All of us, whether we’ve been a teacher or not, can remember the one who was always boring, chronically disorganized, or apathetic about the lessons being taught. New teachers have a hard time with new curricula * while old timers are likely bored with the same-old repetition.
A group of teachers who saw this decided that there must be a way to change how it’s done without radically altering the entire educational system. Something that could be done for teachers no matter where they were located in the world. So BetterLesson.org was born.
Founded in 2008 by a group of teachers from the Atlanta and Boston area school districts, who had formed a loose coalition via social networking, the site began life as a social networking site specifically for teachers. From there, it began to grow.
Educators found that they could collaborate on new lesson plans, new teachers found that they could stop re-inventing the wheel and learn from others instead of repeating the same old mistakes. Long-time teachers found ways to re-invigorate their lesson plans and insert life into their careers again. Everyone learned that all of these processes benefitted students.
While the website is still technically in beta, it has gained several hundred users world-wide, though most of its information is aimed towards the American school system. The thing that sets it apart from Facebook user groups or open source lesson sites? Collaboration and ease of use.
Co-founder and CEO Alex Grodd, a former Teach for America and private charter school teacher, thought that there must be a better way. Teachers often come out of college eager to shape young minds only to find that the job is mostly hit-and-miss and frustration. The average teacher lasts only two years in their job before leaving education. He and his fellow co-founders set out to change that by providing a social network and teaching platform for teachers to interact and learn.
Most of BetterLesson is centered on social networking between teachers, but it also includes data mining tools for finding information online (and sharing it via the site), collaboration platforms for sharing lesson plans and cooperating on similar ideas, and more.
The site has made a big impact on education after just over a year of operation and it’s still not public (it’s in open beta). Emissaries from the site have visited the White House, done tours around the nation to school districts, and built a network of dedicated, hard-working, and committed teachers.
Very cool and definitely the kind of thing that our nation needs. Good teachers are hard to find and, it appears, even harder to keep.