I’m writing this in response to a meeting I was part of recently at RESA V. I was fortunate enough to get the opportunity to view videos of exemplary instructional methods that incorporated a wide variety of effective teaching techniques such as, blended learning, virtual learning, cooperative learning, and project-based learning. The videos that were submitted were excellent evidence of high quality teaching going on in each of the classrooms. As I sat there watching, I kept thinking of the other educators that I knew would benefit from what I was seeing. I was not thinking of how bad other educators are in the classroom, in fact, I was thinking of ones that I know are eager to learn and improve their practice. Call me naive, but I feel that most educators have a genuine desire to present the best possible instruction for their students. Consider what educators are saying when they have the attitude that there is no room to grow and nothing else to learn. The experience I was a part of last night should be one that all educators get to experience. How would education in my area change if all educators had the best access to the best teaching methods? I say how would classrooms change if educators had 24/7 access to the amazing things going on in classrooms all around us?
One ELA teacher put together a great video demonstrating how her video lessons allow her to differentiate for the multiple reading levels present in her classroom. I can only imagine the rich conversations that could be had if other educators had access to ask questions, present their struggles, or share their successes with this educator. What benefit would those conversations have for all educators involved?
One SPED teacher shared how she uses Second Life to develop guided lessons for her students to have 24/7 access to study materials and results-based instructional strategies. She and another teacher are able to push these lessons to all students through Edmodo, a social media platform for schools. I couldn’t help but think about the SPED and general education teachers in my own building who would love to learn more about the possibility of creating these lessons for their own students. What impact would these lessons have on learning if they could be shared with other grade levels or even other schools?
An elementary teacher put together a video demonstrating her use of cooperative learning structures within her 4th grade classroom. What would that video do for other elementary teachers struggling to manage their own classroom? What ideas and resources could be shared if those educators had the opportunity to discuss their own successes and failures.
A math teacher presented his excellent use of project-based learning in an 8th grade classroom. His video included students engaged in high quality learning experiences that required them to prepare, plan, collaborate, and communicate. At the end the students were required to justify their problem-solving as well as their solutions.
I appreciate you reading this far because what I’m about to say is, in my opinion, of critical importance today. This post would have little meaning if the possibilities of sharing these great experiences didn’t already exist today. Social media is embedded in all our lives already! Just 20 years ago, copying multiple videos, copying typed summaries, or perhaps writing a book or article would have been required to get these resources in the hands of other educators. The conversation, if any, would have been mostly 1-way with little back and forth opportunities. Today, the opportunity exists for educators to engage in meaningful, reflective conversations all in the name of improving their practice for students. These opportunities are no longer reserved for those who can afford to attend a national conference or for those who have the time to dedicate to reading an educational book. Those are, no doubt, still successful means of learning today. However, I am writing this to encourage more educators in the state of West Virginia to start SHARING. Start engaging in conversations about what is going on in YOUR classroom and what is going outside of your classroom.
Thursday nights at 8pm EST is the WV state-wide educational chat. Every Thursday evening educators are using Twitter to engage in these very conversations. In a short hour many links, questions, answers, experiences, and resources can be shared. Most of all, connections can be made that allow us to expand our perspectives and our resources to improve our own practice. No one joins an educational chat on Twitter because they think they know all there is to know about their practice. Being a part of these conversations begins with admitting that there’s opportunity to learn and someone out there who may benefit from hearing YOUR story. The most limiting factor in your classroom is you. I encourage you to share in whatever capacity you can. There are so many others that would benefit from hearing your story.