As teachers, we HAVE to tell our story. If you google “teachers in the news” you will see many negative articles about education. The extraordinary efforts by teachers are generally not considered news by our 24/7 media machine. So we must take control of the narrative if we want this to change. Social media can be leveraged to share the challenging and exciting work that students and teachers are doing every day. Blogs, Twitter, Facebook,Tumblr, Instagram, and Pinterest are all effective tools. DON’T BE HUMBLE. Nobody knows more about the extraordinary effort it takes to educate our youth in the current environment than you. If you can’t take up this challenge yourself, let your students tell the story! They can take charge of a class account on any of these sites to share work, reflections, and information. I recently read the blog of a first grade teacher who has her students tweet about the learning in the classroom daily through a class Twitter account. Brilliant! Let’s all work together to use social media to tell our story of strong public schools and outstanding public teachers.
Besides reaching out to others, social media can be an amazing professional development tool. And for those of us with computer access at school or home, it’s free! I am using Twitter to talk about the work in Maine schools, but a secondary benefit has been how efficient and effective it is for accessing innovative ideas. Some of the nation’s leading educators post daily about their instruction, their professional work, and their position on educational issues. Tech educators post links to new sites and ideas. Just today I came across information about a new partnership between Google and National Geographic to provide a data base of historic maps from National Geographic, ready for use in class on Monday! Finally, it is allowing me to keep an eye on the national discussion in education circles. No surprise that the recent focus has been on Common Core, teacher evaluation, and high-stakes testing.
You don’t have to dive in all at once. But I challenge you to use digital tools to educate others about the focused and supportive learning environment in your school and to provide yourself with efficient and effective professional development. Hope to see your Twitter handle soon!