What does a community of support look like when you’re a teacher? How does a community like that help you learn? How does it lift you on those hardest of days? How does it challenge you? And why is a community so important?
When I started teaching, most of our teaching communities existed ‘in person’ - the community of other teachers in our school, the other teachers you meet at professional development opportunities, your friends from university.
The online teacher support space was very different from how it is today. Facebook and Twitter were fledgling sites, with invitations and limited reach. Yahoo groups were clunky things and message boards had all sorts of restrictive rules.
At that point, I found my online teaching community through blogs. Blogging allowed me to reach out and beyond the teaching community of South East Queensland to make teaching friends around the world. It allowed me to discover new ideas and new ways of teaching from the comfort of my home. Through comments on the blogs of others and eventually my own blog, I could ask questions, share what I was doing in my own classroom and clarify my own opinions about teaching and learning.
As technology has improved, we’ve been able to connect as teachers better than ever. We can find teachers everywhere; teachers who are passionate about different topics - from flexible seating to reader’s workshop to integrating STEM. We can still find people through blogs, but also on Facebook, Twitter, Slack, Instagram and more.
Why Are Teaching Communities Important?
For me, a teaching community reminds me that I’m a lifelong learner - that there’s always more in this world to explore and apply. I can follow a tweet to a blog post to academic studies to teachers in a group discussing how something looks in their classroom and I’m better for the experience.
Teaching communities can also be places of support when things aren’t going right. When we can talk about teaching issues in safe teaching communities, there’s usually someone else who’s been in a similar position and can offer advice.
A great online teaching community is also a place of celebration. A place where you can talk about the lesson which kept every student engaged, the elusive ah-ha moments we all chase or those rare days when you manage to clean your teacher’s desk and get out the door before dark!
Where Are Your Online Learning Communities?
Are you a teacher in Australia or New Zealand interested in joining a community to chat about, celebrate and support other teachers in teaching English and Social Studies (or HASS for Australian teachers)?
Read, Write and Explore the World is a new Facebook group from the teacher-resource creating team of Hinemoa from Top Teaching Tasks and myself. We would love yo have you along as we build a brilliant online teaching community where we can learn, ask questions and celebrate those great English and Social Studies moments in your classroom!