As a teacher from a small school with only one grade level teacher to partner up with, I understand how isolated we can feel in the profession. Many times I've pondered what it would be like to be a "fly on the wall" in the next teachers classroom to see what they are doing and how they are creatively meeting the learning needs of our students. It is extremely important to work face-to-face with the teachers in our own building, but I feel that it is also extremely important to also be apart of a larger online professional learning community as well. This semester I took up two new hobbys to help me accomplish this goal. The first thing I did was create an account on pinterest. The second new hobby was to start a blog on blogger.
Pinterest is an online website favorite marking site. Instead of saving websites by their url titles, people are able to link to a saved website via a picture. Elementary teachers (especially) are using this site to swap ideas on how to teacher different units, standards, classroom management, classroom designs, classroom projects, etc. On this site I am connected to over 95 teachers whom are on the site daily posting new ideas back and forth. I have used many of these ideas already in my own classroom with great results.
The second part of being apart of an online community is to find away to express your ideas and set them on the table for others to see and use them. I created a blog to help me accomplish just that goal. I used blogspot because it was easy to set up (much like weebly or officelive). The biggest difference is that blogspot is set up to link blogs together. By opening a google email address, a person can sign up to follow each others teaching blogs. In a blog, a teacher can express feelings, ideas, lessons, and post pictures about what they are doing in their classroom. Blogs have begun to be even more useful as followers of pinterest can "pin (link to the pages url)" a picture from your blog to share with others on their pinterest boards. When I post my own blogs, I "pin" all my photos to share ideas with other teachers. Because of pinterest, my blog has had over 300 visiters since its creation over Christmas break.
Goal #6: Graduates of this program should be able to demonstrate professional leadership skills and continued professional growth in curriculum and instruction.
Being a teacher is not a 9am – 5pm job. It is a job that you live and perform both in the classroom and out. As a teacher I seek to continued my growth as an educator, and I acknowledge that to do that, I need to find ways of connecting with teachers to swap ideas with. This year I did not have a strong professional learning community, as there was the only kindergarten teacher in my building. My blog and pinterest allowed me opportunities to reach out to other kindergarten teachers and learn other ways to teach what I am teaching in my room. One such example I found, was teachers blogging and “pinning” ideas to pinterest about the “Daily 5”. I read a blog, and discovered it was book written by a well-known successful elementary teacher. I bought the book read it, and redesigned my learning centers to include 30 minutes of reading, 30 minutes of writing, 30 minutes of partner reading, 30 minutes of phonics work, and 30 minutes of reading to my students. It is amazing to see my kindergarten students be able to complete these tasks successfully daily! I have students that have mastered multiple site word lists, have learned to write so well they can fill a page front and back with complete sentences, and some of my parents have become amazed that their children are now reading bedtime stories to them! I am so glad that I reached out and created an online professional learning community of my own.