written by Sarah Burns, Senior Director of the DeLeT Alumni NetworkTeacher networks, like the Delet Alumni Network (DAN), bring teachers together in powerful ways. DAN believes it’s important to provide multiple entry points to our network, making resources and events accessible and inclusive, without sacrificing substance. This way, members of the network can find their involvement worthwhile at all stages of their career. Sharon Feiman-Nemser, director of Brandeis’s Mandel Center for Studies in Jewish Education and Delet faculty member, conceptualized a continuum of teacher learning across three career stages: initial preparation, new teacher induction, and continuing professional development. Networks can guide their members through that continuum by creating learning opportunities designed for different career stages.
Depending on where they are in the continuum of professional development, network members might take advantage of the network’s resources on a variety of levels, and some might take on leadership roles and contribute to those resources. For example, in 2013, DAN will launch the DAN Curriculum Bank, where members of our network can digitally share teaching materials. This initiative will include a social networking component where members can comment on each other’s work and share successes and pitfalls in teaching the posted lessons. Alumni will contribute lessons and projects shaped by Delet practices. Newer teachers will access the Curriculum Bank to build up their repertoire, whereas more experienced teachers will use it to add something new to materials they already use. First year teachers and veterans alike can post materials and pose questions to the group, and peers can become informal mentors as they offer constructive criticism. This ebb and flow of offering and receiving support of different types as people move through their careers is what keeps teacher networks vibrant and relevant to a cadre of professionals in an ever-evolving field.