NOTE: This post is from 2009 and has not been updated.

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.

See you on the boards!

Discussion

22 Comments

  1. Marcy Webb

    Thank you for your post.

    I am a member of one of the specialized chatboards on Teachers.net. While the ideas shared are fabulous, and I have partaken on numerous occasions, the chatboard, at least the one of which I am a member, can be catty, and members taking things too personally. So, I have to unplug occasionally. I am on a hiatus from the chatboard now. LOL

  2. marshu sensei

    Wow, thanks for the great info!

    • Angela Watson

      You’re welcome, Marshu!

  3. Lee

    Hi Teachers! Are there any smartboard units for Teachers College Reading and Writing Workshop? I have 5th graders this year that are below grade level. Wondering if there is any smart boards or even powerpoints, set up to guide me along better than the narrative unit packets??? I have a strong feeling I may even have to go down to the 4th grade units due to where my students are at. Thank You!

  4. aud

    I have found teacher.net to be a horrible chatboard full of bullies and unfair moderation by moderators who are biased based on their friendships with the bullies. Bullying and one-sided moderation/censorship is a constant complaint by people on that board. Of course, many of those complaints disappear due to censorship from the owner and his moderator Kathleen. It is a vile cesspool of nastiness, stalking, and domination by a select few–everything you can expect from a poorly run chatboard. My opinion is that it is best to just stay clear of that board. I have rarely seen anything resembling good advice from the posts there when it comes to teaching. Most of the posts now are about everything but teaching anyway as the “cohesive community” as the bullies and the powers that be use the board as their own personal gossip center. If you want to hear them brag about their kids and grandkids accomplishments or discuss their exercise regimen or share their approval of everything liberal or any number of other things that are unrelated to teaching, then you will enjoy the board. The moderator who has ruled that board for a couple decades now is a left liberal from Connecticut so if you are right of center, don’t even bother to post there. As they continually remind anybody who complains about the bias and censorship, it is a privately owned website so the owner and his stooges can do anything they like including ban anybody and censor anything. If you want to support that, you probably belong there. Otherwise, it will make you sick.

  5. aud

    One of my sentences got confusing and just incorrectly written. I was trying to explain that the owner, his moderator, and their favorite pets call themselves “the cohesive community” because they agree on everything and if you don’t agree with them, you can go to hell basically.

  6. Jessica

    I used AtoZTeacher Discussion Forums for awhile, but then I found one of my comments moderated for just the reason that I updated a new comment quickly, and I was told I was “hijacking the thread.” Another time I was totally banned from the website without an explanation, but I think it was due to my politely, civilly, and moderately expressing a few opinions. Later I allowed back to post again, but I didn’t return since the moderators seemed to be oversensitive, overprone to censor, arbitrary, and random in their enforcement of different policies.

  7. Aimee Wallbrink

    Hello.. my name is Aimee.
    It is my first time to join one of these discussions. I have been in the process of studying for the CSET/CBEST exams and many others.
    Who out there has taken these exams and how did you do on them?

    It is just amazing how much there is to know, if you want to become a teacher.

  8. Nikki Hess

    I am a parent of a 7th grade autistic/adhd student who is in a private school that is known to cater to special needs students. My child for the most part is a straight A student and studies hard for tests to earn those grades.

    My question is this, do you think it is appropriate to give a child a zero for asking for an eraser during a test? He is not known for repeatedly talking during tests and there was no worry about him cheating, per the teacher herself.

    I would appreciate your honest opinion on this topic.

    • Angela Watson

      Hi, Nikki, I really don’t like to form opinions on situations without knowing everything that was involved. Based on what you shared here, it sounds like it’s worth having a conversation with the teacher (and if needed, the admin) to make sure your child is being fairly assessed. I wish I could be more helpful, but I just don’t have enough information, and I think this is something that needs to be addressed with those in charge at your school.

    • Susan craton

      I have been a teacher for 40 years. I have given and monitored thousands of tests. I have NEVER given a child a fail grade for wanting to self correct. It is a life skill. I am proud of your kid for self correcting. He can take the test again hopefully on line and not worry about erasers. Bless his heart and yours!

  9. Katia Duchev

    Hi Angela, What a great resource and I really wish I would have found it at the beginning of this school year My name is Ekaterina or Katia and I am about to finish my first year of teaching Kindergarten. I looked at one of the websites you shown above the AtoZTeacherStuff forum and I really liked the layout of the forum so I went to sign up. The only problem is they have a verification reCAPTCHA in place that is not loading so that field can not be filled out to complete the registration process. I went to the sites Contact Us section as well to send a private message but also that requires the verification reCAPTCHA and it is not loading to fill out. So I thought I’d try my luck here to see if there was anyway you could get in contact with the forums administrator there to fix that. I would really appreciate it.

    Thank You, Ekaterina/Katia

    • Angela Watson

      Can you try using another device or browser?

  10. Katia

    Thank You Angela, Yes I tried both and it still isn’t working. Thank You anyway.

  11. Katia Duchev

    Angela, I tried that as well and it still has the captcha to do just to send a message. Of course I am unable to do that either. I found another site. Thank You.

    • Angela Watson

      Oh, you should be able to email them directly since you have the email address–open your email as you normally do, create a new message, and paste webmaster@atozteacherstuff.com into the “send” field, just as you’d send any other email.

  12. Robert Wilson

    Thanks for sharing these wonderful boards. I would definitely try one of them.

  13. Laura

    Is AtoZTeacher forum gone? I tried to go to the site there isn’t one anymore, that was one of my go to websites, have you heard of anything??

  14. JH

    Teachers.net sent me an activation email, which I clicked on the link from. It took me to the site, but then it wants an activation key? Does anyone know how to get around this?

  15. child care

    I appreciate these shares

Post a Comment

Want to join the discussion? Feel free to contribute!