Mar 13, 2013
When we first heard about ShareMyLesson, there was some trepidation around American Federation of Teachers’ foray into technological innovation -- teachers unions and technology isn't a duo you hear regularly. But after chatting with Kalebra Williams -- a 14-year veteran French teacher in Broward County, Florida and an AFT trainer -- we came away stoked about the prospect of the nation’s second largest union continuing down this path of innovation.
It appears that AFT has achieved both quality and quantity with ShareMyLesson. At the time of writing, there are 260,000 resources available on the site, all vetted by teams of teachers. And it’s not just a simple red check. Educators who upload lesson plans can expect feedback if their materials aren’t up to snuff; those who neglect to iterate will find the materials in question removed from the site. While not all materials are Common Core-aligned, those labeled as such earn the designation through the discerning eyes of other teachers. Essentially, quality assurance is a non-issue.
When it comes to quantity, ShareMyLesson has every subject covered. Williams tells EdSurge that there’s “always a PE or wood shop teacher who thinks the site won’t help them.” But when we searched for "physical education," we found a whopping 1500+ resources with filters for grade, type, and format. Even Williams is a bit overwhelmed by the 7500+ resources dedicated to French instruction. But she recognizes that such a comprehensive collection can be a real boon for teachers looking to build out their resources. “There are plenty of resources out there for math and English, but [ShareMyLesson] can be especially helpful for first-year and elective teachers,” she says.
ShareMyLesson also boasts a considerable community component. The collection of forums is regularly updated and commented on by teachers from New York to SF to the U.K. (thanks to a collaboration with TSL Education) creating a near 24/7 bastion of professional development activity. And because it’s easy to track how many times material has been viewed and downloaded, educators have a straightforward way to demonstrate their individual development during teacher evaluations. What better way to highlight your contributions than indicating exactly how many people you’ve helped and how?
After initial and second impressions of ShareMyLesson, we’re excited to see what other innovations AFT has on the horizon. Unions too often wind up in the headlines over conflicts (as Randi Weingarten recently showed in Philly). ShareMyLesson is a great example of a how an organization can create real value for all teachers.