One of my favorite things about working at Tech4Learning is when teachers share the incredible things their students create in the classroom with our tools. Sometimes they email me a recent experience or share a story on Facebook. Othertimes I spot a new sample on YouTube or see them share in person at an education conference.
The growing popularity of social media means I often get to views into many classrooms in one day! I use Tweetdeck to monitor my followers and several things I am interested in such as #wixie and #creativity.
Since so many of your are obviously doing amazing things with Wixie, I wanted to encourage you to share what you are doing on social media, especially if you haven't started yet. It’s time to “tweet” your own horn!
Many teachers don’t like to talk about themselves or their work, but from the little bit I get to see each day, I am certain you should be proud to share what you do. It is time to tell your story.
Set up a Twitter account
While there are lots of ways to share on social media, Twitter is a pretty easy place to start.
If you don't already have one, set up a Twitter account to represent your work as a teacher. Upload a profile image so parents, students, and other school and district staff recognize you. If you aren’t comfortable with your photograph, ask a student to draw or paint one for you. Mine is by my amazing 2016 High Tech High Intern Holland Cooper!
Write up a short description of the things that make you unique. This is a place to begin letting parents and community learn more about you. Share your interests, but also accomplishments. If you are already blogging or have a classroom web site, include this link in your description.
You can also set up a Facebook account, especially if your school has a Facebook page, but you aren’t supposed to have multiple Facebook profiles. If what you share with family and friends is different than what you would share with parents, this can be a big problem. Although it is wise to only share things on social media that you would share with kids in your classroom, no matter which account.
Step 1: Start with what you do
You don't have to be a Twitter expert, or "lurk" for years, before you post. Start by sharing a picture of learning in your classroom. Take a picture of your redesigned reading area or a display of student artwork. Capture students working with math manipulatives or showing off what they know in Wixie!
A picture of a project in your classroom can help parents better connect and understand what you are doing. Your idea may also inspire a fellow educator to try something new or revisit a past experience.
While a normal Twitter message can contain 140 characters, adding a picture means you have only 120 characters. This is a great opportunity to really focus on what is important.
Be sure to include Twitter accounts for you school or district, so they know what are you doing, as well as hashtags for initiatives you are working on so you can become part of the collective results of that work.
If you post a Wixie project, include the #wixie hashtag. Social media power users take advantage of tools like Tweetdeck and Hootsuite that allow you to explore streams based on hashtags. For example, my Tweetdeck has a #wixie column, so I can see what teachers are doing with Wixie.
If you are a Wixie power-user, you can share student projects too! If you know the URL of the project, you can always copy and paste into a tweet.
There are also social sharing options within Wixie (see * below). At the Home tab for students and Students tab for Teachers, you may see a green sharing icon. Click this icon to share projects via social media and or email.
*Your social sharing may be turned off or have a different setting from the account shown above. Your Wixie account administrator has the right to adjust social sharing seetings. They can make all projects require a public key to view, as well as adjust who can share projects and how they share them.
Important note: Acceptable and Responsible Use
Before you post pictures, especially those including students, make sure you are aware of your site’s acceptable use and responsible use policies. Schools and districts have a range of social medai policies for staff and students, so be sure you know what is in place at your site.
If you are going to share an image of students, make sure parents know before hand that you might do this and get a signed formed from parents with this permission.
Step 2: Share what others are saying and doing
We often tell our students that their friends say a lot about them. This is true for your social media following too! Choose to follow the Twitter accounts of educators, and other people, you would be proud to be associated with.
It is easy to start with other teachers you know already on social media. Rather than following accounts from a list created by someone else, follow people you enjoyed hearing at a conference or the author of a book your site is reading together.
Watch the Twitter streams of these people for new ideas and thoughts that interest you. Retweet what you want to share with your network of parents and educators.
Once you have tweeted pictures from your classroom and maybe even retweeted some of your favorite articles or quotes from education leaders, parents can get a sense of who you are as a teacher by looking at your stream. It is also how other educators will get to know you and your style.
Step 3: Begin reflecting and sharing that reflection
To really become a better teacher, you need to build in time for reflection. Keeping a blog about what is happening in your classroom is a great place to do this. It takes time to blog and you can't really write, without reflecting. Share what you did and what you did to prepare, and reflect on:
• What happened that you didn't expect?
• How students reacted (thinking and behavior)?
• What you learned about your students?
• What you learned about your teaching?
• What might you try differently next time?
This reflective process helps your administrators learn what you are doing and how they might better support you. Your social media feed serves as an alternative resume. Because you are always adding to it, it also shows your learning journey and growth as a teacher.
Sharing your process and making your teaching visible is hugely helpful for other educators trying to implement similar projects and processes! As you share on social media, you not only contribute to your students learning, but the learning of the larger education community.
PS - I'd love to see what you are doing! Include @melindak in your tweet to alert me.