Teachers are, by profession, a supportive community. They rely on one another for encouragement and collaboration, as well as guidance for personal and professional growth. But with most schools in the United States adopting distance learning or hybrid learning models for the duration of the 2020-21 school year, the sense of community among teachers isn’t as strong due to social distancing mandates. In some cases, teachers are working in silos which means they’re significantly more isolated than they used to be.
Without daily interaction, it’s harder to ask for help or new ideas for solving classroom challenges. It’s also difficult to build camaraderie, discuss trends witnessed among student groups, or to adopt new teaching strategies.
That’s why Clerisy is working with certified teachers to create a new way in cultivating community through monthly Teacher Mixers. Think of it as a modern day virtual teacher lounge.
Cultivating Community for Continuous Learning
Clerisy’s Teacher Mixers inspire the same organic discussions between educators that happen in the teacher’s lounge—albeit in a virtual setting.
Every Teacher Mixer covers an overarching topic that is most relevant to today’s teacher. The first half of a Mixer is an interactive experience for teachers to participate in a lively discussion surrounding the themed topic, in the following format:
- Presentation of Topic (20 minutes): During the first twenty minutes, a highly qualified and respected content expert will give a presentation on that week’s topic.
- Q&A Session (10 minutes): Participants are able to ask questions and brainstorm solutions collaboratively.
- Open Forum for Discussion (30 minutes): The last thirty minutes of the panel is devoted to open discussion where teachers are encouraged to chat amongst themselves about the topic of the session or to just discuss day-to-day classroom concerns for guidance from fellow certified educators. This portion of the mixer is among the most popular, as teachers have found that they feel most connected when they are either helping a fellow teacher, or receiving guidance from one.
Cultivating Community to Build Relationships
Teacher Mixers can be an incredibly powerful tool to keep your educational skills sharp and current, while offering you a fun group learning experience. Equally important, teachers can use mixers to build relationships with fellow educators outside their school which opens the door for newfound opportunities and perspectives.
During the mixer, you’ll have structured and unstructured time to chat with other teachers and begin to form connections. The bonus of virtual events is that you can connect and network with educators from across the world, providing some unique advantages:
- You will have a broader range of experiences and expertise to draw from when you and your fellow teachers collaborate.
- Your friendships, relationships, and sense of community will remain intact should you transition to another school or shift to a different teaching specialty.
- Since communities are more inclusive by nature, they help teachers foster diversity within their own classroom environments.
Virtual Teacher Mixers are just one example of how teachers are using virtual events to build communities that are essential to maintaining mental health, happiness, and teaching excellence during COVID-19. Because of the unique benefits they offer, it’s quite likely that these events will persist well after social distancing is a thing of the past.
The Innovation of Virtual Community Building
Teacher Mixers exemplify the way that teachers are coming together and continuing to build community during exceptionally challenging times. In the end, educators benefit richly from these experiences; as do their students, and the institution of education itself. The stronger our community remains, the more our students will all benefit.
Interested in mixing, mingling and meeting fellow teachers from across the country? Learn more about Clerisy’s Monthly Teacher Mixers.