Seesaw is a learning platform that brings educators, students and families together to deepen student learning. Teachers design and facilitate powerful learning experiences, students create, reflect, collaborate and make their learning visible, and families actively support and celebrate student learning. Seesaw is used by millions of K-12 students in over half the schools in the U.S.
Each team is asked to select, explain, and rank their top 8 values in order of importance.
Customer Comes First
Step inside the classroom and see how valuable our product is firsthand.
At Seesaw, we serve multiple customers, which is what makes our product so exciting and challenging to build. While our end-users are students, teachers, and parents, we also serve school administrators and technologists who onboard Seesaw for their schools (enabling teachers to then implement and use the platform).
During your first month at Seesaw, you’ll go through our onboarding process which includes a visit to one of our schools. You’ll visit a real classroom and see how real teachers and students use Seesaw in real-time. Stepping into a classroom, you’ll immediately gain empathy for the teachers (who are passionate about engaging their students) and the students (who are curious about everything and can be easily distracted). You’ll be able to see students and teachers interacting with Seesaw firsthand, whether it’s a 2nd grade math lesson focused on long subtraction or a Kindergarten classroom practicing reading. It’s important that everyone at Seesaw be a user researcher and truly understand our customers inside and out.
To that end, every Monday we have a company-wide meeting where there’s the opportunity to share new learnings as well as progress on current projects across the company. For example, our product teams share updates on new product features and launches, and recently the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) committee presented extremely relevant information about the demographics of K-12 students in the US. We need to understand the population we’re serving in order to build the best product possible.
Committed to Personal Growth
We believe learning never stops.
Despite coming from various backgrounds, everyone at Seesaw shares one thing in common: we all love learning. Not only is our product dedicated to enhancing learning, but we are also committed to growth and development as individuals and as a team.
A great example of how we demonstrate personal development is through our internship program for individuals pursuing a career in engineering. Unlike most companies where internship programs are largely run by engineering managers, our engineers drive Seesaw’s entire process from start to finish. It is a great opportunity for engineers (who may not have experience with hiring or managing) to identify which projects the interns work on, design appropriate interview questions, shadow one another during interviews, and ultimately make the decision about which applicants to extend offers. Independent contributors (ICs) get the chance to onboard and manage interns, and everyone gains a deeper understanding of what recruiting and hiring entails. While we are only in our second year, we’ve found this unique, engineering-driven internship program to be successful for everyone involved and we plan to continue evolving the program.
To further support professional development, we also offer educational stipends ($500 per year), for all Seesaw employees. In the past, folks have used their stipends to attend conferences, take online courses, or purchase books. We also take advantage of how knowledgeable our colleagues are and regularly host Lunch and Learns where team members can lead a presentation or discussion around a topic of their choice. Recent examples have included Understanding Equity and Stock Options, Advocacy (how to be an advocate for others), and Owning Your Career Growth.
We’re looking for people who don’t just want to simply climb the ladder, but are passionate about how they’re growing and developing. If that sounds like you, we highly recommend you learn more about how Seesaw enables K-12 students to better engage with both their teachers and parents and also learn more about the team behind it.
Actively Practices Inclusion
Inclusivity is top of mind for both our users and internal team members.
From a product standpoint, we are constantly asking ourselves how to make Seesaw as inclusive as possible. Thinking through a diverse, equitable, and inclusive lens is critical for our business. It’s how we can provide the best service possible to our users. Seesaw needs to be intuitive for students at all grade levels to use, as well as for parents and teachers across various socioeconomic, cultural, and educational backgrounds. We serve an extremely diverse population and build features that facilitate connections between disparate parties that are also easy to use. For example, we added a translator in our messaging app so that parents and teachers can communicate even if they don’t speak the same language.
Internally, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) plays an important role as well. We make sure our people programs are equitable, and are always looking for ways to refine or improve our processes. As a company, we regularly survey employees with tools like Officevibe to help us identify areas we can be improving and keep employees engaged. We’ve invested in DEI training at the manager level and all our new hires go through DEI onboarding. Each quarter, our DEI Committee (which represents various teams and identities) identifies an educational focus to create greater awareness around DEI topics within the company. To kick off 2020, we decided to focus on education. We’ve been giving educational presentations (i.e. about K-12 student demographics in the U.S.) and brought in a panel of SFUSD school teachers to talk about the demographics of their classroom and how they differentiate their teaching for different learners like English as a Second Language (ESL) or students with disabilities.
