This learning activity is designed to map your social network and helps you to build a powerful network. Collaboration and having a powerful network are important when you want to be able to teach all learners. When building a powerful network, it is important to proceed thoughtfully and purposefully: with whom and in what way do you want to cooperate? Is there enough diversity in your network? What do you need as a teacher (e.g. a listening ear, new teaching materials, etc.) and can you find this in your network? By reflecting on these questions and then shaping your collaboration in a targeted way, you can build a powerful network.
Duration: 20-30 minutes
Exploring your social network focuses on three questions:
1. Everyone visualises their social network for themselves.
Write down on post-its the names of people you usually ask support from to teach all learners. This could be colleagues within the school, learners and families, but also partners outside the school (from your local community, youth care, health organisations,…).
Stick the post-its around a post-it with your name. You can also affix the names to small dolls, cubes, sugar cubes or other items representing the people. The people you most often ask support from are placed more towards the middle. Those to whom you ask this support least often, place them more to the outside.
Reflect individually or exchange in duo/trio using the following guiding questions:
The idea of a powerful network ties in with the 'social capital perspective'.
Social capital refers to the social relationships a person has and the resources (information, material, etc.) and benefits these relationships can bring.
To explore and use your social capital, it helps to understand your own network and its potential, to appreciate and use the opportunities and strengths it offers in terms of diversity, connecting with others and teaching all learners. However, 'network thinking' is still quite new in education.
An important step is to become aware of how you use your social network as a function of dealing with diversity in the classroom and what the strengths and weaknesses of your network are. How do you do this now and how would you like to do this? Do not only consider the number of people you work with, but also the quality of the collaboration and the diversity in your network. After all, working together with more people is not always better... Diversity can be about differences in age, experience, vision and function of the people in your network, but also about differences in the form of support you ask these people for. A diverse network proves important to come up with new ideas. To tackle more complex issues, it proves valuable to sit with partners you often work with or have worked with for a long time. After all, they know you, the learners and the situation. Partners you usually don't work with (often) or don't know well (yet) can in turn provide a fresh perspective or a new idea. Reflecting on previous network characteristics can help you discover strengths and weaknesses of your network. Also always remember that mapping your social network is a snapshot in time. Over time, your network may look very different.