About a month ago, we launched a Facebook group with a simple mission: connect middle school math teachers who are using Maneuvering the Middle curriculum. Teachers can often dwell in a vacuum — there were days that I barely saw another adult when I was teaching. It can feel isolating, so we set a goal that our Facebook group would be a place of teacher collaboration and encouragement.
During CAMT, we met so many teachers who shared creative ways they use our activities (ways we had never thought of), and it really made us think that teachers who use the curriculum each and every day are truly the experts in how to execute the daily lessons. Often we get asked questions, and we do our best to answer, but what’s better: one answer or several answers?
Benefits of Online Teacher Collaboration
More Teachers = More Student Achievement
I love this quote by Lauren Davis: “The beauty of collaboration is not only the ability to tap into various perspectives and ideas, but also to share responsibility for our students’ learning. The more people invested in a student’s education, the better the chance that student has to be successful.”
Even the largest schools are limited in the number of teachers who can collaborate together. My school consisted of one math teacher per grade level, 2-3 special education teachers, and a math assistant principal. If I wanted input on how to approach a skill or a concept specific to 6th grade, there were always people willing to help, but they were not always able to provide the expertise I needed.
However, when a teacher posts a specific question in a Facebook group, they could receive answers from multiple teachers with varying levels of expertise and perspectives. Not only that, but unlike just Googling for ideas, asking a question in a Facebook group allows the questioner to give the context and specifics so that teachers responding can be as helpful as possible in tailoring their response to meet the questioner’s needs.
In our Facebook group, we have many teachers who have taught for more than 20 years and a few who have taught for more than 30 years. All of this teaching expertise in one space can impact students all over the world. Technology allows teachers from Texas to learn from and implement practices that teachers from Ohio suggest.
A Positive Community
We have teachers who reach out to us to say that they are grateful for this online community because they don’t have any positive community at school, which is great to hear but is also a real bummer. We wish all schools had happy teachers that worked well together (for the sake of other teachers and students), but that is not the world we live in. If you do have this at your school, that is so great! Please share what makes your school a great place to work. But if this does not sound like your school, then you can receive encouragement in our Facebook group.
Each week, we post our wins and cheer for other teachers’ wins! If no one has told you that you are doing a great job at your school, we will!
Personally, I used to get so discouraged year after year trying new things with my students only to see my students’ mastery in certain skills stay stagnant.
I would get so discouraged wondering why my students were not following directions.
I would think, “I’ve been doing this for seven years; why am I not better at this by now!?”
When I read the posts from teachers all over the country who were asking for help for the very same things, it would remind me that TEACHING IS HARD, and I am not giving myself enough credit.
Like I said earlier, our Facebook group has only been around for a little over a month, and in that short time, I have read SO MANY GREAT IDEAS that I would have never thought of. Teacher collaboration at its finest. I am going to just drop some of them right here:
In response to how they teach decimal operations:
In response to how to teach Pythagorean’s Theorem:
On how to stay organized with the curriculum:
On their wins for the week:
We would love for you to join our Facebook group – Maneuvering the Middle VIPS. Remember to answer all the questions and agree to the rules so that you can get in. What groups have helped you in your teaching experience?