Literacy Leadership Blog

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Community… Why Is It Important For Teachers?

Categories: Education & Teaching, Educators, General, Learning Ally “How-To Use”, Reading Strategies for K-12, Student Centric Learning, The Digital Age

Collaboration, networking, knowledge sharing, professional learning, literacy leadership – these are all definitions we use to describe Learning Ally’s Educator Community, now 5,300 educators strong with another 2,500 members on Instagram. 

Members of Learning Ally’s Education Community have different titles, roles and responsibilities. They come from different towns and cities, from urban and rural schools, and from big and small districts. They come together as "one" with an unbreakable bond – the love of children, and a desire to hone their craft of teaching and leading. 

Leana Malinowsky, Middlesex, NJ County.In our community, there are new teachers, seasoned teachers, teacher leaders, and Teachers of the Year, like Leana Malinowsky, Middlesex, NJ County.

Elizabeth Zwerg, Learning Ally’s Educator Community Manager, says, “We think of our community as an ecosystem with many points of access. Staying true to our non-profit (501c3) roots, our Community is open to all educators - even teachers who do not use our solutions. Why? Because we want to ensure equitable access to all educators, so collectively they can enhance their teaching skills as literacy leaders."

 Communicating and Connecting

When educators come together, they form professional and personal relationships. They draw support from each other. They collaborate and identify new ways to apply literacy leadership to transform their classes, their schools, and student outcomes. They become influencers, mentors, dreamers and doers. They model best practices, and inspire others to transform, wonder, and grow. 

What Members Say

“I am your number one fan,” says Andrea Spradling, a Reading Specialist in Florida, when it comes to the Educator Community for teachers, and Learning Ally Audiobooks for students!”

Sheree Koppel, a retired educator from Kentucky, says, “We have talked a lot about how we, as educators, were not prepared, nor grounded, in the strategies supported by the Science of Reading when we entered the classroom. As educators, we shoulder the responsibility of teaching our students. As we repeatedly hear, and discuss, it takes everyone: parents, families, teachers, education institutions, nonprofit organizations, healthcare providers, and businesses, to address literacy needs accurately.” 

Ms. Koppel goes on to say, “The concept of community and relationships within a community intrigues me. While we can work to influence and inspire others, it goes both ways. We inspire and hopefully influence, but we are also influenced by the actions of others. This is what makes a community so vital. I love the support and safety that exists as we strive to straighten each other’s crowns. Learning Ally’s community is always supportive, interactive, encouraging and engaging. I have learned so much from my fellow colleagues.” 

Christine Hirsch, a Reading Specialist from Minnesota, says, “Building relationships is key and when you build relationships, you also build trust with both you, and the student. It is important to take it slow when building relationships. My school uses the slogan, ‘go slow to go fast.’ I think this pillar is important.” 

No More Silos

Ms. Zwerg adds, “Establishing a safe space to exchange ideas, talk about challenges, find a friend or a friendly ear, is important for teachers. The ironic part about teaching is that many educators feel lonely in their classroom, or in leadership positions when implementing evidence-based literacy best practices in reading instruction. In our community, members expand their sphere of influence beyond the classroom, share ideas and goals, acquire new teaching strategies and know they are not alone.” 

Power in Professional Learning and Networking

There are three types of teacher professional development: periodic workshops, in-class observation, and single-session seminars. Keeping this in mind, we believe participating in a strong educator community can also broaden leadership skills.

Listening to our Literacy Leadership podcasts is another benefit of networking where educators and literacy experts can share knowledge.

Join the Learning Ally Educator Community

  1. Form friendships to improve mental health and social relationships.  

  2. Find purpose and meaning, and a safe space to learn and grow. 

  3. Influence others about the latest research.

  4. Strengthen instructional practices and apply innovative approaches in class instruction.

  5. Partner with like minded educators to share collective intelligence.

  6. Learn new literacy leadership skills. 

  7. Have fun!

Ms. Zwerg says, “Building community is essential for teachers to feel connected. Community boosts morale, heightens engagement, and brings more satisfaction to teaching. When teachers feel supported, valued, and recognized, they are more satisfied with their career, which benefits our children and our society.” 

When you join the Learning Ally Educator Community, you are saying “yes” to connecting with other educators, strengthening your pedagogy and instructional practices, and learning and growing with others who share a common passion for making our country and our world a better place through the education of our children. 

Research About Teacher Community

What does the research say about vibrant teacher communities? Here are some research studies and citations:

  • Professional learning communities are an environment that fosters mutual cooperation, emotional support, and personal growth as they work together to achieve what they cannot accomplish alone.” (DuFour. R. (2004).

  • Challenges in daily instructional practice encourages teachers to learn spontaneously, in an informal manner: by consulting colleagues or experts (Billett 2004).  

  • The process of informal learning consists of social interaction and gaining experience from colleagues and peers, and leads to a strengthening of informal relationships (Eraut 2004). 

  • Professional and social changes, together with ongoing technological developments, require teachers to develop themselves continuously and to keep content knowledge and pedagogical skills up to date (Liebermann 2000). 

  • Access to networks resulting from informal relationships has become an important aspect of continued professional learning (Chapman and Hadfield 2010; Doppenberg, Bakx, and Brok 2012; Lieberman and Pointer Mace 2010)

Teachers Thrive

Learning Ally has made a commitment to give teachers a flexible forum, and protective environment to network with colleagues, share meaningful ideas, and become empowered by joining a literacy community where “all” really does mean all. Join us.  

A message from Leana Malinowsky, Teacher of the Year, Middlesex, NJ.

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