This week, I thought I would change up my post a bit a talk about something that I have recently gotten a lot of questions about… so here it goes! Your guide on navigating social media in the classroom!
In my first year of teaching, I realized that I needed to figure out a way to connect with my students on a personal level by integrating who I wanted them to know me as, as well as what we were doing in the classroom. The answer to this open and sharing culture that I wanted to build in my classroom was clear with my grade 8 students- social media.
Here are a few things I did to integrate social media in my classroom:
- Teacher Instagram Account
- Fresh Grade
- Pen Pal Schools
- Class Blog… TBD
This first strategy I had was to create a ‘Teacher Instagram Account‘.
This account would be a way for my students to access personal things about me, as well as things that I would post about cool things we did in the classroom and informational points about what I needed them to know.
Initially, I was a little nervous. As a new teacher, I felt guilty that I may be treading in uncharted waters…no one at my school had ventured down this path. I had so many questions: was I aloud to post images of my students? what would parents think? would this still allow a positive teacher/ student relationship? All of these things did flash through my head and I knew that I needed to set a clear perimeter around how this account would run.
I then did some research, talked with my principal and realized my idea was totally do-able. SO… I did it.
AND… it worked amazingly. I had students (and their parents) connect with me on social media and at first, although not all students were on board, I definitely have the majority of them following and checking into what I am posting. I have students asking me to highlight their work, and I find it to be a great communication tool for them as using the direct messenger feature it easy for them to navigate.
AND I even had a handful of teachers at my school follow my lead and create their own accounts themselves.
If you are a new teacher- I highly recommend making this happen!
I realized as I went through this process that the world of teacher instagramming is HUGE and it is another great way connect with others.
In my opinion, exposing students to social media positively and giving them the tools to use it in a way that will benefit themselves is crucial for the digital literacy and cyber world that we are all living in.
If you don’t allow students access to technology and social media outlets that they want to use then you are not equipping them with the necessary tools to and be successful.
I compare it to never giving a child candy and forbidding it and then one day exposing them to a whole jar. The child would obviously feel temped to eat the whole thing, would probably get sick or get a cavity and not know how to regulate themselves. It is the same if we compare this to social media. If our students are banned from using it or it is not properly taught and regulated in the classroom, then one day when they are exposed to it with no rules, they may not know how to control themselves with use or could go down avenues that are not healthy. It is so clear that teaching proper social media use and modeling it as their teacher is so important to student success.
I am also using an online portfolio program called Fresh Grade, this program is school mandated and is a great social media platform for students to share their work with their parents in a controlled way.
I have mentioned before… BUT Pen Pal Schools is an incredible site that connects your students online to others students around the world allowing them to practice ‘Pen Pal’ skills online. This is a great way to teach students skills to be able to talk to people online correctly and give them a purpose for proper email writing, how to engage with someone online you don’t know, and how to use online chat programs that they could see in their lives.
Twitter has perhaps been my most favorite social media discovery as a teacher. It has exposed me to a whole world of digital networking that has allowed me to share my ideas and learn from so many other teachers around the world. My students are not necessarily using twitter themselves but they are benefiting from the professional development I am seeking from exposing myself to new ideas… if you have not gotten yourself hooked- DO IT.
I am ALSO in the process of integrating a class blog… more info to be announced!
Regardless of the outlet you use to get your students more engaged, I have found that connecting my classroom to social media has had lasting effects in the relationships I have built with my parents and students. Even 5 minutes a day of social media with student engagement can go so far.
Let me know your tips on social media integration in your classroom!