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How Seesaw created a supportive learning community

Danielle Maveal
Dec 9, 2022

We met Suvi Gluskin, Seesaw's Head of Community and Angela Gadtke, Community Founder, a few months ago and we were immediately impressed with the community strategy she'd created and the initiatives she's rolled out. We asked her to help us tell her story, so that we have more success stories to learn from! We're thrilled she said, 'Yes!'

Read on for some fantastic tips, insights, and thoughts on growth, measuring success, and motivating members to engage and adopt new programs.

I love how new community members to the Seesaw Learning community have to take a short course, and can move into more parts of the community when they complete additional tasks. What inspired this model? Can you share anything you learned building and rolling this out?

We have learned that when entering a community, it’s helpful to have a shared experience or foundational knowledge to build upon. The topics presented in the short course can ignite an idea in one educator which can launch a deeper conversation with others. By completing the one-hour course it also indicates their level of interest and commitment to joining this community. This typically translates into a more active participant.

"Our community thrives on learning from one another. Everyone has something to share; they have some expertise that will inspire others.”

We feature educators in our community not only to celebrate them, but to give them the opportunity to have a greater impact. Educators have the freedom to choose topics that interest them and we provide various formats for them to engage. This enables more interaction and connection.

You have a few different programs for your community of educators. How do you decide to launch a new program? What signals do you look for before you build something new?

Always stay in touch with what your community needs and wants. We expanded from one to three professional learning communities in order to give more educators an opportunity to grow alongside a supportive network. There were several indications that it was time to expand.

First, our Seesaw Ambassador community started in 2015 and it is selective. We found ourselves turning away educators who were really eager to continue to learn and grow. That did not feel right.

"If someone’s motivated to grow alongside others, let's not get in their way. We launched our Seesaw Pioneer community to meet this need. Anyone can begin their journey here and still have many opportunities to connect with others.”

Another signal that it was time to expand, was that some members of the Seesaw Ambassador community were ready for more. As that community grew, and new members joined throughout the years, we saw the levels of experience and expertise become even more differentiated. Educators who had been in that community for years were really playing a role of mentor to others which was fantastic, but they needed new opportunities to engage and share their leadership. We launched our Seesaw Certified Educator community to meet their needs.

I love the Seesaw Connect initiative. How do you measure the success of a program like Seesaw Connect?

This can be easy and at the same time complex. It’s easy to look at the total number of participants registered and see the impact in terms of new community members or year over year growth. However, we also look at trends such as how many courses an individual completed and are always monitoring our registration numbers until the last day of the event. Keeping an eye on these trends ensures that the content is valuable. We also know that participants spread the word to others.


We rely on surveys to get qualitative feedback. These are embedded in each course and at the end of small group experiences. One question we ask is, will they attend the event again next year. Let them answer with a “yes” or “no” and give them space to explain why they chose that response. We set a goal for what percentage of participants indicate “yes”.

Social media posts and community discussions posted by participants also help tell the story of your program or event. These convey their energy and help indicate that the content was worthwhile. They are also a great place to gauge what participants found most valuable or topics they are interested in learning more about. We use these as themes to post about in the future or develop courses on.

Do you have any advice for community builders that are looking for new volunteers for ambassador or educator programs? How do you attract people to new initiatives and motivate them to join?

Take the time to meet and get to know your most engaged community members. Learn from them. What interests do they have? What do they find valuable about your community? Their participation and sharing is what will attract others to join.

If you’re brainstorming a new program or initiative, ask your community for their advice and opinions. Give them early access or set up a video conference. What would they change? How would they make it even better? Listen and integrate their ideas and needs.

What excites you about the future of the Seesaw community? Can you share anything on the horizon?

There are so many things we’re excited about. The first thing that comes to mind is that our community continues to grow globally. We have educators with amazing experience, deep knowledge, and passion. Their energy is really contagious. We’re eager to give them more opportunities to share and connect with others on both local and global levels.

Thank you, Suvi, for being so open and sharing these insights! We look forward to watching the Seesaw community grow!

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