I hate feeling alone. I hate not knowing if how I’m teaching something is the best way to teach it. There are millions of things you can present to students and it’s always my goal to do the best I can with what I have to work with. But what if that’s very little? Being back in 7th grade after a two year hiatus from teaching English, and jumping into new standards without updated curriculum has been a lot of work indeed. It’s work, however, that I’m enjoying as I’ve been able to experiment with the standards and read texts I’ve never used before. Doing so has really expanded my repertoire of teaching material.
This semester I decided I was going to teach two new-to-me novels in order to be more in line with one of the other middle schools in my district. Clearly, the first step was to read them. Then I scoured the internet for lesson plans and Common Core units, but piecing multiple sources together is often hard. After running into @filledwithjoy1, a teacher at that other middle school, I decided the best thing to do would be to simply ask her for help. After all, she has been teaching 7th grade English her entire career. She must be a pro. We chatted about the books for a bit and after we left I followed up with an email. I asked her if I could join her Google Classroom as a student to see her assignment posts for the two novels I was attempting with my own students. She graciously agreed to allow me to join her class. As she posted new assignments, I would email her with questions about them, ask about how instruction was delivered, and how students responded. This has been a planning life saver, and I have been able to develop my own units with the guidance of her near daily posts and feedback.
We don’t often have time to collaborate with other teachers at our own school let alone with teachers at others. It is collaboration, however, which leads to student achievement. Through my digital dealings with @filledwithjoy1, I’m doing more than just “stealing” good lesson ideas. I’m building a relationship that has been very good for my emotional health as well as wonderful for the relationship between our schools’ English departments. Connecting with her digitally via Google Classroom has given me TIME to collaborate. I can log in and peak into her classroom at whatever time I want. I have come to understand that collaboration doesn’t have to come in a face to face meeting. I can email her my questions or send her private message a message via Google Classroom itself. What’s even nicer is that she always responds.
Google Classroom can also be used to mentor a new teacher. My husband @citizenwoz has also been doing this all year with a new teacher in his department. New to teaching technology, he invited her to join his Google Classroom where she stays a few days behind him in her teaching to learn the new curriculum she has been given. It is my hope to continue this practice of inviting teachers into my Google Classroom and joining others to not only inspire new ideas but to share the workload.