What’s your background, and how did you get started in education?
I have wanted to be a teacher for as long as I can remember. I loved to “play school” as a child and would set up all my dolls and stuffed animals to be my students. Being a teacher was the realization of my childhood dream.
What’s your favorite memory from your time as an educator?
For me, the best memories of teaching are of reaching the most challenging kids. The students that brought out the best in me. The kids that needed me the most. Helping kids (and parents) start to see themselves through a different lens. I loved creating a community in my class. For me, the most important part of teaching is building relationships. Once a child knows you are their champion, they change how they see themselves. I used to ask the kids daily why I was so lucky to have them in my class. I told them every day that they filled my heart with joy. They did. A high school invited me to join them for a June 2022 high school graduation. I’m going to hand out a diploma to one of my old kindergarten students. That will be amazing. Cue the tissues.
How did you first hear about Boom Cards?
I first heard about Boom Cards long before the site was even launched. Rachel Lynette, one of the first teachers to make over a million dollars publishing resources to her peers, asked if anyone who made task cards would be interested in learning about a new platform. That platform grew into Boom Learning. I was so lucky to be one of the first publishers of Boom Cards. We were able to create decks and ask for more features, like sound and movable pieces. The owners of Boom Learning listened to what we wanted and added what we asked for. Even then, I knew Boom was going to be epic.
Before you started using Boom Cards did you have a preconceived idea of what “online learning” meant?
Before Boom Cards, I was already using Google Classroom. I knew the limitations of Google, the problems my kids faced when accessing that platform. With Boom, I had direct access to Eric [the CTO of Boom Learning], and he listened to our requests. He made Boom a platform I am so proud of.
How did Boom Learning change the way you were thinking about technology in the classroom?
I needed Boom Learning. I worked in a large, poor, urban district. My students came to me already behind their peers. I had 22 kindergarten students and no help, no supplies, and no support. I needed to create an engaging activity that would allow me to have guided reading groups and a way to reach every child every day. It was impossible to do that before Boom Cards.
When did you realize that you might be really good at designing curriculum with Boom Cards?
I made decks at night, and I’d bring them into my class in the morning. My kids begged me for more. Often the first thing they asked me was, “Did you make us new decks?” Every day, every single day, they asked me for more. I realized the power when my kids asked to use Boom Cards on my phone during recess!
Who is your audience when you design new decks?
It’s always about the kids. What will they like? What skills do they need? How can I make it accessible for every child? The kids drive every decision.
Can you describe the sequence of events that led to you becoming a successful publisher?
I am passionate about Boom Learning. I saw the difference it was making in my class, and I knew there were other teachers out there who would benefit, so I started making videos walking teachers through the platform. I went to tech conferences and spoke about the power of Boom Learning. I continued to build a large library of decks. But I think the most impactful thing I did was to explain what the platform was and how it benefited my class. Some of those videos have been seen well over hundreds of thousands of times. I spent almost as much time teaching teachers how to use the platform as I did selling my decks.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to get noticed as a publisher on Boom Learning?
It starts with an excellent deck. Think of the child first. Create a deck for the child. Think of the child who is struggling with this skill. Think about what they need to be successful. Think about what theme they would like. How can you create a deck that a child will choose? Then help your teachers. Show them how to use Boom Cards in their class. Explain why the Boom Learning platform will make their job easier, how it solves a problem. I always answer these questions. What skill are you teaching? What standard does this address? How does it differentiate for a number of different learners? How will the teacher know if the child has mastered the skill? You are not selling a deck; you are teaching a child.
What was the biggest surprise you’ve had while making and selling Boom Cards?
The impact I would make on teachers surprised me. I was shocked to hear districts and schools were using my videos for teacher training. I had no idea the magnitude of teachers I was reaching. I was shocked to go to conferences where teachers already knew who I was. Still, I’m shocked to have people come up to me and tell me what an impact I’ve made on their classrooms. It’s so completely humbling. I am so grateful for all the teachers doing the hard work every day.
How has the pandemic changed the way you look at education technology?
Boom Learning was here long before the pandemic. The pandemic just brought the power of digital to every single classroom. Now that teachers are familiar with the platform, the shift is back to using it in a meaningful way in a classroom.
What are some opportunities you see for new publishers that are just getting started?
I think the opportunity is always in solving a problem. Teachers have a multitude of problems. What problem is your ideal buyer facing? What skill does their student need help with? Figure that out for your grade level and solve the problem. Next, find a way to get your solution in front of buyers. Try video, Facebook, Pinterest, conferences, Instagram, TikTok, whatever feels right for you. No one can buy from you if they can’t find you. Get yourself in front of them. I always think I am in a football stadium and my friend is trying to find me. If I just sit in my seat, she will never find me. I have to actively do something to stand out to help her find me. How are you going to help her find you?
Can you really make a living by selling Boom Cards?
The short answer is yes. Yes, you can make a full-time salary creating Boom Cards, but you need to do more than just make decks and post them. You need to sell them on a variety of platforms. Think about selling on Boom, TPT, and your own site. You need to spend almost as much time marketing yourself as you do creating Boom Cards. You can have the best deck available but, if no one sees it, then it won’t sell. That often means pushing out of your comfort zone. There are so many ways to get your product in front of buyers: podcasts, blogs, videos, paid traffic, the list goes on and on. Most full-time sellers use all of the above. First, create great decks, then focus on increasing traffic to your deck. Believe you can. If your dream of success isn’t scary, it’s not big enough.
Have you always considered yourself to be an entrepreneur?
NO! I often say I was an accidental entrepreneur. I am so grateful for the opportunity to create a business. It was not something I ever thought about. I was a kindergarten teacher, and that was it. That was enough. Then my mom died suddenly and unexpectedly. I spent so much time reflecting on her life. She was so brave and did such amazing things with her life. After her death, I decided to be brave and do something big with my life. Once I decided to do it, I was all in. From day one, I told my family I run an international internet empire! From day one, I said I am going to figure out how this will support my family. Everything big seems impossible until you do it. There are millions of buyers out there; there is room for all of us in the sandbox. You can make your dreams come true. It takes hard work, many, many, failures, and a willingness to act, but you can do it. It all comes down to. . .how badly do you want it? Only you know the answer.
Any last words of wisdom?
I have always believed the most important part of teaching is relationships, and in building a business I believe the same is true. Building relationships with the teachers you help is so crucial. It will have a lasting impact on your business. I want every interaction with a buyer to end with them feeling like I was helpful—even if it doesn’t result in a sale. Relationships first, sales second. The cherry on the top is the relationships I’ve built with other sellers. I’ve been so fortunate to build relationships with some of the most amazing people from all over the country. I’m especially impressed by the women I’ve met, who inspire me every day. Boom Learning has given us an incredible opportunity to change our lives and the lives of our families. I am cheering you on— go be awesome!
Check out some of Della’s recent decks in the Boom Store.