Saturday, January 15, 2011

Finding Like Minds: The triumph of social networking for teachers

I do teach English to great kids and there is some great learning happening there, but there are also some wonderful synergies going on in the adult world that I wanted to post about for a moment.

A few weeks ago I got it into my head that I wanted to put together a session for the annual convention of the National Council of Teacher's of English about the ways the digital world is changing my pedagogy in the classroom. This presented a few challenges. First, there aren't very many people I know locally who have the digital opportunities I have to change their pedagogy. That is coming in quickly, but not here yet. Those who I do know locally were unlikely to be willing or able to travel to Chicago in November for the convention.

Knowing that NCTE vastly favors panel presentations over individuals I set out to find those few teachers who could fit both needs, a. using technology to change pedagogy and b. be willing to travel to Chicago in November.

I posted on the EnglishCompanionNING, Twitter and a Facebook group I belong to for English teachers. It worked. I got a response from each one and put together a group of great teachers who are using technology to change their teaching and they are all willing and eager to attend the convention.

We drafted our proposal collaboratively in Google Docs and I used a Google Form to collect the contact info I need for the participant data form.

I did not know any of these teachers before. Two of us are west coast and two are east coast. We have never met and likely won't until we are all together in Chicago. Without the social networking tools available and widely used by teachers I would never have found these women. Now we will collaborate, present together (hopefully), and likely work together again in the future.