Learning Communities

Since my position in the school district is unique – I am not in the classroom but support all the instructional and student management programs for K-12 – I have come to heavily rely on learning networks for support, communication and collaboration. Typically, I have a contact person for each program so that when I need assistance, I can email, call or put in a help ticket. And then wait. And wait. SO Frustrating! Now though that I have joined so many specific user groups, professional organizations and/or learning networks, I often hear about an issue BEFORE it is reported to me personally. I learn about fixes and updates BEFORE it hits our end users. When I am on the verge of tears, I can reach out with the details and hear back from others immediately with suggestions or even just words of encouragement. My learning networks have made my job more bearable for sure where I can connect with people that are literally experiencing the same frustrations and challenges as me. I do find that it is more helpful in my circumstance to find multiple networks that are specific to the program though so it ends up I have dozens and dozens of emails per day. It is worth it though because I can filter and go back and look if needed. Or assist others if I have found a “fix”. In addition, many of my learning networks have blogs, twitter, facebook and/or podcasts that I can also access. With so many options for learning, I am able to be proactive and find resolutions, listen to program updates or unique opportunities, discover new ways to incorporate into the classroom, and make personal connections to others in similar situations. 

Learning Community Name/URLAbout
Google Certified Trainer HUBIf you are a Google district, this is the site for you! Not only is there documentation on each GAFE product, but also leveled training courses by product with tips, tricks and tools for the classroom. There are lesson plan templates and educational resources available to download as well. I recommend subscribing to the updates and following the various social media platforms to keep up with the fast-changing Google updates.
ATPEThe Association of Texas Professional Educators is the leading educators association in Texas. I know many educators join for the professional liability insurance coverage and legal benefits, however I would argue there are many additional resources for educators as well. Parent-teacher toolkits, information tailored to the different levels of educators (classroom teachers, paraprofessionals, student teachers, 1st year teachers) and  PD portal with trainings created by fellow educators.
Shake Up Learning
Oh Kacey Bell, a Texas gal, has a spunky personality and shares instructional technology insights with honesty in a weekly podcast as well as her website packed full of resources. Subscribe to the blog and the podcast for sure as they are so informative and super easy to follow. She hits on every platform, every tool that can impact technology in the classroom. But take a look at the resources link on her site where she has cataloged resources based on topic – for tech coaches, Google resources, and remote learning tools.
TCEAIf you work within instructional technology in Texas, TCEA is a learning network you need to join. TCEA provides resources and strategies to integrate technology into K-12 classrooms. Their annual conference cannot be beat!! They provide multiple options for online CPE credit, lunch-and-learn webinars, tons of technology toolbox resources, podcasts, in-person learning opportunities including makerspace and robotics. 
Cult of PedagogyJennifer Gonzales weeds out the new tech tools, reads books on methodology, stays on top of current research, and explores opportunities for teachers so that we only get the good resources and information that will help us do our job better. Be sure and check out her podcasts and gut-level teacher reflections.
Ditch that TextbookMatt Miller is a superstar for teachers! He puts on a FREE instructional technology summit each December that I haven’t missed in 3 years. He is a published author and former teacher. Be sure and sign up for the weekly communications and you will also receive free ebooks that are awesome! He offers online courses, blogs, podcasts, a You Tube channel, books, speaker engagements and so much more. The highest recommendation possible…and I hope to meet him in person one day!
Google Applied Digital SkillsOnce you select the teacher role, a plethora of options pop up for those who want to prepare students for the jobs of tomorrow! Free video based lessons, project based curriculum and tips and tricks to make the options work with Google tools. So many resources and actual lessons ready to roll out to the students. VERY cool stuff!!
Alice Keller Teacher TechAnother one of my IT heroes – Alice Keeler is BRILLANT! Her templates and scripts are absolutely invaluable if you work in Google Sheets. She has a You Tube channel where she walks you through all the steps as well. Be sure and subscribe to her newsletters.
Teaching Channel 
There are over 1,400 videos over best teaching practices on this site. If you register as a teacher, you also have access to free certified PD. The vetted videos are so specific to teaching that you can find information on just about everything like how to communicate with difficult parents, classroom management tips for first year teachers, how-to’s, lesson planning, student engagement and more! Subscriptions can be purchased, but navigate to the video library for free.
EdutopiaEdutopia, run by the George Lucas Educational Foundations, puts a spotlight on what works in education via this website of mini-articles. The site shares how educators can adopt or adapt best practices and tells stories of innovation and continuous learning in the real world through project-based learning, social and emotional learning, and access to new technology.
Learning Forward North TexasIf you lead educational PD for your school or district in North Texas, then LFNTX (an extension of Learning Forward Texas) is for you – it is a group PK-12 Leaders of Professional Learning across North Texas that understand the value of connection and collaboration.
LFNTX meets once a month in rotating districts to discuss topics set by the group, for the group, and lead by the group. The monthly meetings model the Standards of Professional Learning, and share the best practices and strategies that are working in our districts to support teachers and impact students.
TSUGIf you are a Texas Skyward SIS student software user, then you MUST join TSUG (Texas Skyward User Group). The annual conferences just cannot be missed as Skyward covers program updates and highlights, leveled training *by years of experience in the software, and networking with fellow Skyward users.
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