I'm excited to have been invited by a fellow educator, Mr. Kelly Christopherson (@kwhobbes on Twitter) to participate in the #saskedchat summer blogging challenge. Since I've just started this blog, I'm always looking for jumpstarts, and this is a great one! I love the subject for this week- "Sharing".
I'm a teacher of many mantras, but one that is central to me is that I shouldn't ever be doing something in my classroom that I wouldn't want someone else to see. Effective teaching, in my mind, requires many things, and one of these is transparency. Now I don't know that this necessarily needs to require posting a formal lesson plan every day; this has always seemed overly tedious. But I believe teachers are responsible for sharing what is going on in our classrooms. Our principal, our superintendents, and certainly our parents need to know, deserve to know, what is happening. More than that, our colleagues need to know.
I've taught for 11 years, and always considered myself a teacher who embraced growth, and was active in finding ways to achieve it. Last summer, while at an eLead conference, I was encouraged to get onto Twitter. Best decision ever! Over the course of the past year, I have developed more relationships with colleagues all over the country, have communicated with #eduheroes more, and have grown more as an educator than I could have ever imagined. But, as I used the platform to grow in my practice, I found that it also provided an awesome way to share the work in our classroom with admins, fellow students, and parents. I love taking pictures of student work and posting it, love it more when a parent likes or retweets it, and love it best when students themselves move it forward. In so many ways I'm frustrated for not getting onto Twitter sooner.
I've been fortunate to read the fantastic book Kids Deserve It! recently, and two thoughts shared by the authors really stand out while writing this post. The authors discuss social media as a tremendous communication medium. I've never been one to hand out my cell phone number to students or parents (still a personal rule, more on that in a minute), so when students had questions, they were encouraged to either wait until the next day, or email me. I've always been good about checking email, but I have to think about it, and there were always delays. Now that I'm on Twitter, and I allow students to follow my professional handle, they tweet me questions all the time, and I get instant notifications, and moreover their fellow students can see the questions and answers. Love it!
The authors of Kids Deserve It! also quoted another #eduhero of mine, Angela Maiers, who said "When you are not sharing your brilliant ideas, you are doing a disservice to others." I'm not sure how many "brilliant" ideas I have, but I have passion for the craft of teaching, and we all need that to be shared as much as possible.
We educators work in a world in which sharing is just as important as it always has been, but is infinitely easier than ever before. This brings with it rules, digital citizenship if you will. For me, when sharing through social media, the rule is always to remember that once it's shared, you can't take it back. Therefore I keep the personal and professional distinctly separate. I have Facebook, Instagram, and a personal Twitter account. But my current students are never allowed to follow me until after graduation. My professional Twitter is the only medium through which current students can follow, and as such becomes the primary "sharing" method I use for my classroom. Another of my mantras is that I go to Facebook to socialize, but I go to Twitter to learn. Rarely does anything personal (other than the occasional picture of my incredibly adorable kids) go on my professional Twitter.
Sharing is an absolutely fundamental practice in effective teaching. I hope to impact someone else, but I know that I have been deeply impacted by others having shared with me. I am thankful when my son's teacher shares something they have done in class, and I hope that the parents of my students, and the students themselves, enjoy it when I do the same. Educators need avenues of growth, and digital sharing is such a great way to achieve this! We teach better when we are challenged, when we are inspired, and to borrow a line from two of my #eduheroes Adam Welcome and Todd Nesloney, our kids deserve the best teaching we can provide!