October is designated as Connected Educator Month and the hope is that we can get more educators engaged in social media to improve practice and deepen the ties with those that are already connected. I conducted a webinar for the elementary school administration in my school district to demonstrate the benefits of social media use in education. While I was happy that we had over 30 active participants, I don’t think that was enough, considering there are over 130 elementary schools in our district. The reason I think more Principals and Assistant Principals did not participate is that their view of social media is seen as an afterthought to our practice and something that isn’t worthwhile. We are at a time right now where public education and our schools are under attack. Our teachers and schools are bombarded with assessments and new standards that must be mastered and it can all be a little overwhelming. This is the perfect time to highlight the amazing things taking place in our classrooms and schools with social media.
I have heard from administrators that they don’t have time to use social media. More than one administrator has shared with me that I must personally have too much time on my hands to Tweet out the events of my school, to connect with other educators, and to blog about my experiences and thoughts. My feeling is that I will do anything to help make my students’ lives better. Connecting with educators throughout the world has helped me to do so. I have learned more in my year and a half as a Twitter participant than I have in my previous 14 years in education. The reason for this is because Twitter and social media have allowed me to hear about best practices on a regular basis. It has provided a platform for my teachers and I to connect with others who are passionate about student success and to read their self-reflective blogs. We have learned about innovative programs and ideas that we have brought back to our school. My connection with the teachers and staff that I work with has also deepened, as I am able to share my educational philosophy and beliefs through Twitter.
I want to implore all of you to take advantage of social media, as there are conversations and learning taking place all around you right now. Social media is a free tool that levels the playing field, as it reaches everyone. Instead of using the tired format of a monthly newsletter, try connecting on a daily basis with your school community as you share what’s happening in your school and classrooms via social media. The two major takeaways that I hope that my webinar participants and those reading this blog come away with are: social media heightens your professional development and it allows you to tell your school’s story.
- Professional development on Twitter is 24/7. You can connect and learn whenever and wherever you are. Read blogs. Explore educational journals and magazines. Participate in Twitter chats. Twitter has allowed me to refine my vision and prioritize what I want for my students. If my staff and I had never connected with others via social media, Genius Hour would not be taking place at our school; we wouldn’t have teachers discussing student blogging and the maker movement; we might not be exploring flexible learning spaces throughout our building. I promise you that you will become better at what you do through your connections on Twitter.
- “If you don’t tell your school’s story, who will?” Eric Sheninger writes about Digital Leadership in his book of the same title. He tells us to be the “Storyteller-in-Chief”. Alert everyone to the wonderful things happening in your school: the awesome teachers, the innovative programs that you present, the community events and activities that you hold. We need every educator right now to present and publicize all of the good that we are doing in public schools. This goes beyond me just recommending this to you. I truly believe that it is your responsibility to do so. Our chosen field of education needs your voice.
Get connected people! Your students, parents and community are waiting to hear from you.