Want a lesson idea fast? Reached the end of your rope with a problematic student? Need to discuss something you can’t talk about with anyone at your school? Have a fabulous idea you can’t wait to share?
An easy solution is to visit an online message board for teachers. You can post a question and get an endless supply of answers. They’re all free and none require any obligation of time beyond that which you want to personally invest. Most are archived and searchable, making it easy for you to read discussions. My top four recommendations are:
Teachers.Net: This might be the largest message forum for educators, with 150 niche boards on every educational topic imaginable (including one for each state, which is useful when you’re looking for local advice or need opinions about teaching somewhere else). If you need a quick answer on anything, your best bet is T-Net (try the main board, which gets dozens of posts every hour). The downside? T-Net’s large size means that posts are only archived for a short time. Also, there can be a negative and critical vibe since many posts are anonymous: this is especially true on the state boards on which people endlessly complain about their school districts. However, I still like T-Net because of the vast number of specialized boards and the enormous amount of teachers you can connect with quickly.
Pro Teacher: Here you’ll find a streamlined system of boards with numerous active members. I discovered the site through a few of my loyal followers who frequently post on ProTeacher: I started reading their messages, and became a long-time lurker. I find the site slightly less user-friendly then some of the other boards, but the quality of posts more than compensates, and all threads are permanently archived.
AtoZTeacherStuff was the first set of message boards I used back in 2001, and I have several longtime internet buddies on AtoZ who helped me through many rough times and transitions. The site’s creator, Amanda, is an amazing and resourceful woman who carefully moderates the forums and makes sure the entire website is full of useful and relevant resources for teachers. The message board archives are fully searchable, so you can find ideas on nearly any topic. Because members post personal profiles and interact regularly, there is a great sense of community at AtoZ and a positive, encouraging tone to the discussions.
The Cornerstone yGroup (Yahoo Group) is different from the other message boards because you join via email, then you choose how you want to be updated (by visiting the web page, getting a daily digest via email or an individual email every time someone posts, or getting email updates from the group’s creator, which is moi). There are about 500 members right now, and I’m constantly amazed at the ideas they share. All are familiar with my website and book, so if you have questions about implementing any of The Cornerstone ideas, you can find out what works for other teachers and the modifications they’ve tried. I love to run new ideas by the yGroup because I know I can count on the members to point me in the right direction.
See you on the boards!