When I speak with teachers, I always hear words like “busy,” “overworked” and “underpaid.” These clearly are not the reasons why teachers teach, so why has it become such common place? Earlier this year, I came across an amusing post on TeachThought.com that outlined time-consuming challenges educators face each day. As light-hearted as this post was, it was clear that these struggles are reality, and many, not surprisingly, rooted in technology and data.

As education technologists, it’s our job to help teachers connect with parents and students and to make teachers’ lives just a little bit easier by giving them the tools to quickly access important student information. While we’ve made great progress as a community, the TeachThought piece reminded me that we still have a lot to do.

Here are three big points to keep in mind as we work toward these goals:

Always Put Educators First

While student achievement is the ultimate goal, always keep teachers front and center in your efforts. After all, they’re the ones using and benefiting from the technology solutions that we create. Teachers are our best resource for identifying problems and building appropriate solutions. So, take the time to listen and work with them to create solutions that address specific challenges that they face.

Know What Your Peers Are Up To

Everyone in education technology is working toward similar goals. However, not everyone is working toward these goals in the same ways. We can achieve far more if we’re sharing ideas and collaborating. So, do what you can to build your professional network. Attend industry conferences. Go to workshops. Have informal meet-ups. This type of face-to-face collaboration is crucial to making progress, and it’s the only way that we’ll continue to create tools that impact teaching and learning.

Make Interoperability a Priority

It isn’t enough for ed technologists to work together closely. The apps and technology tools that we create need to work together as well. Today, there are TONS of incredible educational apps on the market. On their own, these tools allow teachers to improve upon and better manage the many moving parts that make up an average day. Everything from attendance to test scores to lunch purchases, and more. If the data these tools gather works together on a single, interoperable platform, a fuller picture of each student will emerge, and teachers can use their time more effectively to help students achieve more.

Again, the education technology community has made a lot of progress. But we still have a long way to go. If we keep the focus on teachers, work together closely, and push toward interoperability, there’s no limit to what we can accomplish for teachers, students, parents, and entire school districts.