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How Social Sharing Makes Better Classrooms

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Blogger is Keeping the Pre-K Spark Alive

All too often, preschool teachers feel they are alone. And all too often, they are told what they must do and how they must teach.

But, it doesn’t have to be that way, says Deborah Stewart, pre-k teacher, administrator, social media guru and blogger at TeachPreschool.org.

Her popular site was inspired by what she learned from others, a type of learning she believes can create more effective classrooms.

“The reason I started to do this is the first place is I got online and I saw teachers writing about what they were doing in the classroom,” Stewart said. “That motivated me so much more than anything I’d ever read or seen. I couldn’t wait to get up the next day and try it with my students.”

Best practices, passion, learning and fun aren’t driven by rules, Stewart argues, but by the sense play and the understanding of the students a good teacher brings to the classroom.

And when good teachers share ideas through social media, blogs or other tools, it has the potential to make all teachers better by presenting new ideas and new learning.

“The stale, the repetitive classrooms, that’s not good enough,” Stewart said. “Why should we say it is too much, it is too big, it is too hard? If teachers can see other classrooms where teachers are enjoying themselves and students are learning, they’ll see they can do it.”

Stewart believes that sometimes teachers can be trapped by the no — no messes, no side projects. And sometimes teachers can be trapped by their own influences — “this is what must be taught and how I must teach it.”

By swapping ideas with one another, teachers develop the confidence to trust their understanding of where their students are and how to best engage them.

“If you aren’t having a good time and your kids aren’t either, then I want to know who are your major influencers and if you are reaching beyond them” to do something new, she said.

She sees the lack of engagement with an outside network sometimes in the comments from newbies to her Facebook page or in the questions from readers that she answers.

Homeschooling parents want to know what learning looks like. New professionals might focus on dealing with “problem” behavior. And experienced teachers might comment that they’ve discovered they are in a rut.

Sharing through blogs, social media and other tools can make better classrooms for everyone because it invites teachers to be creative and reduce their fear of risk — so they can say “I saw that another teacher did this well.”

Want to see what Deborah Stewart is working on? Follow her blog at www.teachpreschool.org or find her on Twitter at Teach_Preschool or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/Teachpreschool.

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