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Ways Social Media Can Benefit Educators (and Pitfalls to Avoid)

February 14, 2019

If you have spent any time with children at all, you will know that social media is a huge part of their lives. Not only is it a big part of their lives, but for many of us adults as well. It can be a powerful resource to connect and communicate. So how can you leverage social media as a teacher to help your classroom and career grow?

Communicate with Parents and Students

Social media presents an incredible opportunity to communicate with parents and students. Unlike a static website, social media offers the opportunity for interaction. A parent may not take the active step to go to your blog to read about a classroom project but may get involved after seeing a post in their Instagram feed. Social media also presents an opportunity for interaction. For example, if you set up a Facebook group for your class, it can be easier (and more comfortable than making a phone call) for parents and students to ask questions. It also allows you to respond to more immediate concerns, such as questions about that night’s homework. By tapping into the social media outlets that students and parents already use, you can bring them into your classroom community.

Social media can also help you build rapport with students. If you are engaging with students professionally through social media, you can forge a better connection that may carry over into the classroom. Social media can also be a great way for teachers and librarians to model good digital citizenship, which is a crucial skill for students to develop.

Collaborate and Communicate with Other Teachers

Social media can be a great way to communicate and collaborate with other teachers, both in your district and around the world. Voxer (which can also be used to collaborate with parents and students) is a great tool for talking with and learning from other teachers and administrators. Unlike other forms of social media, Voxer allows you to send voice messages in addition to photos and text messages. You can also listen to conversations on the go and many teachers have formed learning networks on Voxer to share ideas. The University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education has some great resources regarding Voxer teacher communities you can join!

Enhance Your Professional Development

Want to know how other teachers are using the latest educational technology? Chances are, you can find out on Twitter. Following educational partners, like Capstone, on Twitter or Instagram can help you learn about new developments in pedagogy, workshops, or conferences. Also, forming relationships with other teachers can even help you get a job – if you build a solid relationship with other teachers online, you never know who may be able to help you in the future.  

Find Inspiration (And Lesson Plans)

Are you looking for great ideas for your next curriculum unit? Social media may be the best place to start! Try searching hashtags regarding your topic on Instagram and Pinterest. Chances are you will find some fantastic ideas, and if you are lucky, pre-planned lessons. Social media groups on Facebook are great places to seek out resources as well. A teacher’s time is precious, and if someone has already put in the hard work to develop a standards-based lesson plan on your topic, social media can help you take advantage of it. Make sure that you are carefully evaluating sources and following your district’s standards guidelines for lesson plans, but Pinterest and other social media sites are fantastic for gathering inspiration.

Social media can also be a great way to find personal inspiration. Teaching can be a challenging job – finding a community of other teachers on social media can be a great way to find inspiration, share challenges, and talk about solutions.  

Pitfalls of Social Media

While social media can be an excellent resource for educators, it can have some potential pitfalls. Before you establish a social media account to use professionally, make sure that you are following all your district’s rules on social media. It’s also a good idea to use separate personal and professional accounts. Additionally, don’t be too chatty with students; some districts prohibit “friending” a student on social media. Even if your district doesn’t have these rules, keeping things professional is important. Lastly, don’t overshare or say anything on your profiles that you wouldn’t say directly to a parent or in class.