Twitter. Pinterest. Blogging. That list could go on because social media is everywhere. With all these social outlets being shoved in our faces, how do we as teachers decide which to use? Should we even use them? My somewhat biased answer is a resounding yes; especially as we scramble for resources in our transition into Common Core State Standards (CCSS). Follow me as I present you with three easy steps to help you seamlessly enter into the world of social media.
1) What do you need?
If you’re reading this, and you’re a teacher, I already appreciate the precious minutes you have devoted to this cause. Our time is incredibly valuable, because let’s face it, we don’t have much of it. Getting yourself started on a social media platform will take a small time investment; therefore streamlining the process by identifying exactly what you want out of it is crucial. Do you need to connect with other educators to discuss, collect, and share CCSS resources? If so, I highly recommend Twitter or Pinterest. Most of the CCSS resources I use and promote have come from connections I’ve made with other highly effective educators on Twitter. Start by following me, @brookster29. I keep my Twitter account solely for professional and educational purposes (something I recommend), so anyone I follow on there would be good for you to follow too! Some of my favorite CCSS resources come from @PSESDliteracy, @achievethecore, or @HuffPostEdu. Before you get started, check out some Twitter tips at the bottom of this post. As for Pinterest, it is a wonderful way to connect with other educators and find helpful resources as well. I love Pinterest because there are more often than not photos to go along with the resource link, and there’s nothing that engages this visual learner more than photos! Finally, maybe you need a more efficient way to contact parents, provide information about homework assignments or awesome resources you want your students to be using. If so, I recommend starting a classroom blog. Feel free to check out how I have set up my blog here.
2) What are the people around you doing?
It is possible that all of those ideas above seem intriguing to you; but also overwhelming. Where do you start? To answer this question, I would take a look around and see what your colleagues are doing. Do you know a group of educators already using Twitter to connect and share CCSS resources? Then start there, as you will see results right away by joining an established network. Maybe some of your Pinterest-y teacher friends are busy pinning awesome CCSS lesson plans and materials on Pinterest; well go ahead and start there! It can be easier to break into something new, especially if you’re intimidated or overwhelmed, by easing into it with friends.
3) There’s really no wrong way to do it!
Yeah, I know that’s not really a tip, but it’s completely true! Try something out, and if you feel that it’s not for you, then no harm no foul. I’ve been there with Pinterest. I realized that I was stressing myself out as I scrambled to collect every Pin that I could. I truly left no education pin (or wedding pin for that matter) unpinned. I finally had to tell myself that it was alright to take a step back from that social media outlet, as it was causing more stress than benefits. Furthermore, when I first joined Twitter, I thought it to be boring and unhelpful. I went back to it a year or so later, and I realized it helped to find people and organizations who shared my interests (the ones I mentioned in step #1) before I could find real value in that tool. At the end of the day, your social media journey is your own, and there is really no right or wrong way to go about it.
There you have it. My quick tips for venturing into the world of social media. I firmly believe that social media can help you grow as a teacher during this time of immense change. I am aware that social media has the stigma of being a “kid” thing, but it has truly helped catapult me into the realm of highly effecting teaching, teacher leadership, and has also played a role in boosting my confidence in the classroom. Is social media for everyone? I’m not sure. However, we as teachers know better than anyone else that learning is constant, and also requires continued growth and the occasional step out of the comfort zone.