As you navigate through the rest of your life, be open to collaboration. Other people and other people’s ideas are often better than your own. Find a group of people who challenge and inspire you, spend a lot of time with them, and it will change your life. -Amy Poehler

What do educators talk about?  Even when not in the classroom, getting a bunch of educators together means “school talk”.  At a recent social gathering, I found myself huddling up with my teacher friends and commiserating with them about the ending of summer and the beginning of another year.  It is ironic that in a profession so centered around human interaction, teachers often find themselves feeling very isolated.

Spending time with other educators, engaging in meaningful conversations and talking through ideas is critical for effective teaching.  With the addition of new and ever-changing technologies, that collaboration is more necessary than ever.  Some teachers push through new ground effortlessly and others may need a little more guidance.  When experiencing difficulty, some teachers may feel reluctant to ask for help.  Others may feel they are the only one having difficulty.  We are quick to encourage collaboration with our own students and less likely to engage in it ourselves.

At the school district level and at my school level, we believe firmly in the “Train the Trainer” model.  Empowering teachers at their own schools builds a cadre of knowledge.  With the implementation of the iPads, the 3 of us who participated in the original pilot worked with our staff to train them.  We created a vanguard of sorts by also working closely with our school technology committee.  This committee consists of one teacher from each grade level.  This way, each grade level team had a point-person to check with first if questions or problems arose.  Our technology committee meets monthly to go over what is working and what needs attention.  Grade level teams meet weekly. During these meetings, we have a “Ten Minute Tech Time”.  We share what we are doing in our classrooms with the iPads and discuss any questions or issues that we may be having.  This built in time ensures that teachers are voicing their ideas, questions, and/or problems.  Our school district’s Ed Tech team are frequent visitors in our school and in our meetings.  They are quick to offer support, suggestions and solutions.

Teaching today is hard enough.  Collaborating with your colleagues and other educators can broaden ideas, provide support within the system and sustain teachers as we all navigate through the Technology Turnpike.

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