As a new teacher, the demands of the career can be overwhelming at times. During my first year of teaching, I felt alone and I was unsure about whether I was doing a good job. So I turned to the internet, and I was both surprised and delighted to find that there was a bustling teacher community around every corner.
Building community is essential for teachers to feel connected, supported, and to share their ideas with peers. And when teachers feel heard and supported, they'll be more satisfied with their career and more likely to stay in the classroom with the kids who need them. If you're a teacher with a strong support system, online communities and social networks can be a welcome addition. But if you feel a little more like you've been making a go of it alone, these spaces can be a much-needed lifeline.
Teacher blogs, Facebook groups, and Twitter are three online resources that have helped me to stay connected, engaged, inspired, and to continue learning with a community of like-minded educators.
Websites like Blogger, Wordpress, and Medium are filled with teacher blogs that share helpful resources, experiences, and connections. To get started, use a site like Bloglovin to find teacher blogs in your content area and grade level. From there, it’s your choice to snag resources, comment, ask questions, and maybe even start a blog of your own.
I started my blog after a year of reading and reflecting on the ideas of other teachers. I saw the feedback and positivity they shared and I wanted to contribute. I also wanted to share what I know to help teachers who felt alone and unsure in their classrooms -- much like I did at the start of my career.
As I engaged with teacher blogs, I found out that teachers were coming together in Facebook groups such as 2ndaryELA that discuss all matters ELA -- from writing assignments to analyzing text. Educators' Facebook groups gave me a safe place to learn about new ideas, ask questions, and find a way to solve problems in my classroom.
There are a ton of Facebook groups out there where you can build community -- go out and explore to find the groups that are the right fit for you.
Twitter is also a place to ask questions and share your expertise.
Twitter chats happen every day on every educational topic imaginable.
Twitter can bring your professional books to life. You can read your favorite book and then tweet the author to discuss a concept, or bring Twitter into the classroom and invite your students to do the same.
If you're not quite ready to go live on Twitter with your students, try this great strategy for Twitter-Style Exit Slips to get started offline.
And be sure to read about how Twitter saved one teacher by reigniting her passion for a career that can -- at times -- beat down and exhaust even the most motivated, caring teachers among us.
Whether you go the route of teacher blogs, Facebooks groups, or Twitter, find a teacher community to be a part of. The colleagues and friends you find there can talk you off the cliff, keep you energized, or inspire you to be the best teacher possible, every day.
How do you connect online? Which communities energize you and inspire you to be a better teacher? Add your favorites in the comments below.
Meagan England is an Instructional Coach and previously served as a K-8 Reading Interventionist and a fifth and sixth grade ELA teacher. She graduated from East Tennessee State University with a BS in elementary education, earned an MS in educational administration and supervision, and an EdS in curriculum and instruction from Lincoln Memorial University. She is currently a doctoral candidate at Lincoln Memorial University. Meagan also serves as a Hope Street Group Fellow, an Instructional Partners Curriculum Collaborative Facilitator, and an educational blogger. She co-founded Empowering Tri-State Teacher Advisory Group to provide educators with professional development and leadership opportunities to improve instruction for all students. Meagan is also an alumni teacher fellow for SCORE and America Achieves. Connect with Meagan on Twitter: @oodlesofteach.