educators

3 Friendly Reminders for Teachers With Social Media

As the school year begins, teachers start fresh. New ideas, new plans, new room layouts. While the new year prep work is completed, teachers shouldn’t forget to double check their social media accounts.

From Facebook to Instagram, Snapchat to Twitter social media has found its way into our lives. Not everyone is on social media, but those who are, especially teachers, should remember to keep these points in mind:

  1. Privacy– It’s always good to do a privacy check every now and then for all of your social media accounts. Check to see what things are shared publicly, and how easy it is to find you. Some teachers opt to use different parts of their name instead of their true last name. This is really up to the individual’s tastes and desires. However, do keep in mind that no matter how locked down you think your account is, it is not private. Those party pictures, drinking, or somewhat inappropriate posts can easily be used against your with screenshots by any of your friends or family, no matter how unlikely you think it is to happen.
  2. Friend Requests– As the year begins and things begin to settle into a routine, you may find yourself receiving friend requests from students and parents. Student requests should never be accepted. Some teachers opt to tell the student that they may send a friend request the day after their graduation from high school, while others do not want to friend students at all, even beyond high school. Parent requests are a tricky beast because while you may get along with the parent at the time, there’s always the chance of fallout. It’s better to be safe than sorry and refuse parent requests. I usually message students and parents who try to friend me to let them know my thoughts, and then I leave them in friend request limbo. Leaving them in limbo means they are always showing on your friend requests page, BUT they can never send a second friend request as long as they still have one pending.
  3. Content– Content brings our social media to life, but it can also be used against us at any time. No matter how locked down you think your account is, it’s not going to keep your content absolutely private. If you’re sharing drinking photos, party images, or anything that might come across as possibly offensive to someone, be cautious. The rule of thumb I usually tell others is that if it’s not something you’d want to share with a respected older person or religious figure, then it’s probably not something you want on your feed. Even if your account is locked to a certain group, always consider everything you post as having the potential to be very public.

If you keep these three things in mind, then you’ll find your life on social media much easier. Of course, you can avoid social media all together, but then you leave yourself open to other issues. That’s a story for another time!

Advertisements

#IMMOOC- Relationships: Connected Yet Disconnected

chain-297842_640

“It is easy to lock yourself in an office, connect with people on Twitter, and appear from your room with some great idea or new thing.”

– pg 90 of The Innovator’s Mindset

As I worked on completing my reading for this week, this particular sentence jumped out at me. No, I’ve not finished my reading just yet, but I suddenly had a realization that this is me right now. As the realization dawned on me, I became very disappointed with myself. I had been doing something akin to this so far this year, and just hadn’t realized it yet. This is not the me I want to be, nor is it the me I should be. Thinking about it, it seems so obvious now. Why did I not see it before?

We sometimes find ourselves settled into our routines and not realizing the impact on others. In fact, one of my goals this year is to build relationships with the teachers around me. I do this in some ways- I attend the same meetings, I give professional development… but it’s not enough. Those are not good ways to build relationships of trust with staff members at either of my schools. I am failing my staff by not taking the time to get to know them or learn about what goes on in their classrooms. How can I help them as the technology specialist if I don’t know their specific needs?

Sure, I love being on Twitter and researching to find new ideas, but I’m not learning how to connect those ideas to the teachers that I serve. As a technology leader, why should they try my new ideas if they don’t trust me or know me all that well?

I can think back to my days in the classroom as a teacher. I remember our technology specialists well. The school I worked at was a smaller school, and usually not often visited by the technology person. I would often go weeks without seeing them. When they did appear, it was to pop in and see if I had any issues. If I didn’t, off they went. I know part of the problem is that in that particular district, the technology specialist was expected to fix things and integrate technology. Though the job description was only about integrating technology, fixing things was thrown in, and often all teachers ever expected.

Would I have interacted differently with these technology specialists had I had a relationship and a sense of trust developed with them? Probably so, but I can’t really say. What ifs are tricky things to contemplate, after all. When I took on the role of technology specialist myself, I worked to develop relationships with staff. I would talk to them about things not related to my job, and it worked in my favor.

