One thing that people in general strive for is the feeling of connectedness. We want to be part of a group (remember high school?). One profession in which people NEED to be connected (read into this - to keep their sanity-) is teaching. There are very few professions in which there are so many people who share the same experiences every day and yet work in isolation.
Being part of the Engage community is one way that teachers can feel connected with other teachers and share a story, a laugh, or even a frustration. If you say you had a bad day - we GET IT! If you say a student finally memorized the steps in "division" - we GET what a huge accomplishment that is. If you say that you got a student to smile - we celebrate with you! If you are new to education, or even a little more seasoned, it is wonderful to be with others and share all of the things that made a difference in your day.
Another HUGE benefit of being a part of the Engage community are the ideas shared on a daily basis! Oh my goodness there is a wealth of information floating around in this vast array of educational minds! Tap into our brains, send us your problems, challenge our minds to think outside the box - you won't be disappointed!
I have to confess, I am also a huge fan of Twitter. NOT the Twitter that tells me what celebs have landed in prison this week or the one that tells me what you had for lunch, but the one that is filled with brilliant educators who want to make a difference in the lives of children. That is the Twitter I love. You will find me there hanging out as @shyj sharing information, asking questions, and participating in chats, especially #edchat on Tuesdays. Check it out and get connected. You have NOTHING to lose, and everything to gain!
I agree with Julie that teachers want to remain connected. I also am somewhat active on Twitter - connecting mainly in discussions of education and science education.
One of the ways I've connected with students and parents is to maintain an active website during the school year. This year I'm modifying what was done last year to be more of a blog - so people can subscribe to get updates. The previous website was used mainly by students and parents searching for information. I try to make sure students and parents know they can contact me via email. A highlight of the past week was a former student contacting me via email. He is currently working on his PhD in Mechanical Engineering. I remember his name and have a vague memory of his face. (7th grade was a LONG time ago for him.) He described to me what the posters in my classroom were and activities he remembered doing.
In my opinion, teachers can do a lot to connect with both students and parents. My district has very strict policies regarding cell phones, as well as Facebook and Twitter (or other social networking sites). I am very careful to follow these guidelines and look for other ways to connect.
I look forward to hearing how others stay connected with other teachers, students, and parents.
I just recently joined the intel engage network! I am seeing so many great ways teachers can communicate and stay connected! Already I have read many posts and have gained many valuable resources for my classroom. I am looking forward to taking this back to my school because we could share lesson plans, ideas, and web resources for the classroom!!
I am just getting started with the "Engage" community. So far I have seen great communication and shared ideas. I think this site is a wonderful way for teachers to get accurate and useful feedback. This resource is great because you are getting advice, feedback, concerns, ideas etc from other professionals in your field.