The World’s Largest English Department is online, reports Education Week.
Hired to teach 8th grade language arts, Laura Abercrombie turned to The English Companion Ning, “where English teachers meet to help each other.” One of the liveliest of nearly 7,000 K-12 nings, it has 6,000 teacher participants. She saw “pages of groups, forums, curricula, and multimedia resources,” but didn’t know where to start.
. . . Around 10 a.m., she posted a picture of herself, listed her credentials, and started a discussion under “New Teachers.” She titled it “HELP!!!” In her short message, Abercrombie was blunt about her situation—she would be starting her first year of teaching and she needed support. Her students would be reading Walden over the summer and responding to questions online, and then there was the issue of a “rustic, outdoorsy” trip with students in the fall. She wrote, “I am in the overwhelming process of preparing for the year and I am STUCK. There are no instructional materials for the class and the last teacher isn’t too keen on sharing. I have NO CLUE where to start. Any help would be great.”
Less than 12 hours later, there were roughly 60 responses from novice and veteran educators from across the country. Teachers offered book titles to help her bridge the gap between Thoreau and the class trip; professional development resources on reading strategies; an inquiry about the “essential question” for the year; and a healthy dose of encouragement.
What’s a ning? It’s an online platform used to create social networks. I didn’t know either.