Lisa Schmucki is the founder and CEO of edWeb.net, an award-winning professional learning network that serves a global community of 1 million educators. edWeb helps educators share their best ideas and practices to improve teaching and learning, and prepare students to be successful in life. edWeb is a 5-time winner of the prestigious SIIA CODiE Award. Lisa is an education, publishing, and media industry veteran with 40 years experience in product development, professional learning, marketing, and entrepreneurship. Lisa has served on the Board of the SIIA Education Technology Industry Association and is on the Advisory Council for the ERDI Alliance for Education Impact. Prior to founding edWeb in 2008, Lisa held senior positions with Time, Macmillan, Peterson’s, Films Media Group, MKTG Services, Acxiom, and Achieve3000. She is a graduate of Princeton University and works with the university on issues of undergraduate social life and community service. Lisa has a Masters Degree from the Stern School of Business at NYU.
1. Now that the school year is underway, what has surprised you the most about what your administrators/teachers, etc. are doing and what’s happening in your market in general?
How quickly and creatively educators have responded to a chaotic, crisis situation, and implemented changes that would have taken years before COVID – now in weeks.
2. What are the webinar subjects that are resonating most strongly with your market and how has it changed since earlier in COVID and now?
Much stronger results for things that help immediately with remote and hybrid instruction in all subject areas, but also social-emotional learning, mental health (students and staff and families).
3. What does the new normal for edWeb.net look like and do you see this continuing or do you think education will go back to what was ‘normal’ prior?
Our participation in our network and our webinars increased exponentially in March – June, but even this fall when educators were swamped with adjusting to new ways to teach, our participation is 50%+ higher than 2019. Superintendents have said that switching completely to “PD in your pjs is better than the inconvenience of face-to-face, so virtual PD will be stronger than ever.”
4. How long do you expect your employees to work remotely or are most of them doing so already? If you do have office space, what are your plans for using your office space going forward?
We’ve been remote since March, and our employees don’t want to return to a physical office space. I don’t want to manage the risk of that. We have a team Zoom that takes place 4 mornings a week, and it’s helped our extended staff (FT, PT, contractors, local and global) all be more connected and on the same communication level. We are more in touch with how everyone is doing personally. And we’re all online so much that you know folks are working – often day and night. I am considering how to change the concept of “work hours” and PTO.
5. How has your leadership style changed – or not – during this period? What might you be doing differently now with your team?
Interesting question! I should keep thinking about this one more. We had system performance issues in the beginning, so it was very reactive then, but we worked through it all in about 6 weeks. The 4-day a week Zoom is giving me more “facetime” with every member of the staff. It’s very easy to give a virtual pat on the back via email and text. I had a 1:1 check in with each team member in the summer that was very helpful in reaching the decision to go virtual. I was fascinated by all the different reasons why team members preferred it. I’m trying to think of ways to reward the team at the end of the year for an amazing job and for being so patient and helpful to our clients and educators throughout.
6. Any last ‘words of wisdom’ that you would like to share?
I’m more thankful than ever that we can help educators every day in dealing with what has been called “crisis schooling.” I try to approach each day with gratitude. Colleagues in the industry have been so helpful and supportive, especially the DOLS women’s networking group. Keeping connected with your team and with a supportive tribe of colleagues and having a purpose in all this really makes a difference!
|COLTON T. SMITH|
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