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A big part of what makes us effective teachers is staying up to date on what’s going on in our profession. We do this for many reasons: to help our students learn better, to build a supportive network of colleagues, to get that minuscule pay raise at review time… But there is another, better reason to stay current: many of the innovations happening in teaching today, be it methodology, policy or technology, can make our lives easier. They can save us time, they make our classes more fun for students (and for us!), and overall make our day-to-day better.
Learning New Tools
How many colleagues do you know who are still doing paper flashcards in class and missing out on how fun and productive 10 minutes of Quizlet can be? Learning about tools like Quizlet is also professional development, whether we formalize it or not.
Professional development takes time, though, and, let’s be honest, it tends to happen at the most inconvenient times of the year: the week before classes start, when we’re struggling to get everything ready for our students, or the week after classes are over, when we’re swamped with grading and reporting tasks.
Using Social Media
Wouldn’t it be great to have your professional development in short, informative, convenient snippets that you access when you have the time? In other words, what if we consumed professional development content in the same way we consume content from social media?
That’s actually how I learned about Quizlet and Gimkit: because professionals like me kept posting on Facebook teacher groups how great these tools had worked them.
Here are a few social media tech-loving teacher groups and tech-specific newsletters that can “feed” professional development content to your fingertips (TIP: if you are afraid of newsletters clogging your inbox – that’s what parents are for, after all – create rules to send all newsletters to a separate folder. You can skim whatever is in that folder whenever you have free time without it pushing down important emails. Here’s how you set up rules in Gmail and Outlook.)
On Facebook, search for these groups and pages:
- Tech for World Language Teachers
- Class Tech Tips
- Technology for Language Teaching and Learning
- Educational Technology
- Free Technology for Teachers
Educational technology blogs and professional associations with newsletters you can subscribe to:
- Smartbrief Education
- Extempore’s Blog
- Emerging Educational Technology
- Nik’s Learning Technology Blog For English Language Teachers
- EdSurge: Educational Technology News and Resources
- Technology for Language Learning