‘Two Screens for Teachers’ to supply extra monitors in Seattle and puts out call for help in other cities

The two-screen setup of an elementary school teacher in Seattle. (Photo courtesy of Two Screens for Teachers)

Remote teaching is about to get a little bit easier for thousands of teachers in Seattle Public Schools. The nonprofit organization “Two Screens for Teachers” announced Tuesday that it’s purchasing a second computer monitor for every teacher who needs one, and plans to deliver about 3,000 monitors at a value of around $430,000.

Started by a small group of Seattle startup veterans, Two Screens for Teachers aims to boost teacher productivity through added technology, helping to make remote instruction less stressful during the ongoing pandemic.

Matt Lerner and Mike Mathieu are behind the idea. They previously co-founded Walk Score, a Seattle startup that sold to Redfin in 2014. Their hope is that their latest cause will spread beyond Seattle and they can inspire techies in other cities to purchase monitors for the thousands of teachers who need them.

PREVIOUSLY: Seattle startup vets launch ‘Two Screens for Teachers’ effort to help improve remote instruction

“I’ve spent my career in tech on two screens and can’t imagine working without them,” Lerner said in a news release. “During the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve asked our teachers to become tech experts, on top of doing the crucial job of educating our children. A second screen lets teachers see their students on one screen and their lesson plans on the other. This is a simple productivity solution that people in tech centers like Seattle take for granted.”

“Having two monitors is incredibly helpful for teaching,” Seattle elementary school teacher Jannah H. said. “I use my second monitor to display my lesson plans and weekly schedule. I also sometimes use it to keep the video of my student’s faces open while I open a lesson powerpoint on my computer.”

She said it helps to see student expressions and understand whether they are understanding, and it makes remote teaching a little more social.

Matt Lerner, left, and Mike Mathieu.

Seattle Public Schools Superintendent Denise Juneau said school districts were not fully prepared to shift to a 100% remote learning environment for such an extended period, and lacked the necessary tech to do so.

“We appreciate the community coming together to support our educators and providing a technological helping hand,” Juneau said.

Two Screens for Teachers has a waiting list of more than 20,000 teachers across the U.S. who have asked for second screens, and they are seeking tech leaders who will help meet the need. The goal is to deliver 250,000 monitors to teachers by the end of the year.

“We’re asking our fellow techies in the Bay Area, Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Denver, Salt Lake City, Atlanta, Austin, Dallas, Pittsburgh and Raleigh-Durham to show teachers they matter and keep students connected across the country,” Lerner said. “Let’s join together to solve this problem.”

Two Screens for Teachers is an independent project that operates in partnership with DonorsChoose, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. The project has been funded with a matching grant from the Mark Torrance Foundation, a collection of early Amazon, Microsoft, and Redfin employees, and venture capitalists from the Madrona Venture Group and Pioneer Square Labs.

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