up the job boards too, and sort of the depth of the positions. One thing we want to have is like, it's not just educators, right? It's your coaches. It's your paraprofessionals. It's everyone that's going to come into your school and interact with your students. Hoping to bring back some student teaching positions, as well. I know student teaching has really dropped off. We don't have as many opportunities there. But having those, also schools that have fellowship positions for younger teachers, to really give them another runway into the classroom, we want to have those on there.

               And there's also organizations that want teachers in a consultation role. They want to pay them five, $10,000 to consult. They want to have them come work for them in the summer in some private sector roles. So we want to have all of those opportunities there, to give our teachers as many options as possible to put some money in their pockets.

Sheldon:

That's what's up, man. I can't thank, you know, again, I get asked, or I'll hear it all the time. Like, we can't find anybody. I get this all the time. And I'm always, oh, you need to do this, do that. But like here, I can literally from now on, I'm literally going to say, go to Agogos. There it is. No excuses, no excuses. If you listen to this show, if you subscribe to my newsletter, folks know how I get down. This is the work that we do, and this is really important. So again, shout out to you. Is there anything that I didn't ask you that you want to add to the conversation?

Winston Daley:

I think the conversation I would have is about talking to teachers. And I think the teachers are the tougher sell, I'll be honest, when they say, how do I get onto a new platform? And it takes another level of trust, of saying, okay, why would I join here? And I would say to the teachers, join us early and be a part of the vision. Your input will help build Agogos. And it's not just a place where we're building to become the tech unicorn or the next thing that's on the cover of a magazine.

               We're building this to be an ecosystem that's long lasting, where no matter what the resource or help you need as a teacher, this is the place that will find it for you. If you can't find it in a click, we'll make sure you get it. And that's the thing we're building here. Even if you're not looking for an opportunity, you should absolutely be looking to be a part of a network and a part of a ... You know, we're trying to pull every possible strand of education into one place. So come and be a part of that hub, and whatever strand you're bringing with you, know that it will help someone else along the way. And then someone else will help you.

               And as we're talking about building out that pipeline, it's having the educators that are there, that are saying, okay, this is what we're doing on Agogos. This is the stuff, hey, you can email Winston directly. Tell him the things that we want to have. Here's the PD that's going to be going up on Agogos [inaudible 00:25:06]. Here are the programs that someone's going to be running. Here is Sheldon linking to his newest episode of Leading Equity. And this person that's on Agogos is going to be his next guest, and these things are going to be coming out. And so all the stuff that we're doing around places that were not built for us can be done here with all of us in the room.

Sheldon:

Nice. Woo. Let me tell you, bro, this has been a really good conversation, and I really appreciate it. And my format of the show is typically how-to tips. So if we were to call this a how-to tip, I would just say how to intentionally recruit more teachers of color into your institution. That's what I would call it. If we have some folks that want to connect with you, Winston, and get more information, what are the best ways?

Winston Daley:

Yeah, hopefully you can drop it in the show notes too, but you can catch me on Twitter at WinstonAgogos, W-I-N-S-T-O-N A-G-O-G-O-S. You catch me on LinkedIn, Winston Daley. Go to the website, www.agogos.io. You can sign up there. You can send me a message there as well. You can register to be a part of our newsletter. The newsletter goes out every month with kind of the happenings in education, as well as new job postings, new updates to the site, letting folks know where we stand. Email, as well. If you want to email me, it's [email protected] I'm around. I'm available.

               And the idea is to really just build our support, as many folks as possible that are giving us feedback, that are championing us, folks like yourself. Folks won't even know we didn't even know each other before today, right?

Sheldon:

Yeah.

Winston Daley:

You said, you know what, Winston? I love what you're doing. Come on the pod, let's have a conversation. And that's where great things can build. This is a part of what we're talking about, building out that network effect of people who support and people who can really grow with each other and build something great. And that's our plan.

Sheldon:

Shout out to Corey McCarthy, by the way, for the-

Winston Daley:

Shout out to Corey.

Sheldon:

Yeah. Got to give him love. But yeah, again, once I learned about the platform and everything, I said, oh yeah, you've got to come on the show, man. We've got to have you on. So now as far as apps, how do I access the community?

Winston Daley:

Yeah, so right now the community piece is oncoming. Right now we're focusing on that job portal. The website is up, visible on your desktop, and it's also incredibly mobile friendly. Consider it a web app. You go on it on your phone. Everything is available there for you to upload as well. A dedicated app will be down the line. I don't want to roll out too many features for folks and get folks overloaded, you know? So we're going baby step at a time, but it's going to be some quick baby steps as we get rolling. Think of it as baby steps down a mountain.

Sheldon:

I hear you.

Winston Daley:

We're going to be rolling.

Sheldon:

I got you.

Winston Daley:

So that's where we are. So it's visible on mobile, incredibly mobile friendly, similar to just logging into your Facebook account online. And then the mobile, the dedicated mobile app will be down the line. And the reason we did it on desktop is most folks in schools, when they're doing the hiring, they're on their desk.

Sheldon:

Yeah. That's true. Hopefully the teachers aren't on the job site, but yes, yes. We're assuming it's the principals, and yeah, okay, I got you, I got you.

Winston Daley:

Principals, HR, the occasional teacher that may be-

Sheldon:

The occasional teacher on a lunch break, on a lunch break.

Winston Daley:

[inaudible 00:28:30], you know? Just seeing what's out there.

Sheldon:

Yeah. All right, well, Winston, it has truly been a pleasure. I appreciate your time. Thank you so much.

Winston Daley:

Hey, thank you, Sheldon, man. Really appreciate this. And this is just a big, big, big look, man. I appreciate you, brother.

Sheldon:

Oh yeah, my pleasure.

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