Private school teachers do not belong to a teachers' union. One of the great strengths of a union is that it connects like-minded workers, keeps them informed of trends within their industry, and promotes solidarity. These are all laudable aims. How do private school teachers get connected with others in their profession?
Keep your network current
Think of all the people you meet in person or electronically every day. Keep email addresses for those colleagues and others whom you consider valuable in some way. Perhaps you admire a colleague for her leadership in a particular area such as online learning or podcasting. Leave a comment on her blog. Email her. You don't have to write an epistle. A few words of positive support and encouragement are all that is needed. Ask for help. It is impossible for anybody to have all the answers. Your colleagues are a wonderful resource. Keeping your network current allows you to utilize those resources fully.
Connect on ATLIS
Interacting with your colleagues is something you need to do regularly. Join the discussions on ATLIS (The Association of Technology Leaders in Independent Schools) Express your opinions. Learn from what others are saying. ATLIS offers virtual events and a career corner. as well as many other resources for the busy independent school teacher.
Podcasting is an effective way of letting people know what you do. Podcast Insights has a list of podcast hosting sites, several of which are free. Keep your podcasts short and tightly focused on a particular topic. Including guests on your podcast adds to the interest.
This video shows you how to set up a podcast.
Blogging is another effective way for you to stay connected. Blogging is free. It's easy to do. Think of blogging as an electronic journal. Jot down your thoughts. No need to fuss about syntax or grammar. Blogging is free-form. Read other blogs. Leave comments for those bloggers. Check out WordPress for ideas and templates for your blog.
Vlogging is the combination of video and blog. For a teacher, this is a powerful way of sharing your expertise. Watching you actually doing whatever you are explaining is the essence of teaching. Vlogging allows you to share your passions and creativity with colleagues everywhere. To get started, all you need is a smartphone and a social media account.
This video shows you how to be a vlogger.
RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds help keep you connected to news and information you want to know. Simply put, there is far too much information out there for us to manage efficiently. In the old days, you bought magazines and subscribed to journals. That's just not a 'green' solution to information gathering. All the information which you need is online anyway. Use an aggregator such as Feedly to collect the articles you want to read. Then spend an hour or so weekly scanning the material you have selected.
This video shows you how to use RSS feeds.
Attend regional and national conferences
Attending regional and national conferences is a great way to meet colleagues, learn new ideas and techniques, and generally heighten your awareness of current trends in your chosen profession. Most private schools have budgeted for such events because they benefit the school as well. With the onset of the pandemic in 2020, most gatherings take place online via Zoom and similar platforms. Your state association of independent schools will have a listing of webinars.
Completing your master's degree or taking courses towards an additional certificate also has the benefit of connecting you with new colleagues. Consider applying to be an Edward E. Ford Foundation or Klingenstein Fellow. Both these organizations have independent schools as their focus.
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