By Paula Ebben

CAMBRIDGE (CBS) – Business people are often encouraged to find a mentor to help them guide their career, someone with more experience who can give them valuable advice.

Two former Massachusetts educators want teachers to have the same opportunity to share ideas and get tips from the pros, experienced teachers, so they started a company to do just that and they just got $10 million in venture capital funding.

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Jocelyn Lathers is a 5th grade teacher in upstate New York. She is getting advice from Julie Mason – a former private school teacher here in Massachusetts.

Jocelyn Lathers and Julie Mason in virtual coaching meeting (WBZ-TV)

They were matched by Cambridge-based BetterLesson, which works kind of like a dating website but for teachers and their coaches.

“It is the hardest job I’ve ever had, certainly and starting a company isn’t easy but teaching was the toughest thing and I really wanted to get teachers practical support,” said Erin Osborn, Co Founder and COO of Better Lesson.

BetterLesson is the brainchild Osborn and Alex Grodd, one-time teachers in Cambridge and Roxbury who saw first-hand what a tough and sometimes lonely job teaching can be.

Alex Grodd, Paula Ebben and Erin Osborn (WBZ-TV)

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“Teaching is a very isolating job it’s one of the few jobs where you spend your, the vast majority of your professional time with no adult interaction,” Grodd said.

Their first start-up gave teachers access to free lesson plans, then expanded to professional development coaching.

“We’re really trying to understand what are their pain points and how we can go in there and help them solve a problem, help fill a need,” Grodd said.

School districts pay BetterLesson $2500 per teacher for a year of virtual coaching. They’re expanding but right now they’re working with 1000 teachers in 20 different states.
Jocelyn and Julie have met every other week since the beginning of the school year.

Better Lesson office in Cambridge (WBZ-TV)

Jocelyn says the virtual meetings have been tremendously helpful. “There’s always a piece of feedback that I can take and implement in my classroom,” Jocelyn said.

Erin and Alex point out that school districts spend billions of dollars every year on conferences and other professional development ideas and Better Lesson can be a good addition to the mix and help teachers no matter where they are.

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Coaches can be full time or teachers can work for BetterLesson to augment their income. They hope to work with the Boston Public Schools next.

Paula Ebben