For better or worse, social media is an ever-growing presence in everyone’s lives. For teachers, it may seem like a minefield that can lead to distraction or inappropriate behavior. But with some common sense and creativity, social networks can be a positive experience in a teacher’s professional life.
Do: Use it in the classroom
Many teachers are afraid of social media as a tool in the classroom, but when it’s used thoughtfully, it can lead to rewarding educational experiences, increased engagement, and lessons that students can connect to their lives outside the classroom.
To keep pace with today’s hyper-connected world, standards are placing more and more focus on communication in the classroom. In the outside world, much communication occurs online—even in professional settings. Students who can craft a winning tweet or create an effective LinkedIn profile have a leg up on their competition in many different professions. Classroom lessons that incorporate these online networks provide valuable strategies and experience.
It’s also important for students to learn about the challenges around using social media, the potential dangers, and how to discern real information from fake information. Parents play an important role in providing these lessons, but the classroom is a good safe environment for that learning as well.
Don’t: Make your personal information widely available
Knowing the ins and outs of how to protect yourself online isn’t just good for students. Being mindful of what you post on personal accounts is important to your career as well. Take advantage of networks like Facebook which offer privacy controls that allow you to filter who can see what you post. On other networks, like Twitter, you have no choice in who can visit your content and should post accordingly.
Do: Connect with the world
Just as students need experience in communicating with each other, they also need practice communicating with the outside world. Social media can be a great way to bring people into the classroom that would otherwise be unavailable. For instance, reaching out to an expert on Twitter can often lead to further interaction between them and your students (perhaps even a Skype call). Your students can also forge bonds with students in classrooms from around the world, which definitely beats the old lessons built around having a pen pal. Just as the world is becoming flatter, so too should your classroom.
Looking for more strategies to make the most of technology in your classroom? Check out these 21 tips, tricks, and ideas for savvy educators!