In last week’s post I shared a little about the value that connectedness can provide to educators. This week I want to share some of the ways that you can use social media for personalized PD. As I shared last week, online educator communities provide you with 24/7 access to people, ideas, resources, philosophies, and opportunities that can expand your world (and the world of our students). So here are some of the reasons I get excited to connect online:
- Inspiration: Many of the new things that I try here at school are because of something I have learned through a tweet, blog post, or somewhere online.
- Motivation: Several of the twitter accounts I follow are educators who love to tweet out pictures and quotes that motivate me to try to be better. That little bit of motivation can be such an awesome help!
- Challenge: I intentionally follow some people because they have different opinions than me. I do this because I want to have a full background. Every once in a while something that someone shares truly challenges my thinking in a way that makes me reflect on my beliefs.
- Camaraderie: I have been able to find connections with many other teachers and administrators all over the country/world!
- Apps: You can use your digital connections to learn about new apps for a specific purpose, or ideas for better ways to use the apps you already have.
- Humor: Just like our Friday funnies, there are funny things that happen in schools every day. Some of those things show up in my timeline and give me the opportunity to laugh.
- Collaboration: Through online connections you can work with almost anyone in the world. You can find teachers all over the world teaching the same material, and create connections that allow you to learn from them, and they can learn from you.
So how do we connect? And how do we find the time? That’s total up to you, but there are a couple of options that you could try, and the amount of effort you put into them is totally up to you!
Social Media: For me, this is the best way to connect. Twitter is my favorite choice, but Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest are good ones as well. My favorite thing about Twitter is that every post is 140 characters or less. It’s amazing how much info can be packed into such a short amount of space. The biggest thing to know on Twitter is how to use a hashtag. A couple of my favorites are #edchat and #edtech. Tons of great ideas get shared, and if you post something with one of those hashtags, you will get a ton of people to see your post. (For more education hashtags, take a look at the links in last week’s post)
Blogs: There are thousands of blogs about education out there! Most of my favorite blogs that I follow are because of connections I have made on Twitter. I use Feedly.com as an RSS aggregator that keeps all my blogs in one place. Each time a new blog that I follow posts, it shows up in my feed. When I have time, I’ll peek at it. If my day is too busy, I’ll skip it. Feedly can also help you find other blogs based on topics you are interested in. In addition to reading blogs, you can also start writing a blog. Share the things you know – creation is one of the highest levels of thinking. It can also be a huge time commitment – these posts don’t write themselves! Some post daily, some are a few days a week, some are less regular than that.
Being a connected educator will make it easier to transform education in your classroom. You will find new ideas, you will be able to ask questions, and you will be able to share your own thinking and give back to the community! Invest the time that makes sense to you. There are days I don’t get on Twitter at all, and there are days where I have extra time and might spend an hour or two reading, adding, and building connections.
What tools have allowed you to connect and change the way you teach? Share with the rest of us below!