social network
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Alec mentioned this past Monday that as teachers, we can’t avoid digital media. It’s not that new policy you can hope to avoid until it is abandoned. Believing that you can ride out this storm and not change the way you operate is like being alive when Gutenberg invented the printing press and thinking that being able to mass produce literature was just a fad.

When Alec said those words, for some reason I thought back to a blog I had read of his brother, George. In his blog titled, “Visibility creates accountability”, George uses the example of when teachers see that other teachers are using Twitter, it essentially puts pressure on other teachers to push the envelope themselves and expand their personal learning network. Social media is, if nothing else, a highly visible medium and this visibility does put pressure on teachers.

Have you felt it?

I know I sure have. Just spending 10 minutes in our classes google community or following our class hashtag stresses me out. Everyone is doing amazing things and has amazing ideas. I feel pressure to expand my learning network, to rethink my teaching philosophy, to incorporate technology in new ways. When I was newer to these forms of media in EC&I 831 last fall, it was more stressful as I felt the need to have to try and read everything, check out everything. It’s impossible. This year I understand a little more how to use these media outlets in a way that is more balanced.

social media
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I still feel the pressure…but perhaps that’s good!

It’s good not to be complacent. It’s good to want to improve. It’s good to see what else is being done to continually raise your bar.

The idea behind a market economy is that competition ultimately drives innovation and efficiency. I’m not saying teachers should be competitive with each other, it’s not like we’re competing for a big shiny trophy, but we should see what others are doing and that should motivate us to be better. I love when summer holidays come around. I’m desperately in need of a break, but by the time July 10th comes rolling around my wheels are already turning about how I can be better for the next year…and the planning begins!

Apart from utilizing this media as a form of pressure in the name of professional development, I think there’s another valuable implication that comes from social media use. We, as teachers, don’t typically do a good job of advocating for our profession. We always complain about how the public doesn’t get how hard our job is, how much extra work we put in, etc etc etc. How do we change their perceptions??

Why not show them?

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Can we not utilize social media to allow a ‘glimpse’ into our classrooms? Why not show off what goes on in our classes? In this blog by Howard Stribbell, ‘Engaging your school community through social media’ there is a quote that I particularly like which says, “if you are not telling your school’s story on Facebook, someone else is”. If we take a backseat stance to social media in the classroom, we have no power in telling our stories. I also think that oftentimes negative news tends to hit the media while the positive stories are left untold. We need to be active in social media to change many perspectives in the public. In Jeannine’s blog ‘Social Media in Education’ she states that, ‘social media also offers an opportunity to enhance personal and professional reputations’. I couldn’t agree more.

Digital media could be our most powerful advocacy tool. There’s amazing things going on in many classrooms, let’s show the world!

Live long and prosper