Share & Connect
Palo Alto, U.S.A. –¬†The American Federation of Teachers, with Britain’s TES Connect, unveiled “Share My Lesson,” which will become the largest online community for U.S. teachers to collaborate and share teaching resources and innovative ideas, with a significant emphasis on resources to guide teachers on implementing the new Common Core State Standards. The announcement about Share My Lesson was made at the Global Education Conference at Stanford University.
“Teachers are expected to do so much, often with very little support, and they are thirsty for the tools they need to improve instruction. The AFT decided to accept the challenge and make its biggest investment ever in a tool to improve the teaching profession,” said AFT President Randi Weingarten. The AFT and TES Connect have committed $10 million to develop and maintain the site.
“Share My Lesson supports teachers by giving them a place to come together and share their knowledge, skills, lesson plans and effective classroom strategies. It’s by teachers, for teachers, and is an easy-to-use source for classroom resources‚ÄĒand it’s free. It will become every teacher’s go-to online destination for the support they need,” Weingarten said. Any educator, from preschool to college, can register and use the site.
Currently, teachers face numerous barriers to getting and sharing instructional resources on the Internet. Often, “free resource” sites have hidden costs, search functions aren’t specific enough, uploading is cumbersome and there is no one-stop shop. Share My Lesson addresses all of that with a system that categorizes resources by grade level, subject and type of resource, such as a video or handout, and importantly, it’s free to use.
The site will belong to teachers by allowing users to upload their own resources, review and rate resources on the site, and download anything, all at no charge. Additionally, the user-generated content will be supplemented by tens of thousands of resources from hundreds of content partners, including Sesame Street, Oxfam, Green TV and the Encyclopaedia Britannica. When it officially launches on July 28 at the AFT convention in Detroit, Share My Lesson expects to have more than 200,000 resources available and 100,000 U.S. teachers registered.
The digital platform is a joint venture of the AFT and TES Connect, the world’s largest network of teachers with more than 2 million teacher members, which offers more than 400,000 resources and logs 2.5 million downloads weekly.
“Teachers are the most important in-school influence on a child’s education. If you give teachers the chance, they will willingly share their best ideas, most inspiring teaching methods and most effective lessons without hesitation,” said Louise Rogers, CEO of TSL Education, the parent company of TES Connect. “We know from running TES Connect that when teachers start sharing their vast knowledge and experience with each other, their lessons get more creative, better and more effective.”
One significant feature will involve advice, guidance and dedicated resources to support the Common Core State Standards, which are the new math and language arts standards that reflect the knowledge and skills students need to succeed in college and career. Teachers will be implementing the standards this fall in 46 states and Washington, D.C., and yet many have not received the support and help they need. By the 2014-15 school year, there will be new assessments aligned with the standards.
“For teachers to help students succeed, they need in-school professional development as well as the wealth of resources and peer-to-peer connections that will be available through Share My Lesson. Teachers are craving tools and support to help their students succeed,” Weingarten said.
The need is great, she said, noting that 50 percent of teachers leave the teaching profession within their first five years because of a lack of support, deep education budget cuts and other frustrations. This teacher-turnover crisis costs $7.3 billion annually, with unknown costs to children’s education.
Weingarten said Share My Lesson is the latest in a series of innovative, entrepreneurial approaches that the AFT has been developing and supporting to improve teaching and learning.
“I believe that this initiative is the single most important tool the AFT has launched in over a generation,” Weingarten said.