|"The Art of Social Media" by Flickr user mkhmarketing | CC BY 2.0|
I used to think Twitter was just for celebrities. What they wore, who they’re with, and where they went. Then, I discovered that the true superstars on Twitter were educators.
My foray into social media started in 2011 when I received the opportunity to teach with an iPad in my classroom. I was ready to transform my teaching, but I didn’t know where to start. I did not have access to technology trainings, and no one else I knew used an iPad for teaching. Thus, I did what many people who do in situations like this: I went on the Internet to find inspiration. That’s where I discovered that some of the most dynamic and creative teachers were on Twitter. They were using this social media tool to connect over ideas, share resources, and participate in meaningful conversations.
At first, I was hesitant about using social media so publicly. My Facebook account was solely used to share my personal life with family and friends. My privacy settings were rather strict, and I didn’t “friend” anyone who I had never met in person. However, I realized that if I truly wanted to grow as a teacher and collaborate with other educators, I had to force myself out of my comfort zone and leave my metaphorical island. It turned out to be the best decision of my teaching career.
On Twitter, I discovered that I could learn from educators from all around the world. Through this platform, I was able to expand my Professional Learning Community beyond my own district and create a Personal Learning Network (PLN) on my own terms and based on my interests. It was a place where I could design my own professional development by learning from other educators, all while sitting in my pajamas.
From Tweeter to Blogger
Twitter’s 140 character limited really forced me to be focused and concise in what I shared. I found it an extremely fitting and useful platform for sharing links that I think other educators would find valuable or tweeting out ideas that others would find interesting. However, there were times when my thoughts could not be expressed in such a succinct format, and soon, I found myself blogging to meet that need.
My First Dive Into Blogging
When I first decided to start a blog, I didn’t really have a plan. I hadn’t studied the art of publication and my sole purpose for writing was to share ideas. For my first blog post, it felt natural to introduce myself and my approach to using technology in the classroom. I didn’t have aspirations to be a blogger. I was writing for me, not necessarily the world.
Developing My Voice
Over time, I realized that many bloggers write for three basic reasons: to be informative, to be reflective, or to be entertaining. I became a teacher to help others so I easily gravitated towards the first two reasons. I wanted to share what I was working for me, and in turn, hopefully help someone else in return. Soon, I was writing about, which learning management system I liked best, why I gave up my iPads for Chromebooks, and how I was implementing Google Apps in my classroom. I found that readers really enjoyed hearing from my personal experiences and how it differed from theirs. Many teachers read blogs to gain new ideas and to find tips to make their jobs easier. Soon readers were leaving comments on my blog, asking questions or wanting to continue the dialogue. This is what blogging is all about, the interchange of ideas and the exploration of other perspectives.
My blog gave me the space to further share my pedagogy and reflect on my practice. It gave me a place to challenge myself, organize my thoughts, and find my voice. Blogging provided a creative outlet where I could push myself to become a better educator.
Becoming an Active Participant
To be honest, I never thought I would carve out an identity for myself on social media. That was the most surprising outcome when I first set out to use this platform to improve my practice as a teacher. At first, I thought I would just be a quiet observer. However, being an active participant is definitely much more rewarding, allowing me to explore new territories as a learner and new worlds of possibilities.
I hope your quest to finding your voice is a rewarding one. Taking the plunge isn’t as scary as some may think. Please share your adventures with social media in the comments below.
Originally published on KQED's "In the Classroom" blog. Reproduced courtesy of KQED.