Social Media Tips from Connected Educators
October, 2016, Volume 40, Issue 2
October is Connected Educators Month, which encourages educators to expand their professional learning network and look for ways to connect with others around the country and the world. Though social media is key to fostering these connections, there are still many educators who have plenty to learn.
In a recent blog post, Learning First Alliance asked some social media-savvy educators how they’re using social media, and what advice they had for those looking to become more connected. Here’s what they had to say:
Which social mediums do you use, and how often?
“I mainly use Voxer and Twitter. I started on both platforms last fall and since then have not only developed a stronger network of leaders to reach out to, but have improved my own abilities to be an instructional leader at my school. I also started my own blog as a way to house ideas, programs and interests to share with my professional learning network.” (Jessica Cabeen, principal of Woodson Kindergarten Center, Austin, Minn. @JessicaCabeen)
“I use Twitter a lot—both to learn about and to share resources, including my own posts. I also share resources on Pinterest, Facebook and Google Plus. I use my blog to primarily keep track of resources, lessons and ideas that I use in my own classroom, and share with others in case they’re interested, too.” (Larry Ferlazzo, high school teacher, Sacramento, Calif., and blogger, @larryferlazzo)
How did you get started on these platforms?
“Our social media manager on our communications team suggested that I start tweeting about a year and a half ago—her advice was, ‘if you’re going to do it, you need to be consistent about it.’” (Susan Enfield, superintendent of Highline Public Schools, Burien, Wash., @SuptEnfield)
“I typically get started by experimenting with different tools to find out how they can best support our district.” (Nick Polyak, superintenden of Leyden High School District 212, Franklin Park, Ill., @npolyak)
What’s most useful about social media? How does it help you perform your job better?
“It is Professional Development at your own pace—on your own time. With Voxer I can join in on a conversation during my commute home, in the AM before work or when it is most convenient for me (and when I can fully engage). With Twitter chats and Twitter I can save lists and hashtags to refer back to when I need particular information. Both platforms have helped me tremendously in looking at problems with a new lens and with new research while not requiring me to read text books and case studies. I can ask real-life practicing educators about what is working and why and then take that knowledge and make it work for our school.” (Cabeen)
“I’m able to perform my job more efficiently and with greater precision because being connected using social media tools like Twitter and Voxer gives me access to people who, quite frankly, are much smarter than I am. For example, when our school started investing in a fleet of Mobile MakerSpaces several years ago I reached out to members of my Professional Learning Network and asked what some of the best tools and opportunities were for kids to create. The responses I collected yielded powerful advice that saved me time and money.” (Brad Gustafson, principal of Greenwood Elementary School in Plymouth, Minn. @GustafsonBrad)
What if you are just getting started on social media? What is your best advice for using social media effectively (without it taking up all your time)?
“Have a message and schedule tweets in advance using a service like TweetDeck. Organize your ‘tweet interests’ into hashtags so you can focus and filter that which you seek (i.e. #Engage109, #suptchat, etc.). Don’t get overwhelmed, start slowly with a purpose and let it grow from there. Don’t be afraid, it is where your public is! There are more than a billion folks on Facebook…it’s not going away anytime soon.” (Michael Lubelfeld, superintendent, Deerfield Public Schools District 109, Deerfield, Ill., @MikeLubelfeld)
“Using it to collect and curate ideas is fine. However, the most beneficial aspect—to you, your students, and your colleagues—will be putting time into creating something new with what you learn and sharing it. (Ferlazzo)
To hear more from these connected educators, check out the Learning First Alliances’ post on their blog.
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