Teaching & Learning Conference Builds a Community

More than a full-house for a Sarah Brown Wessling presentation at the 2014 Teaching and Learning Conference.

More than a full-house for a Sarah Brown Wessling presentation at the 2014 Teaching and Learning Conference.

There’s often something aspirational in the use of the word, “community.” We talk about communities with the knowledge that they exist – in our schools, towns, or even at broader geographical or cultural levels. But if we scratch beneath the surface, we may find that that we’re talking about commonality more than community. We share relevant traits and certain types of experiences, and perhaps we hope, we wish, that there might be more “communing” than actually occurs.

For eleven years, I’ve felt that being a National Board Certified Teacher made me a member of a community. The shared experience among National Board candidates is intense and meaningful, even transformational for many educators. You can start a conversation with any fellow teacher who’s been through the process and quickly find some common language and ideas for discussing the art and science of teaching.

But is it a community? I’d say that, for me at least, it’s constantly becoming one, always in process, never quite finished. It is certainly more than aspirational. As I begin my cross-country journey to the 2015 Teaching & Learning Conference in Washington D.C., March 13-14, I’m looking forward to reconnecting with people I already know from the following states, in addition to my home state of California: HI, WA, OR, AZ, NM, CO, NE, IL, MI, PA, NY, MA, ME, MD, VA, NC, FL, MS. I’m probably forgetting one or two, and I have some people I intend to seek out from other states. So, when I talk about an NBCT community, it’s more than aspiration: it’s a group of teachers and education leaders I’ve had a chance to know and learn from for over a decade. Having attended last year’s T&L conference, and multiple NBPTS conferences prior to that, I’m sure that this year’s event will expand and strengthen that community.

If you happen to be attending the conference, I invite you to join me in two ways to build that sense of community.

Amplify Your Teaching Voice: Blogging for Teaching and Leadership – Friday, March 13, 11:30-12:15, Room 155. I’ll be part of a five-person panel engaging around the topic of education blogging. All of us are NBCTs with lots of blogging experience, and we come from different states, different regions, and different backgrounds. The session will be interactive and discussion-oriented. If you’re thinking about blogging, or already well-established, we’ll balance full-group and small-group discussions in an attempt to give everyone a chance to learn and to contribute.

Then, keep an eye out for details about the Blogging Café, a completely informal networking opportunity to follow later in the conference. Watch for updates on Twitter or on the conference website/schedule/updates. Not only are face-to-face meetings wonderful for building that sense of community, but also, blogging is a great way to continue growing your network all year long, while contributing to an essential dialogue about our profession.

And if you’re not able to attend the conference, then of course you can still connect via Twitter:

#TLConf2015

@TeachLearnConf

Hope to see you in D.C. or online!

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