- Rutherford County Schools (TN) Instructional Technology Coach Stephanie Smith writes for eSchool News that online communities can make a huge difference for educators, given that teaching can sometimes feel like a lonely profession.
- She writes that apps like ClassDojo can help build communities between teachers and families, and that Twitter hashtags offer access to robust communities of practice.
- Not only can the passion and insight on display from others in these communities inspire educators' daily practices, but they can offer a support net that encourages educators to push on and try new things.
Online communities aren't just benefiting classroom teachers: Administrators are finding them useful, as well. Smartphones offer educators from the classroom up to the superintendent's office instant access to thousands of their peers nationwide, with a simple tap or swipe.
As former Bettendorf High School (IA) Principal Jimmy Casas said during a conference in 2016, if you ask staff to do something, such as being connected to stakeholders via social media, you must be willing to do it yourself. As he also noted, at the core of all professional learning communities are the three C's (communication, collaboration and community), as well as the three R's (relationships, relationships and relationships).
Additionally, schools can benefit from encouraging the formation of professional learning communities within their own walls. Research has shown that participation in PLCs can improve teaching practices, as well as student learning, proficiency, and school structure and culture.