Social media – benefit or hassle? #Aprilblogaday

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#wordswag #digitalleadership

This month, I have decided to participate in the #Aprilblogaday challenge. To help with topics, I am using the prompts provided by Meredith Towne (@BklynMeredith) a teacher in Brooklyn, NY. Yesterday’s prompt was: What role has social media played in your teaching practice, teaching community? Good and Bad.

I started using social media in 2007, to keep an eye on my older children. As I became more involved in its use, I began to discover the power of mass communication provided. At the time, I taught at a residential treatment facility for juvenile offenders, so I was unable to employ social media for connecting with parents and students. However, I began to follow influential educators, read blogs, and listen to podcasts. I was hooked.

It took me some time to begin to ask questions and seek help via social media. In 2010, I began to understand the power of social media in a job search. I was able to check out schools and leaders. I recognized some schools and educators did not use social media. I used their Web sites to determine social media policies, so I could answer questions about my use.

When I became the administrator of a small, Christian school, I learned about the importance of social media in marketing. I read more information from Michael Hyatt and Dr. Rick Newberry. Both provide valuable content about using social media for marketing. Additionally, I used social media to seek out information about social media use policies and user agreements for students/parents.

As I discovered more education-related podcasts, I heard more information about Twitter chats and the unconference movement. I started following, then participating in different chats. I attended several EdCamps and other similarly focused events. At each event, I learned more about how other educators are using social media to connect and collaborate. I began to experiment more with the use of social media for communication. I started using the school’s social media accounts to share school happenings, announce snow days, and communicate with parents.

When the school closed and I changed positions, I focused more on connecting with other educators and helping fellow educators to utilize social media to communicate and share. Last summer, I presented, at the #TeamJXN EdTech Kickoff, about using social media management tools to post to several networks at the same time, to schedule posts, and to follow hashtags. I shared the value of Hootsuite and Buffer. We explored how teachers and administrators can use these tools to limit their time spent posting to several different social networks.

Additionally, I attended the presentation of Sarah Soper (@soperclassroom) about how she uses social media to connect with her students. She discussed the use of chats and backchannels for class discussion. I found the presentation valuable as I stepped back into the classroom last fall.

My current school only utilizes social media for communicating with parents and sharing school happenings. No class or teacher accounts are used. I have not asked about their use, but I will for next school year. I believe the benefits far outweigh the potential negatives. Moreover, as teachers explain, discuss, and model proper use of social media students will observe and learn.

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