This has been a school year unlike any other. From lockdowns and Zoom school to tiny distanced in-person classes, education has been erratic, chaotic, and downright frustrating for parents and kids alike. Some research also suggests that pandemic schooling will have a great cost, both socially and academically.
In New York and Connecticut, two brothers, both with kids, worried about balancing the safety and the studying. So, Nat and Ben Brogadir created The Teacher Marketplace (TTM), an online resource for finding just the right tutor for your kid, anywhere in the country, at a cost that fits a parent’s budget.
“It was really out of our own necessity. Neither of us could really fathom the idea of marching our kids back into school after Labor Day as we had socially distanced all summer long. It wasn’t a natural feeling,” Nat tells Parentology. “Whether you had kids in private school in New York (Ben’s) or public school in Connecticut (mine), there were no good alternative solutions to what was being offered.”
Until recently, data comparing academic gains or losses between 2020 and 2021 was lacking. Now, patterns are emerging, and the concerns were legitimate. The Brookings Institute found that, in 2020, “the math achievement of students in 2020 was about 5 to 10 percentile points lower compared to same-grade students the prior year.”
With even family learning pods being difficult to create because there was a lack of families to host and teachers to teach, the brothers found a goal: Make tutoring accessible for everyone, at every price point.
The Teacher Marketplace: An Educational Airbnb
The usual way to find a tutor involves asking friends who they use, or finding a local company and then setting up tutoring appointments. TTM offers listings for all types of teachers ranging from pre-k to college prep. You find the listing you like, make contact with the teacher/tutor, then book and pay through the platform. The teacher keeps 100% of their pay and TTM charges the family a small fee for the service, making them the connector rather than the employer.
Finding teachers to participate was surprisingly “organic,” Nat notes. The brothers used friends, then Facebook and LinkedIn, to get the word out. “We would put up job postings that would pretty much promote TTM — set your own pay, your own hours, both in-person and/or remote. The response was wildly successful.”
Another key aspect: Teachers set their own pay requirements, which expands tutoring access.
“Teachers set their own terms,” Ben tells Parentology. “We have some charging as little as minimum wage and others charging premium pricing, catering to the upper class. We built this marketplace for every family. Regardless of economic status, and you can find incredibly affordable teachers.”
Plus, teachers come from varied backgrounds and experiences. There are public and private school educators, tenured or retired teachers, substitutes and those with a specialty focus, teachers with advanced degrees, and full full-time tutors.
“We really have a great breadth of experience on our platform, which gives families a lot of options,” Ben explains.
TTM and Non-Profit Educators for Excellence
TTM is a for-profit company, but their non-profit partner is Educators for Excellence (E4E), which receives 10% of TTM’s profits. Founded by public school teachers, E4E works to identify issues that impact schools, create solutions to these challenges, and advocate for policies and programs that give all students access to a quality education.
With more than 7,000 teachers already on TTM, with specialties ranging from math to languages to art, finding extra help for your child is easier than ever. And Nat feels the need for this help is here to stay.
“It’s absolutely a long-term necessity,” he says. “We grew up in an educational ecosystem where private tutors/teaching were extremely expensive and had to be booked out weeks in advance. Similar to how Airbnb let consumers make primary/secondary income and set their own rates, we bring that model to the teaching world. If you have an hour between school and soccer practice, a student should be able to log in and book extra help with a few clicks.”