Does your doctor use leeches? Does your dentist use doorknobs and string? Of course not. If we want medical professionals using contemporary practices, shouldn't we expect the same from other professions, especially teachers? The best way to stay current is to be a connected educator. Being a connected educator means using social media to improve your practice and help other teachers improve theirs. Here's how to do it.
First and Foremost - Twitter
Twitter is the main event for connected educators. It's where we live. It can be overwhelming. Start small and start learning from others. Create your account. When choosing a handle, your name is best. If you can't get that, pick something simple and avoid numbers - they're out of style in Twitter handles. Use a picture of your face and write a bio that includes what you do. Profiles with Twitter eggs for pictures and no bios are not taken seriously. Start off by following a few education Tweeters to start learning.
These tweeters represent a small sample of the wealth of knowledge on Twitter. Following them will provide enough content to change your practice. Please note their bios for ideas about writing yours.
Another way to find content on Twitter is using hashtags. Any continuous text with a "#" in front of it is a hashtag. When tweeting, include a hashtag to get more people to view your tweet. Simply search for the hashtag to see what people are tweeting. Popular education hashtags include #edchat, #edreform, #artsed, #ellchat, #GAFE, #educolor, #edumatch (connecting educators with similar interests), #mschat, #engchat, #ELAchat, #msmathchat, #musedchat, #ntchat (for new teachers), #scichat, #sschat, #spedchat, #sped, and #tlap (Teach Like a Pirate).
There are Twitter chats associated with many of these hashtags but it is acceptable to use them even if a tweet is not part of the chat. For example, #educolor chats at 7:30PM Eastern on the fourth Thursday of every month. However, anytime you have a thought or content to share about including students of color, it makes sense to use the hashtag "#educolor" in your tweet.
Twitter has value for your practice! If you're skeptical, please read How I overcame my cynicism about Twitter and became a #connectededucator by Catharine Stanley-Davis.
You Have a Voice. Blog it.
You will learn a lot from Twitter. But others should learn from you! You do awesome things in your classroom - share them with the world already! No one will shine the light on what you do it you don't. Think about the strategies, tools, and ideas you can share with teachers that would improve their practice. Set a goal of posting once a month. Blog more often if you feel inspired. In a year you will have created an invaluable resource for teachers all over the world. There are great free platforms such as WordPress, Blogger, Weebly, and EduBlogs. You can even buy your own name as your URL though it is not required. For example, I pay WordPress $28 a year for tommullaney.com.
As for content, stick to the awesome things you do in your classroom. Personal reflections are fine but they are usually not terribly useful to the education community at large.
Google Plus - That's Not a Misprint
Google Plus never put Facebook out of business but it is surprisingly useful for educators. It is like a much less cluttered Twitter. Google Plus communities are great for teachers looking to get and share ideas. Once you start blogging, members of Google Plus communities will read your posts when you share them. Communities to join include Educators on Google Plus, EduMatch, ISTE Teacher Education Network, and Teachers Helping Teachers. Do you integrate technology into instruction? If so, join Instructional Technology Teachers & Coaches. Additionally, find your local Google Educator Group and join it.
Join the Discussion - We Need You!
I hope this helps you take the leap and become a connected education. The connected educator community is a valuable resource but the discussion needs your voice. If you would like to speak more about this, please comment below. Better yet, learn by doing: connect with me on Twitter. Thank you for reading.
Thank you Canva, the tool I used to make the image for this blog post.
FULL DISCLOSURE: I HAVE NOT RECEIVED COMPENSATION OF ANY KIND FOR MENTIONING THE PRODUCTS OR SERVICES IN THIS POST. I WAS NOT SOLICITED TO WRITE THIS POST AND I HAVE NO RELATIONSHIP WITH ANY OF THE COMPANIES MENTIONED.