Overall, everyone is incredibly open and welcoming at Seesaw. Many of us agree that Seesaw is the humblest company we’ve ever worked at, and that we noticed it as early as our interviews. When you walk around our office, you won’t be able to tell who’s on the leadership team and who joined us last week, and you’ll likely find yourself in conversation with multiple people. 😊
Bonded by Love for Product
Connected by our mission that meaningful learning can happen anywhere.
Co-founders Carl Sjogreen and Adrian Graham have been working together for over 15 years. They first met at Google where they worked together as Product Managers. When they left Google, they started a company together that was later acquired by Facebook and spent a few years at Facebook together before leaving to create what is now Seesaw.
Carl and Adrian have always had an interest in the education space but were reluctant to create an education product given neither of them had an education background. Their initial product, Shadow Puppet, was launched with a desire to make it easy for anyone to be able to share photos, information, and ideas, in creative and easy ways on a phone or tablet.
By chance, Shadow Puppet became very popular in the teacher community and led Carl and Adrian to dig deeper into the types of problems educators were facing. Initially, several of the pain points teachers brought up were mechanical. For example, providing an iPad to a classroom where the iPads rotated from class to class was an issue because students weren’t necessarily able to save information on a device. However, from these conversations, it became clear that the product teachers actually wanted was one where students could interact, get excited, and engage with their work on a different level. Out of all of this, Seesaw was born.
Seesaw has since evolved into a platform where teachers can create engaging lessons and activities, students have total creativity in how they interact with and complete those lessons (like drawing, coloring, and recording presentations) building a portfolio of their work over time, and parents can see, participate, (and cherish!) all of it.
One of our team members, Taek Yun, joined Seesaw after seeing how transformative it was for his own family:
“A week before school started for my 7-year-old daughter, the teacher invited parents in and asked us to download two apps: one of which was Seesaw. I did as told, but truthfully didn’t look at either app for several weeks. Then one day, I got an email notification saying my daughter had uploaded a video to Seesaw. I clicked the link, which opened the app, and I watched her narrate a story she had both written and illustrated titled: “How to Make Friends.” I was so thrilled to see her talk so excitedly about, well, how to make friends!
As a parent, the biggest pain point is knowing what my kids are doing in school. Every day, I come home and ask, “How was your day? What did you do in school today?” and the answers are always a quick, one-word: “good,” “fine,” “fun.” But when I got home that day to ask my daughter about “How to Make Friends,” her face lit up and she didn’t even let me finish my question before enthusiastically telling me ALL about it. We talked for over 30 minutes! She was so engaged and so excited. Beyond that, I could see firsthand how her reading and writing improved throughout the school year through the Seesaw app. I knew right then and there that Seesaw was amazing and I wanted to be a part of it.”
The education industry tends to attract people who are human-centric, compassionate, and empathetic. While Seesaw sits at the intersection of education and technology, we’ve found the same to be true for us, too. We love what we’re building and deeply believe that Seesaw not only improves education, but also creates better relationships between teachers, students, and parents, creating a more holistic circle of learning.
We encourage team members to ask tough questions.
We place a large emphasis on feedback. We use Officevibe (mentioned previously) which sends a short survey to everyone once a week and also allows folks to leave open-ended feedback. It lets us keep a pulse on how things are going, engage team members in an easy way, and identify patterns and trends to help us improve.
Every Monday, we have a company-wide meeting, and the meeting doesn’t end until someone asks the CEO a hard question. The hard question is our exit ticket, and it always generates a lot of interesting conversations. These topics can range from challenging a business or product decision to asking about how current events are impacting the company, or being curious about company strategies.
We do performance reviews twice a year which include upward feedback – direct reports provide feedback to their managers. Our founders also take advantage of this opportunity and send out a survey to collect anonymous feedback from all employees about how they’re doing and what leadership can be doing better.
Finally, we end every Friday with “Woah What a Week.” We celebrate team wins, give shoutouts, acknowledge birthdays and anniversaries (with shoutouts about what that person has accomplished during their time at Seesaw!). It’s a great way to kick off our weekly happy hour, which we invite significant others, family members, and friends to as well!
From our matrixed product teams to our Slides Carnival each year, everything we do at Seesaw is cross-functional.
We love mixing things up and making sure we’re hearing ideas and feedback from everyone at the company. Our product teams are organized cross-functionally (1 product manager, 1 product designer, and a handful of engineers), which then rotate every quarter or two. This ensures that every component from ideation to execution is taken into consideration and also gives people the chance to explore different interests, apply their skill sets to different product areas, and work with different people.
