For the last few months Oregon EdChat (#OrEdChat) has been doing a book study on Lead Like a Pirate by Shelley Burgess and Beth Houf. This past week we were discussing Chapter 15: Unleash Social Media to Tell Your School’s Story. This message isn’t exactly new to me. I’ve heard it many times and it’s something that I am completely onboard with!
Each time I read about or discuss the necessity of telling our school or classroom’s story with the world, the wheels in my head start turning (I’m not sure they ever really stop…). Although I might think this is a completely necessary part of the educational world we live in, I tend to be in the minority. So many of the educators I work with are still not on social media for anything professional much less sharing their school/classroom story. We’ve all heard the expression, “If a tree falls in the woods and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” It makes me think… “If I’m doing amazing things in my classroom/school and I don’t share them out on social media, does it make the same impact I COULD be making on my students, families, and community that I serve?”
By sharing our story we make our selves more relevant to our students, more accessible to families, a better connection to our community, a stronger support system to other educators. That sounds FANTASTIC! This is exactly what I want to be as an educator. We know our job is more than just teaching a lesson. We also know what things make teaching easier to do. Building relationships, creating connections, finding our people. So why don’t we do it? Why don’t educators jump onboard and set sail on the Social Media ocean liner? Everyone has their reasons but I’ve narrowed it down to three of the most common reasons I hear:
- Fear- Fear of social media, fear of the unknown, fear of what families, students, or community members might say.
- Time- No time for anything “extra”, no time to learn how, no time to keep track of it all
- Knowledge- Don’t know how social media works, don’t know how to get started, don’t know what to put out there
Todd Nesloney and Adam Welcome say it very well in their book “Kids Deserve It” when they say that we all have time for exactly what we make time for. Isn’t that the truth? What we make time for shows where our priorities lie. As educators our priorities are extremely important not just for us but for our students as well. The way that we prioritize our time directly affects our teaching and our students’ learning. So how do we encourage others to take the same jump into social media that we have? How do we get them to walk past fear, pick up knowledge, and reprioritize their time? I think that we can first and foremost be models. If I share my classroom’s story on social media and then share my successes in doing so with my colleagues, it gets them thinking and asking questions. They can see how sharing my story is positively impacting my classroom and my teaching. Once I get their wheels turning, I offer some knowledge. We get together and look at my classroom’s social media, create an account for them, and get them started on the right track. Once they start to see the value in sharing their story, being on social media starts to make it’s way up the priority list which means….more time!
This is not a failsafe plan by any means. Sometimes it’s successful in days and sometimes it takes months or years. And then again sometimes it fails epically. But for better or worse, I keep on sharing my story and my classroom’s story because at the end of the day I know the exponential benefits it has for my students, families, and community.