CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- David Sherman, a national representative for the American Federation of Teachers, is urging West Virginia teachers to take advantage of a new online resource center to help alleviate their everyday workload.
"With budget cuts, no raises, increasing class sizes and new standards to follow, teachers are expected to do more and more. We need to develop different ways of teaching so that you can get the support you need," Sherman told the state's teachers at the AFT-West Virginia conference Friday in Charleston. "This is for teachers, by teachers."
Share My Lesson, a website launched this summer, is a free resource that allows teachers to share lesson plans, swap strategies and access up-to-date multimedia tools.
Registered teachers are able to rate the quality of each lesson plan, which adds up to a total score for users to view.
The site also coincides with the Common Core State Standards, which are federal guidelines set to help prepare students for college and careers. West Virginia adopted the standards earlier this year.
The site is the result of a partnership between AFT and Tes Connect -- the world's largest connection of teachers. While the site cost about $10 million to develop, Sherman promises the resource will always be free for teachers.
"It is and always will be free. There are no hidden costs. We made a commitment," he said.
Since the site launched in July, more than 70,000 people have registered and downloaded nearly 600,000 resources.
West Virginia's AFT president, Judy Hale, said she hopes the site will help lessen teachers' burdens and ultimately decrease the turnover rate. Fifty percent of teachers leave the profession within their first five years, according to Hale.
"Low pay, stress or frustration from lack of support and respect causes many teachers to leave," she said. "Share My Lesson will help retain teachers by offering them support for one of the more challenging parts of their job: planning inspiring lessons for their students."