During our last round of sessions at TechMeet Tuscaloosa, I spoke on a panel along with Laren Hammonds and Jason Pate. We led the "Social Media Panel" and discussed how we have used technology in the classroom and how to specifically use social media. I actively use twitter as a lifeline for developing my craft as an educator. Jason started using Instagram in his math classroom, asking students to take pictures of different geometric shapes and angles they find around them. Laren shepherds student tech leaders at Rock Quarry Middle School and teaches English Language Arts through a variety of means, including technology. Each of us spoke about the importance of teaching students digital citizenship and their digital presence online. Click here to read a twitter feed of the discussion.
At my new employee orientation, we were encouraged to clean up our social media presence and consider our security settings on our profiles. It was said that students and parents would research us, look at our pictures, and Google us. One of the graphics struck me during orientation. It looked like this.
If we, as teachers, want our students to exhibit model behavior on social media, whatever the app, shouldn't we be doing so as well? This includes but is not limited to:
- not capturing negative comments in a photo or text against other educators. Teach students the permanence of words and pictures.
- learning to express our opinion in a positive way. Teach students the better way to state their opinion in language that will be received well.
- attacking ideas and not people. Teach students to oppose thoughts rather than the thinker.
- putting good things out there. Teach students what they distribute reflects on who they are.
If we don't teach this in our classrooms or our lives on a daily basis, how do we expect students not to bully each other or to post bathroom selfies during the time they were out of our classroom?
I understand asking professionals to Google themselves to see what our students can see, but we should already know our students are doing this. As @ezigbo_ said at #tmtuscaloosa, "Our students have never known a world in which they have not been connected to the internet." How can you expect a child who has always been able to access what they want when they want it to simply take a seat and listen to us? They Google because they want to learn. They are curious. They have always been able to find what they are looking for. What if they can learn more about you via the internet than you project of yourself in the classroom?
Be the example. Lead well in all areas, including social media. I have lines. I divide my personal and social learning into facebook and twitter. I do keep facebook personal and twitter professional (for the most part). I have enjoyed connecting with several educators, including starting the Epic French teachers group, on Voxer. I enjoy having my colleagues a tweet or text or Vox away, to collaborate when I need encouragement, ideas, or feedback. There are plenty of districts using social media to encourage the good in their student learning - just look up #leydenpride. Many schools have hashtags for learning at their school. I will be tweeting #OMlearns to spotlight learning at my new school, Oak Mountain High School.
How we receive feedback as an educator influences our classroom practice. Social media encourages reflection, collaboration, and research of the best and current strategies. This is why I tweet - to learn. I hope I can encourage learning in my classroom.
One of the closing quotes in a session this week during orientation was "If they are not learning, you are not teaching, no matter how good it looks." I am looking forward to learning this year, whether face to face with a colleague or via twitter.
For more of my ideas on using twitter to learn, read another of my posts Battle Scars or What Being Connected Means to Me.