Friday, 9 March 2012

The Social Network-Let’s Connect and Share

In this week’s Times Educational Supplement, I look at why sharing is the key to more creativity and raised standards  in the classroom.
Although social networking is not always acknowledged by teachers as an effective tool to help enhance and develop classroom practice, very few people are really against the idea of sharing. The intentions are always good-yes, we should share-but the reality can be very different.
Many colleagues do not share what they do in the classroom for a multitude of reasons:
“I do not do anything special”
When I hear this excuse, I always want to point out that there is only one person who can decide what is special-me! What is routine for one teacher  can be a gem for another, but nobody will know until we share what we do.
“I spent 5 hours doing this, why should they have it for free?”
Looking at it from another perspective, why shouldn’t “they”? I would personally gain more satisfaction out of seeing something I have done put to good use rather than out of knowing that no one got a freebie out of it. In addition, if your ideas and resources are widely used, you get more ideas on how to tweak them and use them creatively and to better effect.
“It is not good enough”
This is a common issue with teachers-as we are always working on improving others and ourselves, we seem to linger in the “not good enough” zone. Then again, it is up to me to decide if it is not good enough. It could be that it is great for a specific audience and really not good enough for another, but please let me make that decision myself. I am just judging you, I am just making sure that my audience get what they need…  
“I don’t have the time”
If you decide that sharing is an important part of your own professional development, then it is time well-spent. The advantage of technology-based sharing is also that it can be done at your convenience and in small doses.
 I highlight in the article many different ways to develop professional links. Some are quite traditional, like the old-fashioned face-to-face local network, others being more technology-based like the TES forums, Facebook, Twitter and Diigo.
I believe in a mix of face-to-face contacts including meeting up at big language events like ICT and Languages (#ililc) and ALL’s LanguageWorld or at informal “unconference” type of events like TeachMeets and Show and Tells. More details about these can be found here.
Sharing is the way out of the isolation in the classroom or in a small department. Let’s share and move forward together, not only will our students benefit but our job satisfaction will also increase…

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