Stay Connected: Online Resources for Professional Development

It can be challenging to maintain a focus on professional development during the summer: our lives are busy--personal challenges often take priority over professional goals, and in an effort to keep a work-life balance, we may abandon our teacher mindset when we’re off-the-clock. While this downtime is critical to returning to the classroom rejuvenated come fall, there are ways for teachers to stay in touch with the education world and avoid a “summer slide” of their own! The resources listed below provide online opportunities for teachers to connect, reflect, and engage in the “education conversation” outside of school.

Twitter

Twitter is an ideal platform for teachers to connect with their peers across the world. You can #hashtag their comments so that they appear in a particular conversation, or respond to a peer by directing your message to @theirtwitterhandle. You can follow or subscribe to educational organizations.

The 160-character limit creates an environment that’s much like a face-to-face conversation--short remarks that are happening in real-time. An article from Education World calls Twitter “the virtual water cooler”--check it out for more information on how to use Twitter for professional development: http://www.educationworld.com/a_tech/using-twitter-for-professional-development.shtml

Explore these hashtags to see what teachers and TOSAs are talking about right now:

#edchat #caedchat #connectTL #tosachat

Portfolio-building websites

Building a teacher portfolio can be a reflective practice--it's an opportunity to decide what’s most important to you, what you’re proud of, and how you see yourself as an educator. Whether you’re a new teacher fresh out of college, or a tenured teacher planning to complete your career in your current district, portfolio-building can help you define your goals and highlight your success. A portfolio can function as a scrapbook, a visual resume, or a glimpse into your classroom for curious parents.

Consider displaying successful lesson plans, photos, classroom management plans, and your teaching philosophy. Creating (or updating) these components is an opportunity to revisit what’s at the heart of your role as a teacher.

You can create a digital portfolio that’s as simple as a one page introduction, to an interactive multi-page platform--the opportunities are endless!

PortfolioGen: This website provides free online software and templates for teachers to share “lesson plans, practices, philosophies, resume, transcripts, certifications, education, presentations, publications, reflections, professional development activities, photos, video, and related links.”

Weebly: This web-hosting service offers an easy-to-use platform for beginners--drag and drop tools and templates will help you design an online portfolio that’s professional and consistent. You can add a blog to your website to keep visitors up-to-date on what’s happening in your classroom.

Edutopia

Edutopia is an incredibly rich resource for teachers--offering articles, tools, videos, blogs and forums, the site is number one when it comes to connecting and providing information to teachers. It’s much more than your standard education website; covering everything from classroom management to educational policy; from what it means to be a teacher, to innovative tech tools.

Visit http://www.edutopia.org/teacher-development for Edutopia’s resources on professional development and leadership.

Reddit

Reddit isn’t necessarily the first website that might come to mind when you’re looking for a professional resource. The platform hosts a community of millions who post on any topic they are interested in. While it’s certainly has its fair share of silly memes and pointless posts, there are a lot of threads for educators where meaningful conversations are taking place. You can simply browse threads, or participate the conversation by creating a profile. Comments are “upvoted” when other users find them interesting, inspiring or funny.

You can search specifically for your information on your field (ie. “Science teachers”), or a professional development topic you’re interested in (ie. “Educational technology”), or just get started on https://www.reddit.com/r/Teachers/.

What websites do you use for professional development outside of school?