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New Teachers Online: How-To Articles: Use New Technology to Reinforce Instruction

Becoming a Part of an Online Community
Ann Stephenson

Do you have an overwhelming feeling that you are spinning your wheels because you’re a new teacher and don’t think you can finish everything by the time the deadlines are due?  Well, you can take some comfort in the knowledge that even teachers with many years in the profession feel overburdened at times.

In order to relieve these symptoms, why not join an online community for teachers where you can communicate by way of a web board, blog, or chat room (at the bottom of this page is a partial list to get you started). You’ll be able to learn tricks of the trade from experienced professionals as well as obtain answers to your immediate concerns. Quite often this isn’t possible at school due to different schedules among the staff.

If you can’t seem to find a site that addresses your concerns, why not start your own forum? Consider the following suggestions if you’re heading in that direction. Don’t be afraid of the undertaking as you will have many contributors assisting you. Start small and go from there.

  1. Since time is usually of the essence when a problem needs a quick resolution, it is absolutely necessary to create a site that is user friendly. Keep it simple with as few clicks as possible. It should also be easily accessible through the school firewall and at home.
  2. Your site will require resources for a teacher’s immediate needs. Write a set of questions and elicit answers from the public instead of the normal Q. and A. page. This will give you a broader perspective in solving problems or learning how to deal with a situation in the classroom. This may be an ongoing behavior problem, a forthcoming meeting with a parent, or how to write a meaningful test for a unit you found or wrote yourself.
  3. Design a mission statement in order to maintain the focus of your site. By doing so you will be able to assess the site on a regular basis so that the needs of the participants are being met.
  4. Invite teachers to be “guest bloggers of the month.” This may include retired teachers who would undoubtedly be happy to contribute. New teachers would learn how students were taught before the days of modern technology. Compare and contrast that with what happens in a classroom now.
  5. Include a section for personal information such as businesses that offer discounts. Many of these are nationwide. They may even want to advertize on your website.
  6. A recipe of the month for those evenings after a long staff meeting when there is little time to prepare dinner would be a welcome addition.
  7. Link to sites that offer classes, seminars, online programs.
  8. Post grant opportunities and other resources.
  9. In order to maintain the integrity of the site, a certain protocol should be set and enforced, i.e. no school personnel or students’ names should ever be mentioned.

Sounds like a lot of work? It can be. But you don’t have to do it overnight. Your site can be very simple at first and evolve into something grander. If you decide not to start your own site, then become a participant on some one else’s. The important thing is to connect with your colleagues and exchange information.

Online Community Toolkit

Build an Online Community

Ten Benefits of Starting an Online Community

Starting Your Own Online Community for Convenience and Profit

Jinity--Start a Social Network Website

Things to Think About Before You Start Your Online Community

The Village

Do you have a question or comment about this article? E-mail me.


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