4 Thoughts About Teacher Social Media Use

Teachers should be excited but wary about the new and growing frontier of social media, and how it impacts their students.

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Social Media is, by all accounts, not going anywhere. Some teachers are reluctant to engage with social media while others find it nerve-wracking while still others embrace it wholeheartedly. Those embracing social media run the risk of having their private lives impact their professional lives, while the late-adopters fall behind the curve of modern practice. This tension is at the heart of many articles from professional sources, such as the Ontario College of Teachers. In their June 2016 feature on social media, they quote a local lawyer who says “teachers must be aware that what they do in their private lives can be the subject of scrutiny” (Dubowski, 2016). As Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, SnapChat, and more take over our computers, tablets and smartphones, teachers should be ready to lead the way in their appropriate use. Keeping these four tips in mind is a solid first-step for the reluctant and a reminder to the excited.

Social Media is (Almost) Required

Students prefer engagement through online mediums. Using online social spaces for discussion such as Edmodo, Google Classroom or other social LMS programs. As educators and leaders, it is our responsibility to showcase the proper use of social media. Banning social media, or devices that can access social media, is no longer an option in the modern classroom. Ask your students about what social media platforms they use and investigate them. Engage with them via a professional account and invite their parents to join in.

Social Media is Dangerous

While being a leader means engaging with social media and technology, it is important to keep your professional, and private lives separate. There are many stories throughout the history of social media where teachers lose sight of the boundaries between their personal and professional lives. Do not accept “friend requests” or other connections from students, or post rude, hateful or risqué material. Use privacy controls, no matter how obscure, to limit the exposure of your private accounts.

Social Media is Interesting

Teachers and students alike are interested in social media and the new forms of communication it creates and allows them to access. Your students want to experiment and try out the cool new social stuff that they see online. As their teacher and role model, remind them about being responsible digital citizens, and that online safety applies to old and new social media.

Social Media is Powerful

Social media is an incredibly powerful tool for engaging students and connecting them with others. Organizations, governments, businesses, celebrities and everyone in between has the same access to social media as your students. Using that access can motivate students to take up a cause or discover a passion. It can inspire, as well as discourage. Be sure to support students in being agents of positive social media use.

Social media is here to stay, and using it in the classroom is an exciting prospect. However, it should be treated like a dangerous, useful tool in shop class: lots of safety training that becomes second nature, to securely create amazing things.

 

Dubowski, S. (2016). Going social. Speaking Professionally, 28-33.

Author: Carl Dennis

MEd Candidate at UOIT. Game, EdTech and computer lover.

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