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Baking Soda, Vinegar, and Educator Community: Connections to Catalyze Change

Baking Soda, Vinegar, and Educator Community: Connections to Catalyze Change

In educator professional learning communities (PLCs), we understand that educators are expected to open their classroom door and share out best practices. This makes sense, and sounds easy, right? Why would you not ask for help from fellow educators to handle the heavy lifting? In today’s educational world, with the myriad of digital resources and convenient modes of communication available, it seems silly not to connect. But the action of building an authentic educator community is about much more than simply finding out a new way to teach fractions. A meaningful community tackles the small(er) technical questions of practice, as well as the big difficult ones today’s educators face that lie often at the intersection of pedagogy, philosophy, society, and moral code.

With the Edmentum Educator Network, we’re trying to build this kind of truly meaningful community. Our Network is a think tank of educators from all over the world asking and answering the complicated questions that impact all realms of instruction, and more importantly, supporting one another through the process. This happens with multi-media approaches, talking through issues through via email, polls, virtual conferences, blogs, and face-to-face summits and panels. 

Questions like these have sparked conversation and driven new practices amongst the educators in our group:

  • What is the difference between learning and education?
  • How do you address student engagement?
  • How can educators address school-related trauma and student mental health concerns that are becoming increasingly prevalent?
  • What can educators do to manage the stresses of this profession and maintain their own mental health and job satisfaction?
  • What is the relationship between school and social justice?
  • Do children have a right to an education?
  • Should higher education be free?
  • Should early childhood education focus on subject knowledge or social skills?
  • When is it too early to start offering career and technical education (CTE) instruction?
  • What is educators’ role in involving and guiding students in the digital worlds of the internet and social media?
  • Can you teach someone who has no desire to learn? Is there anyone who actually has no desire to learn?

These are ideas which exist far beyond the concept of teaching fractions, yet these questions play a critical role in every educators’ practice, whether they are in the classroom or the front office. Teaching is more than just a job; it's an ever-surprising mix of grueling hard work and ecstatic successes. Part of what keeps educators energized (and sometimes overwhelmed) is the always evolving job description.  Building educator community allows for a sharing of ideas and adds color to your own kaleidoscope of ideas and values. It helps you think big picture. How do you answer these questions? How do you share your viewpoint? Where are you growing?

It's nearly impossible to become bored or stagnant with a job as interesting as teaching. Educators are constantly engaged in discovering creative ways to solve a multitude of daily obstacles. Educators delight in the chance to grow and evolve. Connecting with other educators feeds that need and opens up new possibilities. Within the Educator Network, it our goal to facilitate these experiences—things like becoming a teacher leader; connecting with educators who have expertise in the challenges that are blocking your students from success; finding the classroom and student strategies that make the difference; and sometimes, reigniting your inspiration for the profession.  You know, the little things.

In science class we learn that when one element connects to another, they are both changed irrevocably. Baking soda hits vinegar and bam-, there is change. When educators connect, especially when they connect with intention and compassion, the same can happen. The resulting change can lead to amazing things.

So, I challenge you to take your involvement in our change-making community to the next level. Use the questions above to start a conversation with your coworkers, or share your own questions and insights in the Edmentum Educator Network’s Facebook page and see what bubbles up. Tweet your ideas out. Reach out to a colleague or fellow Network member whose perspective you want to learn more about. Apply to attend our next Educator Summit event. Be brave, test the waters, and connect in the way that makes the most sense to you. But connect.

Know an outstanding educator who would add to and benefit from our community? Invite them to join the Educator Network!

sarah.cornelius@edmentum.com's picture

Sarah Cornelius is a Senior Marketing Specialist at Edmentum and has been with the company since 2014. In her role, she works to provide educators with engaging and insightful resources. Sarah received her B.S. in Professional Communications and Emerging Media from the University of Wisconsin - Stout.

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