LA teachers' Facebook group helps educators share learning resources during pandemic

Thousands of teachers have joined the group to help share ideas for in-person and remote learning.
LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A return to the classroom is inching ever closer for students. But it's still been almost a year since students across California saw their teacher in person.

Parents have done their best to fill in as teachers, trying to guide children through remote learning.

But who was guiding the teachers? And what will work best as they leave their Zoom room for a classroom?

"We knew we had to try to do something different for when the fall came, when we knew we would be teaching remotely," said Michelle Touceda, a South Gate High School English teacher.

Touceda and Mia Young, two LAUSD English teachers who had never met before attending an online high school training seminar, came up with a solution. They decided they would create a Facebook group called Distance Learning Educators. They knew the seminar would end, but wanted the collaboration of teachers to continue.

"In the chat of that training teachers were sharing resources, just saying 'this is how I do this, this is how I do that,'" said Young, who teaches at Hamilton High School. "So I just quickly made a Facebook group, put the link in the chat and about five minutes later there were 400 teachers in it."

In one week they had 5,000 teachers, now almost 25,000 share ideas for scheduling or answering tech questions for a slide gone wrong. Now, they are sharing ideas on returning to schools, getting advice from those already in class and showing the collaboration will continue as teachers navigate a hybrid version of school.

"We've created these friendships with teachers from all over the world and at every transition there is going to be new problems that we'll be able to support each other," said Young.

"Twenty-first century learning asks for kids to be able to do things online and to have those skills, so some of what we've learned while teaching remotely is going to transfer back to when we're in person or when we're hybrid, so I don't see the need for this ending when we go back to the classroom," said Touceda.

Group members include administrators, counselors, coaches and department of education personnel from Argentina to Israel to the Philippines, with 19 subject-based groups and a dedicated Google Drive for educators to share resources. It's a group trying to solve the riddle of distance learning, but now ready to find solutions for whatever a 21st century education will look like.

"I do think that teachers will still rely on the group because they'll need to know what's working out there," said Young.

"The things I've been able to learn in the group that I'm able to take back to my school, and so it doesn't just stop in Facebook, it grows even out of that," said Touceda.
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