At Uncharted Learning, we’re hyper-focused on helping students gain the skills and confidence they need to excel. And we want the same for our teachers.
The INCubatoredu entrepreneurship teachers aren’t just teaching kids about business. They are the lifeblood behind the Uncharted Learning programming — adding energy and enthusiasm to our curriculum. Successful entrepreneurship teachers share a few common traits. They facilitate learning by maintaining a growth mindset, modeling through failure, and being able to relinquish control—improving the classroom experience for themselves and their students.
So let’s hear from one of these high school entrepreneurship teachers, Kurt Wismer. We want to know: What do teachers love most about teaching entrepreneurship in high school?
Kurt Wismer on Entrepreneurship Education in High School
At Horace Mann High School in North Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, Kurt Wismer leads a high school entrepreneurship course, INCubatoredu. With more than seventeen years of business & marketing education under his belt, Wismer knows a thing or two about motivating high school students to solve modern business problems.
In your own words, what makes a strong entrepreneurship teacher?
A strong entrepreneurship teacher is:
- Dedicated to solving a problem with their students
- A good listener, but also able to communicate clearly
- Someone who recognizes their faults and works to manage them
- A voracious learner who thrives in difficult situations and against adversity
- Someone who knows how to fail and sees the value in learning from failure
- Someone who helps kids be and do all of the above
What is most difficult about being an entrepreneurship teacher?
I would call it more of an opportunity or challenge vs. difficulty, but it is managing the multiple activities to do them well. For example, a good entrepreneurship teacher should have one foot in the present and another in the future. They need to be good at leveraging partnerships within the community. They need to be real with their students, but also encouraging, supporting, and believing. It’s the students with the craziest ideas that I think won’t work who typically surprise me and prove me wrong in the end.
“A good entrepreneurship teacher should have one foot in the present and another in the future.” -Kurt Wismer, Horace Mann High School
What do you enjoy most about being an entrepreneurship teacher?
I love that there are no wrong answers, just better ones.
How has teaching entrepreneurship education influenced your craft?
Teaching entrepreneurship makes me a better teacher. It certainly takes time and energy to do it well. Daily preparation and extensive planning is needed, but it is by far the most rewarding of my courses. Teaching entrepreneurship forces me to always be on my game and model the same passion, dedication, and willingness to fail that I expect of my students.
“Teaching entrepreneurship forces me to always be on my game and model the same passion, dedication, and willingness to fail that I expect of my students.” -Kurt Wismer, Horace Mann High School
What would you say to others who are considering teaching entrepreneurship?
Do it! It’s had a dramatically positive impact on me as a teacher, as well as the students I serve. It is also a natural opportunity to integrate students and schools with the local economy. The partnerships with the local business community and community leaders are good for both the school and community, and provide considerable talking points to the community. Most importantly, when the community is in the school, the conversation about education is usually positive and supportive.
In your own words, what type of mindset do you need to be successful teaching entrepreneurship?
Flexibility. If done right, the teacher will be the guide on the side and get out of the way of the students and their ventures. When students are empowered and excited about their business, the rest will fall into place.
What has surprised you the most about your role?
I was pleasantly surprised by the rally of the community behind my classes and their support for entrepreneurship education in our school. I knew that the community would be supportive, but the extent to which the business community supported, contributed, and guided our venture is truly inspiring.
Do you have any funny stories, anecdotes, or wow-worthy experiences to share?
The best part is seeing the students be successful in their work. When students win pitch events and get financial funding, it’s a fun day. That makes for great press and validation to other students. I have a past student who is now an entrepreneurship student at the University of Milwaukee-Wisconsin. The business she started in my high school class continues for her in college. She has won enough money from pitch events to put herself through school and pay for her tuition. Her story is inspiring to other students!
So Much to Love About Teaching Entrepreneurship in High School
Programming is only one piece of the puzzle. The right teachers—armed with a growth mindset, a desire to help students succeed, and the ability to detach from always knowing the answer—help our programs and our students succeed.
Entrepreneurship education exists because of students, community members, and teachers like Kurt Wismer, who are fiercely dedicated to advancing education for the next generation.
Ready to bring entrepreneurship education to your high school? Set up a call to get started.