In order to develop our product roadmap, we create opportunities for individuals to share their ideas, feedback, and stories from interacting with our users. We make sure to involve members from every team (sales, engineering, content, community) so that we know exactly what will deliver the most value to our students, teachers, and parents.
Finally, at the end of every year, we do a Slides Carnival where everyone at the company creates one slide with an idea or improvement for the company. They can be small fixes or moonshots, something you can do, or a project completely outside of your department. We then have a Carnival where you have 60 seconds to pitch your idea to the company. It’s a tradition of ours that is incredibly fun, but also powerfully creative. Many ideas have come to fruition as a result of Slides Carnival like our Creative Corner (we’ll explain below, so keep reading!).
Heavily Team Oriented
We love what we’re building, but we love who we’re building it with even more.
We embody teamwork in so many different ways that it’s difficult to make a comprehensive list! We do company-wide offsites twice a year where we take multiple days/nights away from work – really, we don’t do anything work-related – and spend time bonding as a team. We do a full or half-day offsite as a company once a quarter, too, and sub-teams will do quarterly offsites in smaller groups as well. But to us, being a team is even more than these offsites.
At our office, we have a Creative Corner where people can take what we like to call “brain breaks.” We bring the supplies and you get to take 5-20-minute breathers in the middle of your day to unwind. Throughout the year, we’ll have small events in the middle of the workday to make wreaths, Valentine’s Day cards, or do meditative yoga. More regularly, we have a coffee bot that randomly selects a colleague for you to get coffee with (or during COVID-times, connect over a 30-minute video call).
While these are all things that we do, they’re more of an expression of who we are. We’re all here at Seesaw to better engage kids at school, build trust between parents and teachers, and improve learning outcomes, and we apply the same principles within our team. We know we have different learning and working styles, so we have multiple avenues for people to create, converse, clear their heads, or just play.
Sometimes walking away from your code and doing a jigsaw puzzle (there’s always one being worked on) helps you think through it. Other times, it’s better to think aloud while doing some arts and crafts with a colleague you haven’t talked to in a while. Whether you’re a 5-year-old kid or a 50-year-old working adult, engaging with different parts of our brains throughout the day (and engaging with different people on a regular basis), makes us happier, connect with one another in more meaningful ways, and ultimately, be more productive.
Our platform is like a Swiss Army knife – there’s no one right way to use it.
Every year, we set annual goals at the company level, which teams then use to help set their own quarterly goals. Since our founders are also product managers and engineers by trade, they’re heavily involved in product planning and guiding our product teams.
We’re building a Swiss Army knife-like platform – something that can be used in several different ways depending on the problem at hand. For example, the way a kindergartner uses the product will differ greatly from a 12th grader. Features need to be built with various end users in mind and are always prioritized by what will drive the most value for the most parties. Teams are not organized by which customer segment they focus on. Instead, teams have the opportunity to work on various products. Engineers may build a parent-related feature first, and then focus on improving a teacher-related tool the next quarter.
While Seesaw helps to close the loop between teachers, students, and parents, we also dive deeper into serving each individual party. A recent feature one of our product teams launched is the ability for teachers or students to upload PDFs. Teachers or students can annotate the PDF, have the ability to record their voice with instructions or learnings, and utilize PDF uploads in creative ways within the platform. This feature was a frequent request from our customers and opens up utilization of Seesaw to a larger middle school and high school population.
Now more than ever, remote learning solutions are essential. With the coronavirus pandemic, we now have 15% of all K-5 teachers in the U.S. active on Seesaw daily, and many other teachers using Seesaw around the world. If any of the above excites you, we hope you’ll get in touch soon!
Customer Comes First
Committed to Personal Growth
Actively Practices Inclusion
Bonded by Love for Product
Heavily Team Oriented
15 Full-Stack Engineers
3 Product Designers
3 Product Managers
Unlimited vacation. In 2019, Seesaw employees took an average of 4 weeks of vacation!
Deployed on AWS Lambda + ApiGateway,
Frontend: React written in Typescript.
At Seesaw our hiring process typically begins with an introductory call usually from the hiring manager to provide information about the role, the company and to get a better understanding of what you are looking for in your next opportunity. Our goal in this call is to see if the opportunity makes sense from both parties.
Shortly after the call depending on the role we will send a very brief challenge or exercise to help us understand how you approach problems and your current professional development. The exercise also provides you some insight into the types of challenges our employees face in their department.
Upon receiving a successful challenge we then arrange an onsite interview with several people who would be your colleagues and people you would most often collaborate with in this role. Additionally we ask every candidate to have lunch with a few members from other teams so you have greater insight into our culture and ask questions in a more relaxed setting.