Widening our Circles of Collaboration

When I first started my teaching career (many, many years ago) I was lucky enough to have some veteran teachers who were always willing to collaborate with me. We didn’t have coaches or mentors then, so I relied on the generosity of my colleagues to share resources, bounce ideas, and work with me.  The World Wide Web wasn’t yet available to me to tap into for TpT, Twitter, Pinterest, or Facebook. My circle of collaboration was pretty small, but it was all I knew and it sustained me.

Today my circle is ever-increasing-far beyond the walls of our school or our district. Much of that has to do with the use of social media platforms on the internet to help me follow and connect with others whose thinking I admire. Through Twitter chats I build my PLN (professional/personal learning network) by following those authors, teachers, and researchers who challenge or lift my thinking. I have also joined Voxer this year and I can be a part of groups who discuss a variety of topics and interests. Many teachers do this. It’s a simple way to stay in touch with what is current.

You can be as active or as passive as you wish with these conversations. They are welcoming places for introverts and extroverts alike.  You can read through archived chats or try to join in live. Choose your level of comfort, your topic of interest,  and participate.

One of the best things that have come out of these connections has been the personal and professional relationships I have been able to forge with others all across the country. These relationships have led me on my journey as a writer for Stenhouse Publishers, as a presenter at NCTE and ILA, and other workshops and conferences. It is wild when you work with someone for months to create a presentation and you meet in person for the first time just before your session! That wasn’t a possibility when I first started teaching.

I would encourage anyone who wants to grow professionally to reach out to those in your PLN (and build up your PLN) and look for opportunities to collaborate. Maybe your classes can connect via Skype or a blog. Maybe you want to share resources and ideas. Maybe you want to work on a professional project together.

I’ve got projects/presentations/proposals coming up with educators from Pennsylvania, Georgia, Wisconsin, New Hampshire, Ohio, Michigan…it’s incredible. You might be surprised how open others are to these types of collaborations. You’ll never know if you don’t ask.  There’s nothing to lose and so much to gain.

What’s On My Book Radar


Screen Shot 2018-01-27 at 9.27.09 AMThe first rule of punk is … Be yourself. That’s what Maria Luisa (aka Malu) is trying to do. Her mom has moved her halfway across the country to take a job in Chicago, so she leaves behind her dad to start a new school and make new friends. Unfortunately she runs up against the school’s queen bee who considers her a misfit- a “coconut “. So Malu creates a literal band of misfits who fight for the right to express themselves. I love the expressive aspects of this book, infusing Hispanic music, food, and creative zines (do it yourself magazines) with Malu’s love of punk culture. Can’t wait to try making my own zines!

6 thoughts on “Widening our Circles of Collaboration

  1. Our school system is so fortunate to have a National Board Certified Literacy Coach who always is staying up on current research and sharing ideas with us! I appreciate your love for learning and collaboration you do for us!! Thank you!!

  2. So true, Paula. I feel that social media has opened me up to a wealth of information, resources and expertise that just wasn’t possible even 10 years ago. Such an exciting time to be a teacher, even with the many challenges we face.

  3. I have widened my professional contacts as well. It used to be through conferences. Now with the internet, I can collaborate with people who are like me – personally and professionally. Being a coach and a reading specialist before, I was one of a handful of people in my district with that job title. I always welcome learning from others. We all face challenges and am happy to have some help along the way. If only there was more time!

    Personally, it has been a great blessing to connect with other writers too.

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