Do you remember the first staff meeting you ever attended? Did you look around the room and wonder who you might be able to work with in the coming weeks, months or years? I remember and can still feel that same sense of apprehension I had about whether or not I would have an opportunity to collaborate. As my first year progressed I found it easy to collaborate with a couple of teachers in subject areas other than mine but for the most part I was alone -- on my own when it came to learning, growing, and developing into the social studies teacher I wanted to be.
Oh, how things have changed.
A group of social studies educators are working together with Edutopia to offer new ways to collaborate and enhance our professional teaching practices through an ongoing forum for discussion. Here are the main channels we're using.
Edutopia Social Studies Group: Here's where you start and find links to the sites below or assistance with questions and join conversations.
#sschat A weekly Twitter chat for social studies educators to discuss various topics in real time.
Social Studies Wiki Here we share, access and contribute links and resources for content and best practices in Social Studies.
SSChat Ning We can also expand our PLNs by joining the Social Studies Chat Ning where there are opportunities to collaborate with your peers in real-time.
Collaborating with other social studies teachers can be very powerful. If you're like me, most of your opportunities for collaboration and cooperation with your colleagues occurred at workshops and conferences. There you would meet great like-minded educators who shared ideas and resources. You left the conference with great plans to build upon all that you learned, but once it was over and everyone went home, the collaboration stopped.
Here the collaboration never stops. Opportunities for long-lasting sustainable collaboration with colleagues used to be incredibly difficult. Many times it is difficult to leave the four walls of your classroom, let alone have those meaningful occasions where teachers can discuss what lessons, texts, and activities that truly excite students. Those days are long gone. The social studies community that's growing here provides powerful ongoing professional development.
Benefits of Global Collaboration
Today my greatest sources of inspiration and encouragement are colleagues that I have never met. I certainly never dreamed sitting in that first staff meeting that the best resources in my 20 years in education would be located thousands of miles from me working in entirely different schools! Interestingly, I think I know some of my colleagues online better than the ones in my building.Together we have enhanced our abilities as educators and even collaborated on projects. Indeed, soon a few of my online colleagues and I will be presenting at NCSS (National Council for Social Studies) in Washington D.C. this coming December. We owe it all to the online connections we've established.
I hope you will join us on this journey. I guarantee you will feel more connected and grow professionally, but most importantly, you will become a better teacher. The tools and connections you'll make do all of that and more. I can tell you from personal experience that your students will be the big winners if you do.