by Elizabeth Dobler
When I was a new teacher, thirty years ago, I joined the local reading association. We met monthly to plan literacy activities for schools and the community. Many of those in my group also joined the state and international reading association, now called the International Literacy Association, which has 70,000 members worldwide. Membership in local, state, national, and international associations provided the sources for most of my professional development as an early-career educator.
Today I still belong to these associations, but attendance has decreased dramatically. Our local meetings typically have 5 to 7 people, and our state conference attendance is down from about 800 to 100 or so. What has changed? Where are educators making connections to others, learning about their field, joining together to promote literacy?
It’s not difficult to answer this question – the Internet provides educators with opportunities to network online through webinars, podcasts, blog posts, social media, video-chat, e-newsletters, and other resources, all from the comfort of a cushy chair, in bunny slippers.
Some of my favorite online resources include:
- Ian O’Byrne’s TL;DR newsletter
- Nerdy Book Club blog
- Matt Miller’s Ditch That Textbook newsletter
- edWeb.net offers many free webinars; I often sign up for them and view the webcast when I have time.
- On Facebook, I follow author Kylene Beers, researcher Julie Coiro, American Library Association Think Tank, and Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy.
I love being able to find information online to match my learning interests and style.
As those who help to prepare teachers, it’s important we share our own personal learning network, or collection of resources that support our growth as educators. Whether we make use of online or face-to-face resources, our students will benefit from hearing where we turn to continue learning.
Talk about your favorite resources or organizations and explain why you made these choices. If you are a member of a local, state, or national/international association, share your story of joining and participating in the organization and what you gain from it. Display some of the digital resources you use to continue learning and provide information for finding a certain blog or signing up for a newsletter. By describing your choices and inviting new teachers to consider their own, you are encouraging the transition from student to teacher and emphasizing the fact that, for teachers, learning is a process, rather than a destination.