Friday, July 24, 2015

The social tango.

Social media plays a key role in today's society. It's the new form of communication. By now everything has been given a hashtag. Even my dog has one. #ruethedachshund And yet utter the thought of social media in front of teachers bank stare and shudders will surely happen. This not so new form of communication is uncharted territory for educators. We are warned of the dangers that such socializing online might bring on our career. Staff meeting are held outlining social media policies that teachers must abide by for their private lives.

Although we are aware of how tricky social media is we still embrace it in our teacherish way.  We have students edit celebrity Tweets, create Facebook accounts for literary characters and post an Instagram wall in our classroom. Social media is a breeze when it comes to decorations but actually using this resource in the classroom becomes a different challenge.

Social media can be used in one of two ways: communication and instruction.
Students are constantly using their phones to connect with others around them. So why are we avoiding this popular way of communicating? There is no denying the impact educators play in their students lives. We may be the only adult that cares for them or even takes time to ask how they are doing. Building positive relationships with our students is part of the job descriptions. Students are extremely aware when they are liked or disliked by their teachers. When we have positive relationships with out students we are able to get more out of them. There is a level of trust and respect when positive communication is involved. Social media could be used to enhance positive relationships with our students. An Instagram account can be created to highlight classroom happenings. You could assign a student for each class to take over the account and have them capture what they are learning that day. A classroom Facebook group account can be used to keep communication going not only with students but parents as well. I am not saying this form of communication should be constant but it's another avenue to explore when communication is discussed.
A cell phone is always within in reach when students are awake and even asleep it's never far from them. I'm pretty sure they might stop breathing if they are without it. If this device is always by their side than why not use it for our advantage. Set up a Twitter account and have students lead a discussion about a book they are reading in class. Teachers can send SnapChats to their students reminding them of various assignments or assessments that are coming.

The education world must find its place in the buzzing Social Media world before we get left behind. I think it would be foolish of us to be scared away from all the red tape and dangers that this new way of interacting with others offers.

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