As teachers, we know that finding time to talk with our colleagues can be a big challenge. Even the people who teach in our building often don’t have the same prep periods or lunch times available to talk and collaborate. And often we have colleagues and friends who don’t teach in the same building or area. They are even harder to find time to talk with. At the same time, as educators we are always looking for ways to connect with other teachers. We want to discuss things that aren’t working for us and find new and better ways to reach our students. We want to give ourselves time to think outside the box with other educators and come up with new, exciting ideas for the classroom. Sometimes having a quick conversation in the hallway is the best way to collaborate. But if you are looking for something more in-depth and sustainable, try using technology to make a connection.Here are 5 ways to use technology to collaborate with colleagues:
- Pinterest - Pinterest already has a world of lesson planning boards, collaboration boards, teacher blogs and more. You can start following one that already exists, or you can start your own. You and your colleagues can work together to build a space that contains new ideas, lesson plans, and conversation starters. Sometimes a quick pin and a few sentences is all it takes to get a project started with your colleagues or give you an exciting new idea to try.
- Twitter - Think of twitter as a giant professional learning network (PLN). Using hashtags, you can find a conversation you are interested in. You can just follow along from the sidelines and observe the conversation, or you can start responding and take part yourself. Either way, Twitter is a huge resource that is often overlooked by busy teachers. While it can be overwhelming, it can also be extremely informational and supportive. There are a lot of people on Twitter who will answer questions and offer advice just because you ask. Start with some general education hashtags like #teaching, #commoncore, or #teacherproblems and see what happens from there.
- Blogs - Do you like to write or do you have a lot of writers around you? Read and/or write blog posts to stay in touch with the latest teaching ideas. Think about starting a blog for your school or your PLN. Take turns posting teaching-related materials with and for each other. Or if you don’t have time to write, think about starting a “blog club” (similar to a book club) where you get together with a group of colleagues once a week to discuss a blog you are following together. Talk about how you agree or disagree with what was written and what you want to try in your classroom. Try starting with something like the Big Universe (blog.biguniverse.com) blog which contains three or four short posts about a variety of topics each week.
- Facebook - Start a Facebook group just for your 1st grade team or the teachers in your school or district. You can make this a closed, private group so that only those invited can see the posts and become followers. In this environment, you can freely collaborate with colleagues on your own time rather than trying to find space in an already busy teaching day.
- Take an Online Class Together - Online classes are a great way to earn credits. If you are able to take them with a few teachers that you know, you can earn credits and collaborate at the same time. Most online classes require a certain amount of discussion time through online discussion boards. It is always great to see what other thoughts and ideas people have. If you don’t currently have a group of colleagues that you connect with, try taking an online class to find other teachers who are interested in the same topics as you.