It hasn’t taken me long to forget all of that within my move. I’m in a bigger school district, but that doesn’t mean I should be slacking on this. I need to make a change. I see the problem now, and I want to work on correcting it. I may be that person mentioned in the quote above, but I don’t want to be that person. I have failed myself and my teachers so far, but I am going to change that. It’s time to fix it.

If I’m going to fix things, I need a plan. It’s very easy to spend time during my day wandering around to teachers’ classrooms during their planning. The middle school is easier because each grade level has a separate planning period. The high school will be harder, but I will make it work. I know each teachers’ planning period, just not their rooms. Once I get ahold of that information, I’ll be golden. Starting next week, I plan to visit teachers on planning throughout the day. I will drop in and see how their year is going, and begin to get to know them better. I won’t spend too much time, just about 5 minutes and head on my way. I’ll begin to build those levels of trust with my staff and hope that I can bring about some changes in how I do things.

I may have failed, but that’s okay. I can’t always be successful. I can take my failure and turn it around. I’m going to turn this around, and I’m going to be a different person.

#IMMOOC: Stagnate Education

Education is all about the students we serve, which means serving the students in ways that are best suited to their needs and passions. Every school year should not be run exactly the same way. Each class is unique and different. What works for one class doesn’t necessarily work for another class, nor should it.

When I was a classroom teacher, I worked at a very small school. There was only 1 class per grade level. Because of this, I knew my kids well before they hit the 4th grade. The 3rd grade room was next to mine, with a vent in the wall between them. I always tended to hear what was going on in the other room. I got to know my future students all year and their dynamics as a class. I would observe what worked and didn’t work with them, and try to come up with some ideas that would suit them in my room. This wasn’t my only bit of information on my upcoming classes, but it was a part of it.

There are some educators today that are focused on the days of education gone by. They may have taught for many years or they may be in the beginning of their career and remember how they were taught. This school of thought reflects in their classroom teaching style. They teach using a style that was comfortable and good for students of the past. They have newer equipment and technology tools, but they use these tools in the same manner as their predecessors might have. It is not innovative, or better. It is stagnated education, and it fails our students.

In Chapter 2 of The Innovator’s Mindset, there are some critical questions for educators. These are important to reflect on if stagnated education is to come to an end. The questions were as follows:

  1. Would I want to be a learner in my own classroom?
  2. What is best for this student?
  3. What is this student’s passion?
  4. What are some ways we can create a true learning community?
  5. How did this work for our students?

Each of these questions are important, but perhaps one of the most important questions is Would I want to be a learner in my own classroom? Chances are if you wouldn’t want to be there, then neither do your students. Instead of fostering a love of the subject and learning material, your class may end up being the one that turns them off, or that they just do the work in order to get through, hoping the next teacher will do better.

Sometimes we focus on what is easiest to do instead of what is best for the students. Worksheets, textbook readings, and definitions are all easy to prepare for, but are they best for today’s student? Is locking down the use of devices in the classroom the best method? The high school where I am has a BYOD policy, yet so many teachers balk at this and refuse to allow any BYOD in their classrooms. A sign is posted on the door. We fear the change, fear the management, and fear how students might use these devices. So we stagnate instead.

One thing missing from many classrooms is feedback- consistent, regular feedback. We grew up in an era where the teacher was the authority figure, and what they say went, even if it wasn’t something we liked or that worked for us. We just had to do it, and that was that. We never had a chance to say how something worked for us, or how the teacher could help us improve. By talking with our students throughout the year, we can develop ways to impact our classroom for those students, instead of waiting until the end of the year or semester when we don’t teach them anymore and they move on to the next class.

An innovative educator should work toward creating education for today’s students that isn’t stagnate and works in the best ways possible for the student, not the teacher. If we are working to help students, then we must take the focus off of ourselves and place it on the students. They are the reason we are educators after all.