Where Can Teachers Start? Step 1: Look to Your Peers

I'm in awe of what great educators do on a daily basis -- inspire kids to learn and feed their curiosity. With so much on their plate, they still push themselves to do more with mountains of obstacles stacked against them.

Take, for instance, the reader who recently sent me a note.

I am a middle level educator that thought he was on top of the technology wave. I use web-based tools like Google docs and Moodle, have my kids computing daily, and have a Promethean board going all day long. Recently, my principal (who is also on the tech wagon) encouraged me to follow some Twitter feeds. The incredible mass of people that are looking way beyond the next 6 months has me reeling! I'm excited, giddy, and as eager as a puppy to dive into this stuff. Problem is that I don't know exactly where to start.

In reading your article about what won't be in schools ten years from now, I found great thoughts. Now I want to know how to make them happen. Are there places I can turn to see what is going on in classrooms more advanced technology-wise than mine? For instance, I can almost see how we can personalize learning for all in one to one computing setups, but is anyone doing that?  I know I can figure it out, but I'm pretty busy, here. Any chance you can point me in some directions?

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I've been wondering that myself. For educators who want to dig in, where do they start? The vast amounts of information can be overwhelming. Is there a central repository that guides busy teachers step-by-step?

Unfortunately, no.

Eric Sheninger, the principal of New Milford High School in Bergen County, New Jersey, who up until two years ago, was completely unplugged from web 2.0, says his learning curve was steep. "You have to start small," Sheninger said. "There are so many different tools. Just take it one step at a time."

Here's a start:

  • Powerful Learning Practice (PLP) is a professional networking site for teachers, and apart from moral support, they offer specific ways to dive in. In fact, this post is called "Some Tips for Getting Started" written by a teacher in Oslo, Norway, shows that it doesn't matter where you live or teach -- the world is tightly connected.
  • Larry Ferlazzo's useful list of websites and resources for teachers.
  • Edutopia's thriving community is categorized by grades and subjects, so teachers can easily find like-minded peers and ask for advice.
  • Start your own social community online or follow one, such as Educators PLN or Classroom 2.0.

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I'd love to hear from other educators who recently embarked on the path to transforming their teaching practice. What was your first step?

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