A New Community for Classroom Teachers

Recently, there has been a flurry of headlines about the development of online platforms where teachers can share professional resources ranging from lesson plans to summative assessments across multiple disciplines and age-levels.

Prominently, the American Federation of Teachers has partnered with TSL Education, a British publishing firm, to invest $10 million into Share My Lesson.

On its website, Share My Lesson explains that “developed by teachers for teachers, this free platform gives access to high-quality teaching resources and provides an online community where teachers can collaborate with, encourage and inspire each other.” Share My Lesson further highlights its value-add as a means to support teachers as they make the transition to Common Core Standards. (Perhaps there is an implication here that teachers might not be receiving ample support elsewhere?)

Share My Lesson allows teachers to upload and access classroom materials; it also allows teachers to rate the material uploaded by others. Thus, the online platform enables teachers—who have many critics these days—to critique one another and foster productive conversations about what actually works in a classroom while transcending state and district boundaries. Share My Lesson also clearly acknowledges the twin concerns of how to create classrooms that embrace Common Core and how support experienced teachers as they transition to Common Core.

In many ways, Share My Lesson is not a novel idea. In less than one second, a Google search of “lesson plan” yields near twenty-four million results, which suggests that many other people have used and are using the internet to distribute teaching materials.  What does appear to be novel, though, is the venture’s commitment to facilitating dialogue and building a community of educators…and its effort to address a topic—Common Core—that many in education and teacher preparation may not know how to address. Should Share My Lesson be the only opportunity for educators to communicate in this capacity?  What if a school or college of education built a similar platform for its students and alumni? Alumni at various points in their careers could support one another, teach each other, and reinforce their relationship with their alma mater. In an ideal scenario, alumni could even have the chance to connect to former professors or contribute to the creation of curriculum for incoming college students. Time will tell, but perhaps the greatest merit of the virtual community is its ability to reinforce the actual community.