May 11, 2018
Episode 19 of The Teaching Space Podcast explores how teachers use social media for personal and professional development and networking.
Welcome to the Teaching Space Podcast, coming to you from Guernsey in the Channel Islands.
Hello, it's Martine here. Welcome to Episode 19 of the Teaching Space Podcast.
Today I'm going to be giving you the lowdown on teachers and social media. Well, I say lowdown. This is a 10-minute episode, so it's quite difficult to give you the lowdown in 10 minutes, but I'm going to try.
I'm focusing on teachers using social media for personal and professional development and networking, not to connect with students. And I thought the easiest way to do this episode would be a Q and A format, so essentially I'm going to interview myself. I hope this works well. Anyway, let's give it a try.
Answer: In principle, no, I'm not, assuming the students are of an appropriate age. I've seen many cases where teachers have used social media to communicate with their learners, and have also used it as an opportunity to teach learners about being safe online. However, for me, and this is very much a personal view, I believe it's safer to use school or college provided channels for communication. This is about me being safe, my professional identity.
So I'll give you some examples. My adult learners, I teach initial teacher training. They're in an evening class and a Saturday morning class, and also some bespoke classes. We have a Google classroom, and my students download the Google Classroom app on their mobile device, and every time I post something in there, they get a notification, so that works really well.
Other schools and colleges might have their own internal social media-like platform. We have one, which is called GCFE Connect, and it's a little bit like Twitter, a little bit like Facebook, but it is only for members of the college, so it's locked down and it's safe.
That's how I feel about using social media with students.
Answer: Yes, if the platform allows it. It's easy to do on Twitter. You can have as many Twitter accounts as you like as long as you have a separate email address associated, but last time I looked, having two Facebook profiles is against the rules.
That being said, if Facebook is your platform of choice, you can safely use Facebook Groups, because you don't have to be friends with your students to do that. If you are going to use Facebook, lock down your privacy settings, and don't use it or any other social media platform to connect directly with individual students.
Absolutely check your school or college's policies and good practice guides on social media use, when it comes to this sort of thing. Don't just take my word for it.
Answer: I use Facebook for The Teaching Space Staff Room, which is our closed Facebook group. I also am a member of some other educational Facebook groups, like the Society for Education and Training group and a few others.
I don't use Facebook for many other things, to be honest. I use Twitter (you can find TTS Twitter here) for connecting with teachers mostly, and for getting lots of CPD and links to really interesting stuff.
I also use Instagram with a focus on Instagram Stories. I'm also on LinkedIn, but I don't really do anything with LinkedIn, other than push content to it, so I really can't speak with any authority whatsoever about LinkedIn. However feel free to take a look at my LinkedIn here.
Answer: Facebook, I would recommend you stick to using Facebook Groups because it's the safest way, I think, to protect your professional identity, and there are some great people to connect with on Facebook. However, it is a very distracting platform, so if you are spending time on Facebook for professional reasons, chances are you're going to spend a lot of time on there looking at Tom Hiddleston gifs and cat videos if you're anything like me.
I also recommend you have your privacy settings on Facebook locked down and you check them regularly. Personally, I have a very small number of friends on Facebook. I tend to use it to keep in touch with people who perhaps don't live on Guernsey, and I want to catch up with them from time to time. Facebook isn't my favourite social platform if I'm really honest.
Let's talk about Twitter. As far as teachers are concerned, I genuinely think Twitter is where it's at. There are lots of teachers on Twitter, and you can really get some great information from there.
My top tips for using Twitter as a teacher, start conversations, talk to people, post regularly, share content, share your own stuff, but also share other people's stuff as well. Re-tweet great content. Ask questions and get a conversation going. Twitter's an amazing platform. I love the forced brevity of whatever it is, 280 characters. You can just get straight to the point, and share really great stuff, so Twitter, definitely a place that teachers should be.
If you look at my Instagram account, you'll know that from a teaching space perspective, I am no expert on Instagram. I'm struggling a bit with being somebody who likes to take creative photographs.
My Instagram aesthetic for the teaching space isn't quite right. However, what I am loving are Instagram Stories. I love being able to talk to camera, and share snippets of my day, so at the moment I'm tending to do on my main Instagram feed, I'm tending to share quotes and links to the latest podcast episodes, and things like that. That's not terribly exciting from an Instagram user's perspective, but Instagram Stories are amazing, so I really recommend you have a go at Instagram Stories and start connecting with other teachers on Instagram that way.
In terms of general top tips for social media use, don't feel you have to be on every single platform. Use the ones you enjoy. Use the ones where you can find your people.
Don't post anything that negatively reflects on you or your profession. I really hope that's a no-brainer, but I thought I should mention it anyway.
And finally, and this is the big takeaway, I would really love it if you took this onboard, and that is start creating your own content, and sharing and talking about it on social, whether it's a blog or a podcast or a YouTube channel.
If you can start creating your own content, you are going to have plenty to talk about on social media, and you're giving something back to those people on social who already give so much, and I think that is, of all the things you can do as a teacher on social media, creating your own content and sharing it, and talking about it online is going to help you develop personally and professionally in the most amazing way.
Content curation is fabulous, and you will learn a lot from that, but content creation is going to be even better.
Okay, so that's the lowdown, except it wasn't really a very big lowdown. It was like a little lowdown, but I hope it was useful to get you thinking about the benefits of social media from a personal and professional development perspective.
I'd love to hear about your thoughts on this. Are you on social? Have you been frightened to go on social media? Is it something your school or college doesn't really encourage?
Come and chat to me in the Facebook group. I would love to hear from you. I think it's a discussion that we need to have, and I can't wait to hear what you've got to say.
And that's all from me today. I hope you've enjoyed the episode, and I hope you'll tune in next time.