Saturday, August 20, 2011

How Should Teachers Use Social Media?

Imagine being told that you can not blog. Or who you can friend on Facebook. Or that you can not tweet. How about you can do all of those things not only so long as they are not related to your job? This may sound frightening to many of us because this is how we learn, but for some this is a harsh reality. To decrease the likelihood of these policies popping up there are things that can be done.

1) Provide and/or seek professional development on ways to use social networks in the classroom. They can be used to encourage conversation, as formative assessments, research tools, and a method to disperse information to multiple audiences.

2) Have separate accounts for work. Have a Facebook page, not account, for your classroom. Do the same for Twitter, YouTube, blog, and Google+ Circles. Use these as tools to engage students in learning and critical literacies. Use them to engage and inform parents.

3) Share only positive things about your students and be sure NOT to disclose full or real names to protect them. The same is true for colleagues and administration. When children speak negatively about other people we call it bullying.

4) Speak generally about education policies and not specifically about your colleagues, administration, school, or district. Disagreement is healthy and necessary in a democracy. However, there are ways to do it without pointing fingers or embarrassing those who made decisions.

5) Know WHY you are using social media in and out of the classroom. For example:
~ I use Facebook and Twitter in the classroom as a way to inform parents and share resources with them, but also as a tool to engage in my students in critical literacies. I blog in the classroom to engage my students in critical literacies as well.
~ I use Facebook personally to be social with friends and family, just be silly. I use Twitter personally as a professional tool, engaging in conversations that shape my teaching and philosophy. I blog to share educational ideas with other educators.