The 28th September to the 16th October is Core Education’s Connected Educator Month in New Zealand.
I realise its focus is professional learning and development, but it has led me to ponder what is the most effective connection I have with my colleagues around the country. It has to be the good old French Teachers’ Listserv, which is run through TKI. I believe there are more than 400 teachers of French in this network and it includes assessors, moderators and advisors. All are regularly involved. If you want to find out anything, share anything, it’s your one stop shop.
On this listserv, in the past week alone, we have shared resources, asked questions, found answers, gathered information on exchanges, offered information about jobs, discussed the digital pilot listening exam, congratulated award winners, and grieved for lost friends.
So why is this listserv so successful? When I began it in 2000 on my old school server, very few people were involved, but I wasn’t discouraged because the literature told me that such communities of practice take approximately three years to gain momentum. And that seems about right. The French Teachers Listserv is now 15 years old and run from TKI.
Perhaps another reason for its success is that many French teachers up and down the country are the sole language teacher in their school and they need the support, encouragement , advice and plain old information that others offer via digital means.
It could also be successful because it is free and open. Other languishing language teacher listservs require contributors to be fee-paying members of their associations. That is not the case for the thriving French one. I suspect this is an important aspect in its popularity and in the lively discussion that occurs on a daily basis. Occasionally someone will need to remind a passionate colleague about flaming, but I can recall only two or three instances in recent years when that has occurred.
The main reason I believe it is so successful is that its members all share a passion for teaching languages, in particular French language and culture, and they want to share that passion with their students.
The French Teachers’ Listserv is my professional lifeline.