Social media is part of the game. From networking to finding innovative ways to engage students or reinvigorate your classroom, there’s more than one reason to share, click, upvote, like, or tweet.
Along with a recent redesign, Google + remains a useful resource for educators to track down content and connections to inspire and reinvigorate their teaching.
Teachers: are you Redditing? Because you totally should be.
It’s not always about knowing where to search and who to follow to get the most out of social media. Etiquette can be a deterrent. Some schools have bans or strict guidelines for what an educator can or cannot do as far as social media goes.
Blogging and tweeting and liking might feel like things that are going to get you in trouble. But they don’t have to be. In that vein, we have a few considerations to share.
And in the spirit of social, we’ll be building out this section with feedback from Twitter. If you have something to add to the conversation, tweet us @Chalkupedu.
Disclaimer: if your school has a social media policy, always good to brush up on that before taking to the internet.
Should I be interacting with students on social media at all?
There’s an argument to be made that learning shouldn’t be contained to the classroom. And that engaging with students on their turf offers new opportunity to share ideas and provide support.
But there are also clear sensitivities.
First, consult your school’s policy. If there is no guidance provided on connecting with students, use your best judgement on connecting. Look for learning opportunities. Press pause whenever an interaction or online request feels out of bounds.
Putting a firewall between personal posts and tweets and your students isn’t the worst idea.
Next, decide how you’ll use the interwebs for good. Maybe it’s a class Twitter account in which you can accept follows and post relevant content. Or retweet great ideas.
Short answer: you shouldn’t feel compelled to if you’re not comfortable with it. But there is a great opportunity for good here.
I was tweeting and Facebooking before I became a teacher. What should I do with those accounts?
An annual social media cleanse is good for everyone.
You don’t need to delete your account because you’re a teacher now. But you should revisit your privacy settings and think through how’d you’d like to use any accounts that will remain public (and possible for students and/or colleagues to find).
Also an all-around good idea to keep it positive on social. Operate under the assumption that what you throw out there is accessible to anyone. Use those same digital citizenship lessons in your own life.
This means that social media isn’t a place to share confidential info from your school. (You know this. But still.) This means that you don’t take to Twitter or Facebook to bash students or administration.
In the end, be reasonable. Clean up your accounts. Make them professional. Don’t post anything you wouldn’t want the world to see. Seek to make new professional connections - and if you really need to vent - perhaps you can engage your new connections via a DM or email.
I want to be engaging professionally online, but I also want a place for personal interactions. How should I do that?
Consider making an personal and a professional account on a social media platform, if you don’t mind jumping back and forth.
Alternatively, you have the option of separating personal and professional by channel. Tweet about all things edu and allow your students to follow on Twitter, and perhaps save your food photos and family updates for Instagram and Facebook.
Pro tip: familiarize yourself with the “specific people” privacy setting in Facebook.
What can I (or can’t I) say about students on social?
Tough question - and one that is surely up for debate - but it’s clearly a good rule of thumb to avoid using student names. Speaking in hypotheticals and keeping conversation constructive is a safer way to discuss students, if that’s something you’re keen to do.
We always return to the “keep it positive” theme. If you need to reach out to your PLN via a social account to get advice on working with a student, problem-solving and forward-looking language is your best bet.
If you have an uber-specific situation to troubleshoot with a student, maybe you take to e-mailing colleagues and mentors before running to the internet.
But what if you’re truly stuck? And you want to workshop a student issue with impartial third parties? This is a situation that’s potentially well-suited for the /teachers subreddit. This semi-anonymous environment is a good one for presenting teaching situations and garnering feedback from other educators around the globe. Maybe leave out your school specifics, just to play it safe.
If I do want to connect with students on social, what’s the best way to jumpstart that dialog?
Don’t force it.
Present options for engaging (responsibly) as a class on social and pepper in your best digital citizenship lessons/content before starting anything.
My school won’t allow me to interact with students on social media. Any advice?
Well, if that’s the rule, that’s the rule. Wouldn’t advise trying to game the system in any way.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t be making the most of social media for your own learning and growth. Or that you can connect with students once they’ve graduated and moved on. You can also consider online learning platforms cleared by your school on which you can have meaningful conversations outside of class. You might not exactly be meeting students on their turf, but it’s something.
What are the big no-nos for being a teacher who engages on social media?
Always be reasonable, use your head, know your school policies, and aim to use social media for good.
As for big “do not do these things!!!” - here goes nothing:
What are things I absolutely should be doing on social media?