BetterLesson.org is a social networking site for teachers and was founded by a group of teachers from Atlanta and Boston public schools in the spring of 2008.
The BetterLesson website says the social network is committed to saving educators from "reinventing the wheel," giving them more time to focus on creating innovative content, delivering innovative content, grading, tutoring, analyzing data, communicating with parents, finishing paperwork, and sleeping.
In addition, BetterLesson is committed to connecting educators within and across diverse instructional and geographic communities.
I interviewed the founder and CEO of the company via email to learn more.
BE: How did BetterLesson come into being?
AG: After graduating from college, I taught 6th grade social studies for two years at a public middle school in Atlanta through the Teach For America program. I then moved to Boston and taught 6th grade English at a high-performing charter school in Roxbury, MA. During my time in the classroom, I struggled to find high-quality lessons on the Internet and connect with innovative teachers in my field.
The vast majority of lesson sites were extremely poor-quality and the vast majority of teacher networks were poorly maintained or inactive. I had been thinking about creating a compelling alternative for some time—one that combined the file sharing technology of a Scribd or DocStoc with the social networking technology of a Facebook or LinkedIn--and in January 2008 I decided to take the plunge (while still teaching 6th grade English).
I joined forces with Matt Lenard, a fellow Teach For America alum who taught 6th grade social studies at a rival middle school in Atlanta, and a number of my Boston colleagues and began to design the platform and build the team. Over the spring, I connected with Jonathan Hendler, our CTO, and Erin Osborn, our Director of Operations and Outreach, and we started working full-time out of my living room in Somerville, MA in July 2008.
BE: Why a social network site for teachers?
AG: As I experienced first hand, teaching can be a very isolating profession. Most teachers are in search of like-minded educators to share lessons, best practices and moral support. A social/professional network is the perfect place to facilitate these connections—to help teachers find their pedagogical soul mates and provide a platform for the robust exchange of content and ideas.
BE: How are teachers responding to social networking and BetterLesson?
AG: So far, teachers are responding very well. Again, we’re finding that teachers are most excited to connect with innovative teachers who teach the same grade-level, subjects, and standards. When a connection like this is made—even with a single educator—it can transform an entire year of instruction.
We’re incredibly excited that we’ve been able to facilitate many of these transformative connections on our platform. We’re also excited that we are currently providing high-performing teachers with an opportunity to share and scale their instructional content and best practices.
We are harnessing Web 2.0 metrics--such as keeping track of views and downloads--to provide lesson artists with the long overdue recognition they deserve.