Finding New Pathways to Grow as a Teacher

How others have used TeachersConnect to grow professionally.

The other night, I sat listening to a couple friends chat about dating apps and websites.  They were talking about dates they’ve gone on, whom they’ve met, and honestly, a lot about how it didn’t often work out.  But it made me realize just how much technology has changed the way we meet and interact with people, both dating and in a larger sense.  You’re probably thinking right now, “Hello, Kristen… let me welcome you to 2017,” and if you were thinking just that, hear me out.

I’ve obviously experienced the numerous ways that technology has changed the ways I communicate.  As a marketing professional, I’ve read countless articles about it; as a teacher, I’ve seen the role technology plays in changing the classroom environment.  But I never fully grasped just how technology has truly widened our networks and created new pathways for personal and professional growth, until over a couple drinks my friends’ stories sparked a connection in my brain.  I realized that thanks to these new platforms and technologies, you can more easily open yourself up to opportunities to share with and hear from other teachers.  No longer are those rich, thought-provoking, and mutually beneficial discussions limited to a college classroom (or particularly stimulating professional development course if you are so lucky).  Now, whenever the thought arises you can prompt a discussion with a simple post.

With this in mind, I went on a little expedition to see what connection stories I could find in the TeachersConnect communities, and what I got back made me smile from the inside out.

“[With the community] I have been able to rekindle relationships with people that I have been mentored by prior, stay in touch with friends from my time at Loyola, and generally [help me] not feel alone in a lonely place…I see this association as a continuation of my time at Loyola where I was surrounded by brilliant mentors and brilliant friends, where tremendous personal and professional growth occurred; this online community only enhances and continues that feeling and experience.” – John Lambert, Loyola Alumni

In every community, leaders emerge who help shape and define it. John Lambert has done just that for The Loyola community by helping lead the way in creating connections amongst our teachers.  In fact, current teacher prep student and community member, Megan Sisk recently mentioned to her program supervisor how much she values her connection with John and how she is able to supplement her schooling with participation in the community.  She explained that she always felt like connecting with alumni from Loyola beyond her fellow classmates and professors would be beneficial for her, but prior to her participation in the community, she didn’t have a clear avenue to do so.  The Loyola TeachersConnect community provided a platform for her to not only contact fellow alumni, but helped her decide who within this pool had a similar mindset to her and could provide the best guidance.

“When I’m in the community, I notice the posts and gravitate to things that I relate to.  The way John phrased things was very informal and casual which made it relatable to me and other interns. The language he used made it clear that he recently graduated the program.  I liked how he would word things and would say things like ‘it’s okay, I know it’s daunting, etc.’” – Megan Sisk, Loyola Student

And the best part?  The relationship is mutually beneficial.  “I enjoy the reflective aspect of my relationship with Megan.  The relationship improves my practice because I am thinking through situations and I am helping solve problems not only for Megan, but for myself as well,” explains John.

But it doesn’t end there.  Megan has also found a kinship with another community member, Randi Jones, and they have taken their online connection a step further.  Megan plans to make a visit to Randi’s classroom in the next few weeks to observe her in action and learn from someone she already knows she trusts and looks up to.

So I leave you with this final thought:  Are you using available technologies and resources to help you consistently grow as a teacher?  If the answer is “no,” or even “maybe not,” I would like to personally welcome you to 2017 along with me. I promise, we can figure it all out together.

This article was authored by Kristen Fleury.  Kristen currently works as an 8th grade science teacher in Milton, MA.  Having only worked for one year in the classroom, she is intimately aware of the challenges that new teachers face as they start their careers.