“We won! We won!” shouted Shirley Decker as she read the e-mail notification from the Metro Orlando Economic Development Commission. When we first began designing TeacherStudio® three or four years ago, who knew that we’d be sitting among our city commissioners to accept one of the 2010 William C. Schwartz Industry Innovation Awards so soon. After all, we just officially launched the product in June. The event took place on last Wednesday at the Waldorf Astoria Orlando. The hotel was beautiful, the food was delicious (especially the red velvet cake), the white-glove service was impeccable, and we were surrounded by some of the most innovative companies in our region. As we sat in this amazing ballroom, we took a minute to think about how we got to this place.
This adventure began several years ago when we, as former educators, dreamed up an idea of supporting professionals in an online environment. In this case our initial focus was on supporting and improving the effectiveness of our country’s educators. Our experiences stemmed from our time both inside and outside of the classroom, as well as doing a great deal of homework about teachers’ opinions on their professional development and support. To paint a picture for you… we knew what it was like when you first start your career as an educator and the roller coaster of emotion and feelings you go through. On one hand you enter the classroom feeling elated, excited, and eager while at the same time you go through moments of isolation, uncertainty, and being completely overwhelmed. Once you’ve been teaching for a few years you continue to look for ways to improve your instructional practice, but it can be difficult for educators to take time away from their students to attend professional development sessions and to go into other classrooms to observe their colleagues’ work. As you become a seasoned educator, you master so much of what it takes to be truly effective in increasing student learning but finding ways to share and pass those learnings on can be sporadic. The question for us became… what type of online tool would you create for educators to support their professional development and to give them a sense of constant support? Our answer was a professional learning community. We wanted this community to connect colleagues within a district and across district lines, to be able to find mentors and mentees so that novice and seasoned educators could share their experiences, and to show video clips of best practices in action so educators don’t miss an opportunity to see what their peers are doing. TeacherStudio has become a community for educators because, as our tag line says, “Teaching is too important to do alone.” While we’ll continue to work with educators, we’re also looking for new ways to share our StorySource™ concept with other professions.
It was a great honor to win the award last week but it’s just the beginning for us. The award is a great honor and verifies our thoughts that this is a product worth working for but just like teaching, it’s always a learning process and it’s something we’ll continue to improve upon. For more about TeacherStudio, visit www.TeacherStudio.com.
Click below to view the acceptance speech by Kelly Pounds httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uJoe_XNwTrY