Log out
My profile and settings
My bookmarks
Comment history
Please complete your account verification. Resend verification email.
today
This verification token has expired.
today
Your email address has been verified. Update my profile.
today
Your account has been deactivated. Sign in to re-activate your account.
today
View all newsletters in the newsletter archive
today
You are now unsubscribed from receiving emails.
today
Sorry, we were unable to unsubscribe you at this time.
today
0
0
Back to profile
Comment Items
You have not left any comments yet.
title
you replied to a comment:
name
description
Saved Posts
You haven’t bookmarked any posts yet.
“We believe that progress should benefit everyone, everywhere.”
read more
Become a Gates Notes Insider
Sign up
Log out
Personal Information
Title
Mr
Mrs
Ms
Miss
Mx
Dr
Cancel
Save
This email is already registered
Cancel
Save
Please verify email address. Click verification link sent to this email address or resend verification email.
Cancel
Save
Address
Cancel
Save
Email and Notification Settings
Send me updates from Bill Gates
You must provide an email
On
Off
Send me Gates Notes survey emails
On
Off
Send me the weekly Top of Mind newsletter
On
Off
Email me comment notifications
On
Off
On-screen comment notifications
On
Off
Interests
Select interests to personalize your profile and experience on Gates Notes.
Saving Lives
Energy Innovation
Improving Education
Alzheimer's
Philanthropy
Book Reviews
About Bill Gates
Account Deactivation
Click the link below to begin the account deactivation process.
If you would like to permanently delete your Gates Notes account and remove it’s content, please send us a request here.
Breaking the Silo
Teachers who tweet
Melinda reflects on how social media is connecting educators like never before.
|
0

There are 3 million teachers in the United States, and they do almost all of their work on their own—teaching students, preparing lessons, solving problems—because their colleagues are down the hall in their own classrooms, doing the same thing.

That’s why I love the education conference we support each year called “Elevating and Celebrating Effective Teaching.” I attended the gathering this summer, and was blown away: teachers—in their out of class time—had organized it, run it, and were the presenters and panelists. They spent their summer vacations doing this because knew there were other teachers out there they could learn from and compare experiences with, and they suspected something big might happen if they could share their ideas with each other.

I sat in on a round-table discussion with five teachers who focused specifically on how happy they were that social media, technology, and conferences like this one were giving them more and more ways to collaborate with their millions of peers.

Barry, for example, who teaches fifth graders in New Jersey, talked about being nervous a few days before teaching a lesson on Robert Frost. “I stink at teaching Robert Frost,” he said. So he called a ninth-grade honors teacher he’d met online who’d become a mentor, and they talked about Robert Frost, tossing ideas back and forth, until he had a great lesson planned. The day after the lesson, his students got in touch with the other teacher and talked to him about what they’d learned, and by the time they were done, a class of fifth graders in New Jersey was collaborating on a project with a class of ninth graders in Illinois. This kind of thing could never have happened without technology—and without teachers who used it to collaborate in new ways.

Allison, on the other hand, after years of teaching third grade in North Carolina, was suddenly assigned to teach sixth grade. She turned to Twitter for advice and moral support; within a few minutes she had sent out a dozen tweets and started getting replies. And getting replies. And getting replies. She got ideas about project-based learning for earth science, first-week activities, and the best ways to discipline sixth graders.

The stories about teachers connecting through social media kept coming. One teacher got in touch through social media with a well-known principal in a city she was visiting and took a tour of his school. Another had the idea to ask her students to tweet their state legislators, and the legislators ended up in her classroom, discussing state education policy with her.

“Innovative educators often find themselves isolated in their schools,” said Valeria, who teaches in Florida. But more and more, she and the others at the table are finding themselves able to connect with others with the same kinds of ideas. “You don’t feel like you’re the crazy one,” said Cheryl, a junior high teacher in Arizona. “Your ideas and your perceptions resonate.”

Barry, who used to stink at teaching Robert Frost, put it best when he said, “We’re not going to live in a silo.” If this conversation was any indication, once they're outside of their old silos, teachers are going to unleash each other’s powers in very exciting ways. 

Read this next
NEXT