Why You Need to Embrace Social Media

This morning I had an Aha moment that soon reached #mindblown status. Here’s how this happened: Instagram has become a game changer for my teaching career. Now nothing I’m about to share is going to be new information to anyone (maybe it depends how in the dark you are, I was in the dusk) however, just as many of us teach our students, it’s not what you know it’s about how you use that knowledge. For example, I know I shouldn’t eat so much sugar, but does that stop me from pouring flavored creamer into my coffee every morning: NO. So you get what I mean, keep following me.

In the middle of the night it occurred to me, (my one year old daughter isn’t sleeping through the night, but that’s another mom post) there is a reason my new found use of Instagram hit #mindblown status where as many of you will be like, yeah duh! Our building has not had a new teacher straight out of college in over a decade. Why does this matter? Take a moment to flashback with me. This year I did a writing lesson on character development that asked students to create a Facebook profile for their character. I thought I was being “trendy” and the kids would love bringing social media into the classroom. Do you know what they all told me? “Facebook is for old people. I don’t even have Facebook.” In fact Facebook is old enough that this writing program doesn’t tell me to check it’s spelling, but it does for Instagram. What does this teach us? Beside the fact that I can now place myself in that veteran teacher category, it means I’m not as “trendy” with my teaching lessons as I thought. All of the people who teach along side me are just as veteran as I am now. We haven’t had a new teacher, out of college new, join us to share what the kids are doing these days.

Let me bring you into the light. We all know about Pinterest, which is a search engine and that makes a difference. Many of us probably have a love/hate relationship with this site because, let’s be honest, it can make you feel inadequate if you’re not seeing those amazing photos for the inspiration they are meant to be. Now because it’s a search engine you may, as I did, have missed something important because you weren’t searching for the right thing. To make a long story short, to “close our gaps” we are being told to use learning progressions when creating formative assessments in order to collect the right data to inform our instruction. That probably makes sense to a lot of you, except the learning progressions part because I learned yesterday that’s not the right term. It was evident when I’d been searching Google that no one else seemed to be using this idea. Here I thought we were on the cutting edge only to realize we needed to be turned in a different direction. We needed to be shown Marzano’s learning scale. So here I was creating a wheel that had already been invented. In the teaching world this is usually the case. Your teaching solution is out there you just have to search for it, but you can’t find it if you’re searching for the wrong thing. Enter social media.

Pick a hashtag, I suggest #teachersfollowteachers, to start with and now you will see what it is you need to be searching for. Rather than looking for the information, the information will now start to fall in your lap. See what other teachers are doing, find the ones who are also blogging about it (#teacherswhoblog, #teacherblogger) and then join their email list for updates so you don’t miss anything good. There is a whole network of teachers inspiring, supporting and encouraging one another on social media that you may not know exists. I’ll admit as part of that new mico generation, according to a recent Facebook article, social media is not something I thought could really benefit me in any way. I thought it was about sharing pictures, when really it’s about sharing ideas, and aren’t ideas so much more powerful than pictures?

Join this new (to me) #teachertribe ! A fellow blogging middle school teacher, @t_isforteaching  tagged me in her Instagram follow suggestions and I have to admit it felt like being invited to the “cool” kids’ lunch table. Education is evolving, we can evolve with it or we can choose to get left in its dust.

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Carly Black

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