Teacher support network

Designed into these learning stories:


Illustration by Future Lab

Teachers have access to an online network of experts and teachers from other subjects and schools who can be easily communicated with and with whom they can jointly plan, practice, observe and reflect upon new approach to teaching.

Miss James prepares for a history project by accessing an online network of teachers who she questions about possible approaches and resources. The online network provides a range of different tools so that Miss James can quickly find expert history teachers, as well as enabling her to communicate with them in a number of different ways: immediately through Instant Messaging and video conferencing and over a longer time period through discussion boards and wiki-spaces. She can also access the calendar function to arrange a screen-sharing interaction.

Over a few weeks, Miss James develops a trusted relationship with other remote teachers who have similar interests and challenges. The group of teachers regularly interact online to jointly plan, practice, observe and reflect upon new approach to teaching about medieval castles and together they build a set of resources that each of them use in ways that are most appropriate to their own classrooms.

During one discussion, Miss James describes a particular challenge that she is facing with two learners in her class who struggle to write written responses to her challenges. Some of her online colleagues send her links to alternative authoring tools which would allow the learners to create video explanations of their work and animations. As she receives these, she asks the teachers about how they assess such work which prompts a discussion board to be opened as lots of teachers have information about the challenges and opportunities of assessing multi-media work. Within this discussion board, links are made to ‘Media Studies’ teachers who have metrics for assessing multimedia work, and the history teachers begin to see how these approaches can be used within their work. Reviewing the discussion boards, Miss James decides on a number of resources and activities that she will use within her class.

Miss James sets her class a number of tasks based on the resources and ideas that she has developed with her online colleagues. However, during one lesson, Miss James struggles to use one resource so she uses an Instant Messaging service to ask a more experienced teacher a question to support her lesson. She is sent a link to a video that she shares with her class which prompts her to try a new activity. After the lesson, Miss James shares her progress, particularly the new activity that she started, with the network to reflect upon her own practice and to share her ideas and lessons. As part of this sharing, she is asked some challenging questions by other teachers but is able to have an open conversation which develops both her and her colleagues understanding about pedagogic approaches.

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