Connecting with Rob and Woody
Rob and Woody Zeigler
Where do you recommend first-time visitors begin on your site?
Rob: It's different for every teacher. You have the ability to choose the sections you think will support you the best. Ideally, you should start with a section you're interested in first before you go into unknown territory. Areas of interest are the key to the site. There are 52 strategies from which one can learn.
How has the site evolved since you first launched it?
Woody: The leadership side has evolved differently than we originally expected. Someone suggested we add the administration and leadership section for principals, instructional coaches, as well as teachers. Our videos allow districts to teach a group of people together. After the video, the group can divide and write evaluations, commendations and recommendations. Now the site is really valuable for education candidates, new teachers seasoned administrators and teachers.
Rob: Now visitors can search by grade level and strategic area. We just added our 52nd strategy of differentiated instruction as well.
What advice would you give to other educators who have an entrepreneurial project in the works or in their head?
Woody: First of all, when the Milken Foundation recognized us, it created a significant impact in our lives. It inspired us to keep stretching ourselves and doing what we believed was right, rather than do the easy convenient thing. Second, we'd encourage others to seek advice from other educators and business leaders. We went to a group that coaches entrepreneurs interested in education products. We sat down with four high-level superintendents and explained our vision, and three said "this is crazy," but then another man, Dr. James Davis from Hattiesburg, Mississippi, said, "I could really use this with my teachers for my kids." That was enough to push us forward. That was the kickoff that boosted us to be nationally represented. Third, follow your dream.
Now the University of Nebraska has used 1,837 of our videos in just one course. Peru State College used 13,745 video clips in the education college and overall users accesses 297,337 pages and 65,062 video clips. We know that we're making a difference.
What have you learned about education as a result of starting this site?
Woody: I personally am a better teacher and educator today than I was before we created Educator's Virtual Mentor. I know more about who I am and what I do and don't want to do.
Rob: We've learned just how many great educators are out there. A great educator can raise the expectation levels for any student, even higher than what we've ever imagined. When we see success and achievement occurring in troubled schools and with students from troubled environments, it raises my expectations of what this website can accomplish.
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