Sites Mimicking Social Networks Set Up for Staff Development
As support and professional-development opportunities for teachers begin to move from conference rooms to chat rooms, a burgeoning number of states and districts are drawing on features from course-management software and popular social-networking sites to establish online networks connecting teachers to peers who may live dozens or even hundreds of miles away.
Conceptually, these teacher networks reflect the “learning team” approach to professional development, in which teachers at a school site seek feedback, glean new ideas, and reflect on instructional practices through discussions with their colleagues. To this, the online networking adds the ability for teachers to connect to peers at any time of the day or night, say experts familiar with the networks.
“In the 21st century, no teacher should have to say he feels alone,” said Tom Carroll, the president of the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future . The Washington-based advocacy group, which works to improve teaching standards, supports online teacher-networking projects in Denver, Memphis, Tenn., and Seattle as part of its Teachers Linked In Networked Communities initiative. “These teachers grew up connected. They have Facebook, they’re texting, they’re e-mailing. It’s time for us to bring their schoolwork into...
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