I was talking with a friend the other day who doesn’t use any type of social media. She doesn’t blog, tweet, Facebook or use Pinterest. I asked her why and her comment was, “all of those things are just a way for people to say “look at me, look how great I am” and it’s all just way too narcissistic.” Wow. I had never thought about it this way. This conversation really got me thinking about why I blog, tweet, post status updates and pictures on Facebook and fill up my boards on Pinterest. It comes down to 3 reasons: Inspiration, Collaboration and Contribution.
I am so inspired from reading about other people’s experiences. Tweeting at @iseetrails, I am connected to my trail running community. Reading their tweets about personal bests, challenges, and seeing the workouts they post motivates me. Waking up at 4:45 and reading tweets about people heading out for their morning run helps me put on the running shoes instead of going back to bed. I don’t consider that they are bragging about running 10 miles before 5am, but rather they are sharing a piece of them with me – helping me see what’s possible in myself. Tweeting at @bluskyz, I am connected to my teaching community. Reading these tweets every morning always gives me something to think about, a new idea to try or a great resource to check out. I don’t see a picture of an amazing class creating ramps and pulleys as their teacher saying, “look how great I am”, but rather as inspiration to find out where to get those pulleys so my kids can have an awesome experience, too. I recently was interviewed for a running blog and loved sharing my thoughts on running. I hope to contribute to the running community and perhaps inspire others – just like many of my running friends inspire me. The education blogs I read weekly inspire me with thoughts about my math teaching, reviews and thoughts on books and stories from the classroom. I blog here to share my thoughts, to reflect on my teaching and perhaps inspire others as well.
Teaching is social, just like learning is. At least for me. I need to talk about what I’m doing, get ideas from others and have a place to go when I am staring at a blank planning sheet wondering what I’m going to do next week. Collaboration is a critical piece in a profession that can be somewhat isolated. In my 20 years of teaching, I’ve had times where I’ve just felt lost. Whether it’s thinking about how to reach that reader who is struggling, or how to create a meaningful learning experience around squirrels, or how to push our talk in small group math instruction or what good book to read next – I’ve needed others to help me make sure my teaching is the best it can be. In addition to the wonderful colleagues I work with and talk with, Blogs, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest do that for me. I feel like I have a global network of educators who push my thinking, challenge me, share wonderful ideas and help me when I am stuck. And I want to help others as well. I don’t want to always be the one taking ideas and suggestions – I want to give that back. I know how grateful I’ve been when I’ve read that “just-right” blog post that helps me have an “a-ha” moment over a struggling mathematician, or how excited I get when I see an idea on Pinterest that I can use or adapt and change to make it perfect for my students.
I don’t blog, tweet or pin for people to say “wow, look at her”. That’s the LAST thing I want people to say. It’s really all about contribution. I want to contribute to teachers, parents, students – and to the world. I want to make a difference and help someone get “unstuck”, just like so many others have helped me. I want to push people’s thinking, just like so many others push my thinking. I want to give back to the community of educators, just like so many have given to me. It’s through all of these contributions that I am the teacher I am today. My class has a kindergarten cheer we do (taken from a mix of ideas I’ve seen other teachers do – our movement comes from an adaptation of a handshake our dance teacher used to do – and our saying from a comment I read on a classroom wall years ago). We say “together, we can do ANYTHING!” It inspires us, encourages collaboration and helps us see that we all have something to contribute. Teachers need each other more now than perhaps any other time. How lucky we are to have so many places to pull from when we need something – and to contribute, when we have something to share. And together – we CAN do anything.
How do you use social media to inspire, collaborate or contribute to your teaching life?
What social media do you find helps you most in your teaching and learning?