Social Media and the Modern Day Teacher

Within the last year, social media has consumed many parts of my life. I always used it as an outlet to connect with family and friends around the world, mainly for personal purposes. However, this year I have found my use increasing because of professional reasons. Twitter has been an incredible source for growth, knowledge, and professional development. The weekly chats, quick answers and help, and amount of knowledge out in the twitter world has helped me grow more professionally than in my many years prior.

I use twitter for professional purposes only and have found it to be incredibly meaningful, but obviously it can be used for both professional and personal. Should there be a distinction between the two? Is it important to have separate accounts? What would be the reasoning for this? I always remember the phrase that someone said to me once, “If you can’t say it in front of your students, perhaps you shouldn’t be saying it at all.” So what would be the purpose for having separate accounts? Is there something to hide, or is it for privacy reasons? Aren’t educators allowed to have a life outside of work as well? Some good questions to consider and think about.

Tonight’s #edtechchat focused primarily on this: social media for the teacher and in the classroom. It’s interesting to note the various opinions, ideas, and reasons for them. Although there was much more discussed and shared, here’s a quick summary:

Question #1: Do you separate what networks you use based on professional vs personal use? Why/Why not?

Question #2: What are your district policies regarding blogging/social media in the classroom? What’s the impact?

Question #3: Does your district have policies regarding blogging/social media outside the classroom or for personal use? Helpful or not?

Question #4: Should you separate your personal and professional lives on social media/blogging? Why/Why not?

Question #5: Has social media ever caused a problem for you or someone in your district? If so, how?

Question #6: Has tonight’s #edtechchat discussion made you rethink your use of social media (professional or personal)?

After this chat there were a couple things that came to my mind. First, the use of social media, whether as an educator, with your students, or in the classroom will have ups and downs. Unexpected things might happen, but how you deal with them is key. Those are your “teachable” moments and cannot be ignored. Educating students, teachers, and parents about digital citizenship and leaving a footprint behind is crucial and essential. Second, sometimes district policies can be frustrating and challenging. Social media allows for numerous possibilities, but when the media consistently focuses on the negative or “bad” things that happen, it can be challenging for a district to move forward. Just remember that there will always be schools more advanced and embracing social media, as well as schools with strict policies. Change happens slowly, but when it does, you need to be ready for it!

Here are a few resources gathered from the chat:

9 Essential Social Media Tips for Educators
Teachers Owning Their Learning
Personal and Professional vs. Public and Private
6 Most Outrageous Social Media Mistakes by Teachers
3 Mistakes That Parents Make With Technology and Online Safety

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Children of the Social Media Age

Real-world-digital-world

Arriving home about an hour earlier than normal, I ventured out on a walk with my lovely dog. The bells must have just gone and the students dismissed from their day of school, as the pathways and sidewalks were filled with chatty children. A group of energetic girls, I’m guessing somewhere between grades 6-9, approached me asking me if they could pet my dog. I said yes, as my dog was mauled with loving hands, and we chatted a bit about their day.
One of their friends from afar shouted out, “They already started the conversation!”
“Started the conversation where?” one of the girls replied.
“On Facebook,” the boy yelled in return.

After spending a day discussing technology, and having my head “in the cloud” I decided to probe a bit more. I asked the girls if they were on Facebook, to which they all sarcastically replied yes, looking at me like I had five heads. Questioning them what other social media sites they were on gave me a list of most of them: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, etc… I inquired which was their favourite, and of course that was way too hard of a question for them to answer. They had different reasons for each site and used different sites for varying purposes.

The conversation was quick and although I had many more questions to ask them, they had to carry on to not miss out on their Facebook conversation. As I continued on my walk, my mind filled with many questions. I think as educators we are always thinking about the safety of kids, and I couldn’t help to do the same thing with these girls. Kids are so quick to learn new technologies and are able to master them with ease, which to adults, can be misleading. Although they know how the technology works, and can navigate through it, do they know how to use it safely? Do they know that with one click of a button their lives could be changed forever? Do they know, at such a young age, that they are responsible for creating their own digital footprint? Do they know how to create a positive one?

I believe more than ever that we need to teach children how to responsibly use these new technologies. Most likely they aren’t receiving this information from home, so they need someone to share it with them. This can be overwhelming to an educator, but I have a list of resources to help you out! In the last year, our educational technologist (@SalimaHudani), introduced us to a fantastic site called Common Sense Media. It is filled with K-12 resources organized in a cohesive way to teach digital citizenship and literacy. It’s a great starting place. As well, Media Smarts provides ample teacher resources, directly linked to Canadian provincial outcomes. Here are a few other sites for teacher resources on digital citizenship:
Digital Citizenship Resource List
Cable in the Classroom
BrainPop

The world can be a scary place, but I think it always has been, it is just a different kind of scary now. We have the chance and opportunity to keep our students safe, through knowledge and education. Will you embrace it?