In his first year as a Teach for America teacher, Rob Lucas of Teachers’ Lounge found himself spending hours writing lesson plans, wondering why he couldn’t build on the knowledge of more experienced teachers. So Lucas is starting a “wiki,” which will be a collaborative site where teachers can post and polish lesson plans. Lucas writes:
It often seems as though there aren’t enough hours in the day to grade papers, keep in touch with parents, and deal with administrative hassles — to say nothing of creating a year’s worth of high-quality lesson plans from scratch. The most agonizing thing for me, though, as I sat up planning lessons late at night, was the knowledge that thousands of other teachers across the country were doing exactly the same, that many of them were planning lessons similar to my own, and that thousands of other teachers had done so every year for decades. Yet there was no way for me to fully benefit from the experience of all those who had come before.
I’ve created this website to change that. It’s a new type of collaborative website called a “wiki,” where most pages can be edited not just by a webmaster, but by any registered user. That means you can post lesson plans, links, handouts, PowerPoint presentations — virtually anything! And you don’t even have to know HTML. Editing a page is as easy as using a word processor.
My vision is that over time, we can develop an extensive library of creative, finely-tuned, engaging, exciting lessons.
On Teachers’ Lounge, Lucas mentions James Stigler’s The Teaching Gap: Best Ideas from the World’s Teachers for Improving Education in the Classroom. Stigler describes how Japanese teachers “polish the stone,” constantly discussing how to improve lessons. Teachers learn from each other. Here, teachers often are isolated, even from colleagues in the same building. The Internet should change that.