Your Online Professional Learning Community
By: Gabriela Orozco Gonzalez, Montebello Teachers Association
Want to connect with educators who share your passion for teaching visual art? Need to commune with other new teachers? Are you an ESP with a hot topic for discussion?
NEA edCommunities is the place for you. It is an online professional practice and learning area where educators can share their strengths, exchange ideas and resources, create innovative materials and tools, join webinars, and engage with others who are committed to improving student success.
Free and open to all, it allows you to:
- Connect with colleagues across the country and with virtual learning events to expand your professional development opportunities.
- Collaborate with other educators and education professionals.
- Share classroom-ready resources and assessment and instruction materials.
- Explore new ways of teaching and learning that work for your students.
You can customize your NEA edCommunities experience by selecting topic categories that match your interests, such as professional practice, leadership, and social justice. From there, you can find relevant groups to follow. You can also start a group to advocate and collaborate on an issue that matters to your students and school.
CTA’s Gabriela Orozco Gonzalez, a member of the Montebello Teachers Association, oversees the thriving Common Core K-5 group, which she started four years ago. The group aligns with her interests and expertise. In addition to teaching, she presents on the Common Core with CTA’s Instructional Leadership Corps and at conferences, and maintains a blog devoted to the topic (Common Core Café, commoncorecafe.blogspot.com).
Gonzalez finds that NEA edCommunities offers opportunity to expand on her work. “I started the group because there are always questions after I present that I can’t get to, and my blog doesn’t lend itself to collaboration,” she says. “The group is a great way for people to collaborate with me and with each other, and to share resources and ideas — nationally.”
She notes that the posts and discussions are broad, ranging from lesson and unit plans and cross-curricular approaches to literacy to math manipulatives and getting your classroom ready for the year.
Just a few of the many other groups in the professional practice category:
- Digital Tools and Learning (by grade levels)
- Gifted and Talented in the 21st Century
- Culturally Responsive Teaching
- Middle School Strategies
- National Board Certification
- Secondary Math 6-12
- The Power of Health and PE
Gonzalez thinks the advantages of NEA edCommunities are great and obvious. “It’s one of the largest professional learning communities for educators across the nation,” she says. “It’s a professional practice group where we connect and support each other, focusing on improving student success. This is something provided with our membership, and it’s free. We need to use all the resources we have out there.”
Join thousands of other educators on NEA edCommunities at mynea360.org.
Practical tips from teachers just like you
From teaching strategies to classroom resources, Works4Me offers ideas and tips for student success from educators all over the country. Part of NEA edCommunities, Works4Me encourages educator submissions, which are shared online as well as in a biweekly newsletter.
Recent newsletter offerings have included mentoring first-year teachers, a description of and link to great virtual engineering field trips (at real engineering projects nationwide), and “Classroom Management Must-Have Strategies” from retired Iowa teacher Katie Ortiz, who listed a few classroom management basics that could work for any grade level:
- Teach people first, subject second.
- Praise work and effort, not ability or intelligence.
- Prepare well.
- Show enthusiasm for learning.
- Use mobility, proximity and facial expressions.
- Know your triggers and disengage emotionally when your buttons are pushed.
- Be what you want students to be. Teach behavior by modeling.
Further details about each of these are online, as are many other tips on multiple topics. See them all, and sign up for the newsletter, at nea.org/works4me.
Support When You Need It
One of the easiest ways to search all of NEA’s professional supports content is through supported.nea.org. Use the search bar to find exactly what you’re looking for.