Leveling up Classcraft Ambassadors: A Q&A with Kinshasa Marshall

Classcraft Ambassadors are rockstars!

Besides using Classcraft in their classrooms, they encourage and inspire other educators to make school seriously fun for their students. They’re such an amazing bunch of educators that we wanted to give them more. So we redesigned our Ambassador Program to be as amazing as they are with more support to share their stories and better tools to amplify their voices.

The program also has a new leader: Kinshasa Marshall, our Learning Development Specialist. A savvy problem-solver, Kinshasa brings a positive and enthusiastic approach to everything she does. We sat down with Kinshasa to learn more about her and the Ambassador Program. 

Kinshasa Marshall, Classcraft’s Learning Development Specialist
Kinshasa Marshall, Classcraft’s Learning Development Specialist

Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself. What brought you to Classcraft?

Kinshasa Marshall: I was the director of academic technology at a private school in Atlanta. My job was to train teachers on software, but I also had to step into the classroom and teach computer classes. I had great kids, but I’d only see them once a week for 40 minutes. By the time I got them in the lab, settled them down, and explained the lesson, it was time to go. If I did get any bit of teaching in, they’d forget the material by the next class. 

I started using Classcraft for classroom management. I gamified the process by giving points for being prepared for class before the bell rings, having the Chromebook open and ready to go, etc. And it worked! I saw a 98% difference — give or take — in the way my kids were ready and prepared for class. Classcraft also improved attendance. When I started using Classcraft, kids were running to my class. Attendance turned around. Classcraft changed the atmosphere of my classroom with the kids, but the real difference was in seeing the professional development with teachers who loved it. 

Q: What are you excited both personally and professionally?

Kinshasa: Technology in education! It sounds nerdy, but that’s who I’ve been from the very beginning! I was the kid who broke apart our VCR to figure out how it works. I was definitely a geek. I love how engaging tech can be for our children. But I’m also super passionate about digital citizenship and zoning out. You don’t have to be connected to a device at all times. Open a book. Smell the flowers. 

At Classcraft, I’m proud of how our Learning team has developed into a whole system that supports, engages, and motivates our teachers. From making our Marketplace better with higher quality quests to providing tutorials that get teachers started quickly, we’re always trying to make the teacher experience the best it can be. 

Kinshasa Marshall with Classcraft Ambassador Steve Issacs
Kinshasa Marshall with Classcraft Ambassador Steve Isaacs

Q: Let’s talk about the new Ambassador Program. What does it do?

Kinshasa: The Ambassador Program is for teachers who use Classcraft to motivate and engage their students. These are really exceptional teachers who want to inspire other educators by sharing their Classcraft story, so we help them do that. 

We also make sure our teachers have what they need to do even more amazing things in the classroom. So while we give them help and resources through the Ambassador Program, they also get to tap into this amazing community of other teachers who can share their ideas and offer support.   

Q: That sounds awesome! Why did Classcraft decide to re-launch it?

Kinshasa: Classcraft has grown, and it was time for our Ambassador Program to grow with it. The changes we’ve made shift the attention to where it belongs — on our Ambassadors. We now have better perks and swag to offer; we provide opportunities to talk to other educators, schools, media, and the general public; and we’re working on ways to recognize Ambassador achievements. 

Our teachers are our champions in the classroom, so we want to give them better tools to use when they are presenting at conferences. We’ll be keeping them in the loop about features and news with an exclusive newsletter, and we’d like to help them grow their networks by sharing their activities and giving them a shoutout on social media. 

When we re-thought the program, one thing we realized was that, to do all this, we needed to have better interactions with our Ambassadors. So we’re switching to a communication platform that will keep us more closely connected. We’ll be able to see when our Ambassadors will be presenting at conferences, which schools they’re at, and generally have a sense of how we can support them. 

With more ways to level up, teachers will be able to go further with this Ambassador experience. The biggest change they’ll see is the quest they’ll have to take when they get started. 

Classcraft Ambassador Laura Smith at ISTE19
Classcraft Ambassador Laura Smith at ISTE19

Q: So, what’s all this about “leveling up” the program?

Kinshasa: We want our teachers to shine — when they represent Classcraft, promote it, and even then they are just being awesome in their classrooms.

In its first version, becoming an Ambassador was the highest goal but also the last step of the program. Now, as they master different skills, they can level up. Classcraft Ambassadors, who get things like access to beta features and discounts, can become a Certified Classcraft Educator and have opportunities like being at featured events. The highest level is a position on our Learning Council, where educators will have a voice on Classcraft. 

The new Ambassador Quest
The new Ambassador quest 

Q: You mentioned a quest. Tell us more!

Kinshasa: Ahh, this is so fun! So when teachers apply to become an Ambassador, they join a class where I am the gamemaster (mwahaha!) and they are the students going through the journey of becoming an Ambassador in a quest. 

Their tasks will include things like creating a quest of their own, posting something on the forum, giving a presentation. These are things they were doing with the first version of the Program, but now we’re gamifying the process. They’ll earn points for completing the work and leveling up as they progress. I’m in contact with the entire class of cohorts during the whole process so they are well supported!

Q: Cohorts? What are those?

Kinshasa: Ambassador applications used to flood in throughout the year. Now, the application process will open and close at different points of the year. This way we can focus our attention on supporting a smaller group of teachers to help them become amazing Ambassadors. Once we “graduate” one cohort, we can focus on the next one. 

Teachers have a lot on their plates, so we want to make this process easy for them. Quests can still be done at their own pace, but with cohorts, teachers will also benefit from being able to work with their peers.

Q: Do current Ambassadors need to re-apply to participate in the new program?

Kinshasa: Yes, we’re asking our current Ambassadors to renew so we can re-familiarize ourselves with how they’re using Classcraft. 

Classcraft Ambassador Kellie Weisenbeck
Classcraft Ambassador Kellie Weisenbeck

Q: What excites you most about the Ambassador Program?

Kinshasa: Remember when I mentioned being a teacher who used Classcraft? Every time I meet up with an Ambassador, they talk about something awesome they do in the classroom. It brings me straight back, and I miss it! 

Recently, I was helping an Ambassador prep for a conference, and we ended up talking about this great idea she had for a Classcraft bulletin board. That’s the stuff I love and miss. That’s what I’m most excited about — reconnecting with teachers and getting inside their classroom. 

Q: So, how do teachers get started? 

Kinshasa: It’s very simple. They head on over to our Ambassadors page and submit an application. That’s it! That page also has some more information about the program if they need it. 

Q: Anything else you want teachers interested in joining the program to know? 

Kinshasa: Yes! I 👏🏾 am 👏🏾 your 👏🏾 sidekick👏🏾 Our Ambassadors are out there like Batman, saving the day. I’m their Robin, lending the support. I’m here for you! 

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