Case Study, Team Building, Team Morale

Case Study: Connecting Students with Swag at Alder Graduate School of Education

Recently, had the opportunity to work with the Alder Graduate School of Education, a non-profit, higher education institute focused on training the next generation of teachers for the unique challenges of the K-12 classroom.

We talked to them about how 2020 has forced them to adapt their practices, and how they were using swag to help their students and faculty continue to feel a sense of community even while physically distant. 

Our team sat down to chat with Sophie Lo, a senior executive assistant at Alder GSE about the challenges of remote learning, the experience of using the platform, and why small acts of empathy are so important in 2020.

Can you talk about what you do at Alder GSE?

We provide a pipeline of teachers for under-served school systems (K-12) in CA. As a residency model, our students train at the school systems where they will likely be hired, so they are better equipped to make an impact and also stay long term. We’re at 20 school partners this year; we’ve doubled a lot in the last 10 years!

We integrate practice and theory, and our students can earn a teaching credential as well as a Masters in one year while also teaching in classrooms; virtually, this year.

How has the move to virtual learning changed how you use swag to engage with incoming students?

Typically, we would hand out swag at our in-person courses, which were a few times a year, and at graduation. It would simply be, “here’s swag!” from the directors and from the faculty members. We had to change that this year.

The need just kind of sprang up on us. Everybody was watching what was happening in January and through March. Then the shelter in place started. We had to think quickly. We were looking at different vendors that could package swag and distribute it for us. We also considered just putting everything together ourselves and packaging it ourselves, but that would have been a lot of extra work… was great because we couldn’t find anything else that was a one-stop-shop. And made it easy for us to make a connection with our students and faculty.

What products did you choose to send out using

T-shirts are one of the products that we used to give out, and I was happy to find out that has plenty of t-shirts! That was the welcome gift for our current cohort. It’s just nice to be able to send out something during this crazy time of 2020. It’s something small, but it says, “we’re thinking about you.”

The next thing we’re doing is notebooks for our mentor teachers, for the same reason. We have a little thing that says, “This notebook belongs to an excellent mentor teacher surviving 2020.” It’s just a nice way to remind them that we care, and we understand what they’re going through, especially during this tough year, being teachers.

What was it like using our platform?

In terms of labor, ease, and cost, I felt it was a top choice when it came to our needs. It’s just a few clicks of the button on the platform. The t-shirts were easy to send out because the giveaway form allows individuals to choose sizes, and the swag platform tracks what needs to be backordered and reordered. That saved us, internally, hours and hours of just work trying to pivot from being in person and giving out swag and products to a more digitized version.

It has made a big impact for us when we were trying to figure out everything else that had to be pivoted so quickly. It’s just been something fun that I like to work on. Everyone loves to receive swag!