How to Utilize an Online Community for Teachers

Jessica Shaffer
Jessica Shaffer
5th Grade Teacher; MA in Administration & Leadership, Georgian Court University, NJ

In the modern world of technology that we live in, online communities are an outstanding way to connect with others in the teaching world. What I personally love about this era of technology is that we can connect with teachers that have similar philosophies and goals that we may not have otherwise connected with and connect with teachers in other states and even other countries.

Benefits of an Online Community for Teachers

An online community is beneficial because it connects teachers on a global level. Collaboration is an important part of being a teacher, and online communities provide a platform where you can connect with other teachers and obtain advice, share ideas, partake in quality professional development, and find resources beneficial to your classroom.

An online community can also provide you support in handling difficult student situations that may arise. It is always important to go to administration within your building as a first line to deal with tough scenarios, but reflection is important, and an online community can help you do just that.

Online communities are convenient, as you can access them at various times and from various places. We live in a world that relies on convenience, as time is of the essence, so being able to collaborate and discuss whenever it is easiest is important to your success as an educator.

How to Utilize an Online Community for Teachers

Teaching is a student-centered profession, and an online community can help you to increase student achievement levels. Some examples of online communities are: Discovery Education Network, which allows teachers to connect with each other providing networking opportunities; Teach Channel, where teachers can watch and learn how to use more innovative teaching ideas; and Better Lesson, which provides many different resources from teachers all over the globe. There are many, many others that you can find just through simply searching for ‘online teaching communities’ in your search engine.

Mentioning these different online communities shows the different ways they can be utilized, such as watching and observing other teaching methods. It is beneficial in the fact that you are able to actually see how to implement various ideas and the result. Having resources available online is important also. As mentioned above, time is limited, so finding resources that can be utilized within the classroom without having to spend the time to create your own, can be a lifesaver. Additionally, just having a platform to have discussions and share ideas can be quite insightful.

Social media platforms are also a great way to connect with others. Twitter has evolved to become a solid way to obtain teaching ideas, share teaching ideas, and find much valuable professional development to fine tune your teaching practices. Facebook has many different groups that you can join in order to promote positive teaching ideas and moments, to share experiences, and to connect with others and share lesson plans and resources. Instagram has many wonderful teaching pages filled with ideas and links to utilize within your own classroom.

Online communities and social media have created many new and improved ways to discover ways to better yourself professionally. Professional development online has been a game-changer, as you are able to sit on your couch at night, and watch an online professional development and connect with other educators, instead of having to drive and have a much smaller pool of people to connect with. Being able to simply click on a link and gain access to many different valuable resources gives teachers the ability to differentiate and target different learning styles in a matter of minutes or seconds. Fifteen years ago, this would not have been available, and it is really amazing that we can do these things now. Connecting with other teachers in real time on a video, or watching video-taped lessons, just expands the possibilities of teaching within your classroom, school, district, and beyond. As Henry Ford stated, “Coming together is the beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success.” The more ability we have to work together, the more success will be reached in the end.

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