In top-performing countries, teachers are given the tools, time and support they need to ensure great instruction. In particular, time is set aside for teachers to collaborate and share ideas. Finland and Singapore, for example, recognize the value of teachers learning from and helping each other. Some American schools strive to regularly provide teachers with such opportunities, but built-in time for teachers to collaborate is still the exception.
The American Federation of Teachers believes it is the union’s core responsibility to develop solutions to overcome challenges for the people we represent and for the people we serve. The AFT calls it “solution-driven unionism”.
A prime example of solution-driven unionism is Share My Lesson, the largest free collection of classroom resources in the United States that the AFT developed with its British partner, TES Connect.
The Share My Lesson web site, www.sharemylesson.com, was launched in July 2012 and now has more than 275,000 total resources available.
Share My Lesson allows educators to share tried-and-true ideas, lessons and teaching tools. It creates a unique online community so teachers don’t feel so isolated. Teachers crave the tools and resources to help their students succeed. Share My Lesson offers lesson plans, worksheets, handouts, quizzes, PowerPoint presentations, videos and guidance for teaching English language arts and math, from pre-K through 12th grade. The site categorizes teacher-created resources by grade level, subject and type of resource and is completely free of charge. It allows teachers to find an array of ways to differentiate instruction to meet the needs of all their students. Educators can upload their best resources, download whatever is on the site, and review and rate materials to ensure quality control. As Share My Lesson’s slogan says, it is truly “by teachers, for teachers.”
From St. Louis to Shanghai, teachers tell me that they want access to content that enables them to provide a great education to their students. Share My Lesson is an important tool to making that access truly universal.
The digital platform fills a void for educators who desperately want additional tools and resources to help their students succeed. Existing instructional web sites, teachers report, are too limited, too vast and unwieldy, inaccurate, and have hidden costs. They are looking for a one-stop-shop for the materials they need and a site that is “teacher tested.”
“Teachers are in dire need of quality resources.” Christy Gill | Photo Credit – Chuck Garvin
Recently, Share My Lesson was showcased at the Finnish Embassy in Washington. Finnish Ambassador Ritva Koukku-Ronde praised the online resources for teachers, saying it is reminiscent of Finland’s own renowned commitment to teacher training and support.
“Sharing is caring,” said Ambassador Koukku-Ronde, adding that giving teachers the tools to share their best lesson plans and activities is another way of valuing and supporting their professional growth.
EI affiliates in countries around the globe are linking their members to Share My Lesson. To quote a member of the Jamaican Teachers Association who recently tried out Share My Lesson at a union sponsored education conference, “I really need this. I can use this to help me prepare my students for the new assessment tests the government is introducing.”
Opportunities for teachers to share with and learn from their colleagues are crucial to helping all children get an excellent education and keeping teachers in the profession. About 50 percent of U.S. teachers leave the classroom within their first five years because of lack of support or other frustrations. This teacher turnover crisis costs the United States more than $7.3 billion annually and unknown costs to children’s education.
Share My Lesson has become an important online resource that helps educators—and their students—learn and grow.
When teachers have the necessary tools and resources—like Share My Lesson—to do their jobs and be great teachers, kids are the winners and teachers make teaching their life-long career.
“Some of our best teachers are sharing great strategies” John Kuijper | AFT Photo
“It brings the best practices right to your fingertips.” Karen Gant | AFT Photo