On December 2, 2010, AEP will induct Marilyn Burns, Math Solutions; Diane Trister Dodge, Teaching Strategies, Inc.; and Rachelle Cracchiolo, Teacher Created Materials into the Educational Publishing Hall of Fame. Here in her first installment, Diane Trister Dodge, Founder and President, Teaching Strategies Inc., discusses the greatest challenge she faced and the next big challenge for the educational publishing industry.
What was the greatest challenge you faced in your career, and how did you handle it?
My greatest challenge has been managing a growing business! I had worked for non-profit organizations for years. When I started Teaching Strategies, I didn’t want to depend on grants and contracts. I wanted to be able to develop the materials I knew teachers could use and not have a board of directors or anyone else dictate what those materials would be. That plan worked better than I ever dreamed possible, and, within a few years, I needed a staff.
I also realized that I needed business advice and knew that I had little interest in learning to read balance sheets, developing long-term business plans, and worrying about budgets. I therefore consulted good friends who are successful businesspeople, and they became my advisors. I knew enough to listen to their advice and eventually to hire a real CEO who could manage the business while I continued to spend my time developing materials and giving presentations.
What do you think is the greatest challenge that educational publishing will face in the next five years? Any thoughts on how to approach it?
The greatest challenge will be in using technology to make our publications more accessible to our users. We have ventured into using technology with our online assessment system, first with CreativeCurriculum.net, and most recently with Teaching Strategies™ GOLD online. It is amazing to see how many more features we can offer teachers, administrators, and families when assessment tools are electronic rather than print products. We are also developing online, interactive training modules that teachers can access at any time and from any computer with an Internet connection.
Emerging technologies such as iPads, Kindles, and other ereaders make it easy to access books, so they are a growing trend in education today. At Teaching Strategies, we currently have over 60 print products. Our challenge is to take the vast amount of rich content in those publications and present it in interactive, digital formats. While there will always be people who love to hold a book, dog-ear the pages, add sticky notes, and highlight important text, we will have to find ways to keep our content robust and accessible in this high-tech environment.
Diane Trister Dodge founded Teaching Strategies, Inc. in 1988 with a clear mission: to make a positive difference in early childhood education. Starting as the sole employee in her basement, she has expanded the company to a staff of 80 and a network of more than 50 professional development specialists. Teaching Strategies is dedicated to providing the most effective resources in four essential areas: curriculum, assessment, professional development, and family connections.