Eep-!! This blog is late! It’s the end of the school year and there are events every other day at my school and my kid’s schools. Throw in my dad having a heart attack, iPad collection, and today a softball tournament. Well it’s been busy, crazy, and I’m just sharing it ALL with you! I think I share a lot, because I am a teacher, or am I a teacher because I like to share a lot? Ugh, I can’t do the philosophical gymnastic routine for that concept, especially tonight! What I do know is most teachers I know like to share!
The world of education has always been about sharing. Sharing ideas, resources, programs, current events, and the news. Teachers love to share, they are naturals at it. It IS what they do, pretty much all day long. Many educators want to share more. Any time I put out a survey for professional development, the teachers request time to share with their colleagues.
Why is sharing so important? Why are teachers compelled to share? Is it an obligation? How does it ultimately help our students? How can we support sharing and adding to the greater body of knowledge?
Collaboration is key! Sharing ideas, procedures, and the practice and art of teaching, helps us as educators and ultimately our students.
Where and with whom do we share? If you’re a GAFE (Google Apps For Education) School, Google makes it possible. Google docs, sheets, forms, videos, and blogs are great places for sharing and collaboration. Google Plus Communities venture into the Social Media world. However, the community members have to be invited or approved. It’s a great way to share information in a monitored environment. At our middle school, our principal has created a Google Plus Community for our parents and teachers. Teachers, staff, and building administrators can post information to the community for the parents and guardians of our students. Events, assignments, activities, athletics, and daily pictures of classroom activities can be posted. Families are invited virtually into the building, thus creating a sense of community and improving relations. As an educator you can join educational communities to gather resources and share experiences.
Another great way to access resources and information about teaching is to follow other educators on Twitter. This allows for global collaboration and sharing. This past fall I facilitated a Professional Development (PD) at our school about using Twitter for Professional Learning and Professional Growth. Why Twitter? Well, it’s personalized. You can follow topics and tweets that are relevant to your content area, grade level, or interests, You can check the tweets at your convenience. You are not relegated to an assigned seat at a PD session in your district, it’s on your time, when you want it. Think of it as Professional Learning On Demand!
The Twitter PD was well received. Many of my colleagues signed up for Twitter that day. In fact, some had trouble verifying their accounts, because so many teachers were signing up with the same email ending. I was hopeful that my fellow educators were going to jump on and Tweet and share about their expertise, experience, and knowledge and maybe even their classes. We have rock star teachers, who do great stuff!!! Some did! We always have those early adopters who want to experiment and try things out. But, for most, they became stalkers at first, and then slowly began to tweet. Stalking is fine! As an educator you can gather a great deal of knowledge and access resources by stalking. But there is even more learning in sharing! There is even more value in adding to the body of knowledge! Why?
When we are contributing to the greater body of knowledge and accessing it as a resource, we become networked with other educators, sharers, and leaders. The networked teacher is learning forward. Adult learners need a variety of resources to be actively engaged. They need to demonstrate their voice and choice. Using social media allows them to be engaged, self-directed, and reflective about their learning and practice. The reflection is MAGIC! When do we, as educators really get to think and process how a particular lesson, activity, or day went? Maybe for five minutes in the car on the way home? It certainly is not enough. Sharing opens you up to feedback, comments, and others’ perspectives. This enriches the teaching practice. Think of it as a dance! Sure you can dance by yourself, but you can have more fun dancing with others.
Social Media can be intimidating if you are not use to it, or understand who can see your tweets. I think this may be the culprit for may educators not tweeting. I use my Twitter account primarily for education related topics. I don’t post my personal opinions, politics, or events from my vacations. I keep it focused on education. This helps me connect with other like minded educators. Educators have valid reasons for being concerned about social media, however keeping it focused on education will help you to self monitor your tweets.
So where do you begin? Besides checking out my Twitter PD Presentation, you can also follow the recommendations on Edudemic.com. They have a great Teacher’s Guide for Using Twitter. If you don’t know who to follow, try following other Educators. We Are Teachers has a great list for educators to follow.
Good luck, and I hope I see you in the Twitterverse!