Monday, March 16, 2015

Building A Community Among Educators

As I come contemplate the ending of my undergraduate degree, I am becoming more and more aware of how nervous I am about teachers college. In the concurrent education program we are beginning to get more and more information about how teachers college will run, and with this I will admit that I have a fair amount of apprehension. I believe that this comes from a lack of practice with lesson planning, unit design and the understanding of curriculum documents. I am very thankful for the practice I have gotten through a few educational based classes; however, I do wish that I had even more practice. I am aware that a lot of my peers are also feeling the same way, but that doesn't stop a lot of my questioning surrounding my potential merits as a teacher.

Last week, our Education class was very fortunate to have a guest speaker come into our lecture. Susan Kwiecien (along with a business partner) discussed with us her personally created resource Cube For Teachers. This educational database invites teachers (working within the Ontario curriculum) to share resources with other teachers, broadening the database of activities, ideas and lessons available to the Ontario Teacher. What is so wonderful about this, is that all the sources are verified to be in line with the Ontario Curriculum guidelines, and allows for teachers to effectively find and manage their own resource base online. Honestly, I was so excited and thrilled to look deeper into "The Cube" and fully understand its capabilities. In the broad horizons of the 21st Century educational skills we have been studying in class I have been very focussed on how 21st Century skills and literacies can positively benefit a student yet, I failed to fully imagine how these tools and resources can also benefit a teacher.
As I continue to find myself unsure about my prospects in teachers college, finding resources like "The Cube" help to reassure me that we are not alone in our place within the educational system. Seeing the ways in which teachers from across the province (and country) can positively affect each other as well as their willingness to share is a very positive notion. Gone are the days of long Google searches where individuals were asked to find their own resources and situate them within a curriculum approved context. Instead comes an online community in which teachers help each other to situate these resources, where teachers themselves become the curators if their own online platform. In learning about these resources something hit me. That as teachers, we will not be alone in our work.

It sounds silly, but in my trepidation surrounding my future career, it never occurred to me that there is a very prevalent social support system within the education world. Not only will we have our peers and professors during teachers college, but every placement and volunteer opportunity can potentially lead to the creation and development of ones social network. Furthermore, with the emergence of online communities such as OSSEMOOC or Cube For Teachers, educators and teacher candidates are invited into a conversation with a broad and welcoming network of peers. In the 21st Century context, educators are asked and able to integrate technology into their classrooms. In the BYOD generation, where most students have some sort of technology teachers are asked to make learning come alive with technology. Teachers; however, forget about the capacity for professional development as a result of online resources and communities. In seeing Cube For Teachers I think it is plain to see that the capacity for technological learning does not stop with our student, and instead extends into the pedagogical approaches and support for ourselves as well.


  1. Hi Allyson;
    I think that you will find it very easy to build your PLN as an educator. If you have a blog - which you do - where you can share your learning and resources, and you have a twitter account to let others know what and when you are sharing, you are well on your way!

    Adding some GAFE tools to collaborate with others allows for some nice work flow as you start to own your own professional learning.

    #OSSEMOOC can help you find what is happening in Ontario. Follow the Ontario educator lists maintained by @dougpete. Continue to contribute regularly and you will be part of an amazing network of educators that share openly and often.

    Congratulations on a great start to your career!

    1. Thank you for the suggestions Donna! I can already see the wonders that social networking will do for professional development and understanding. I will definitely try out some more of the tools that you have shared with me. Have a wonderful week!

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  3. Hi Allyson,
    I really enjoy your blog already because it displays your ability to bridge your education skills with those of your impressive writing ability. These things carry over so well into your blog and display how well you learn new technologies. The way you navigate the internet and are learning to use things like CUBE will help so much next year as well as the fact that you are already a part of the Brock Faculty of Education even before teachers college! You will be amazing :) -KP

  4. How exciting to get a response from Donna. Yes you have started your own PLN!!! I hope you will take her suggestions up and would be happy to have you tell the class about this Monday night. You have a real world context example and that is worth its weight in gold. As you say in your final blog you are starting your own branding in a positive way. I am also happy that you got so much from Cube for Teachers. It is a great resource and there are many more like them. It is natural to be nervous re next year but you do seem like a natural. So don't give up. :-)

  5. Allyson, there are many things that I can agree with you about in this blog! First, as we both move on to our final year of the Teacher Education program there are many emotions and feelings that come with this. Although I have fortunately had a lot of prior experience understanding the components of a lesson, unit and curriculum from many of my Health and Physical Education courses, I have no doubt you will catch on quickly in your fifth year! I also think it is safe to say that Susan Kwiecien (a co – founder for Cube for Teachers) made all of our jaws drop with her online resource for Ontario teachers. After learning and creating a profile for this website I cannot stop using it! I believe one of the greatest components of this resource as you mentioned is the fact that it aligns so perfectly with the Ontario curriculum. Even the overall and specific expectations are available to us… how handy is that! It is also over-whelming to know that there is a whole online world of education at our fingertips that as new teachers we don’t even know about. This online resource is only one of many that allow teachers to efficiently, connect and share with other educators and like Dean Shareski mentioned in his webinar that as professionals “this is our responsibility.” Although I am still worried about next year and fully stepping into the “teacher’s shoes,” I am excited and relieved that as inexperienced teachers we have the support from peers, colleagues and a whole online community. Overall, I really connected with your blog this week since technology is not just an asset for the students but just us, as teachers as well.

  6. Hey glad to see you on the OSSEMOOC page. Check out their Fall courses to really be in the 21st Century.