5 ways teachers can benefit from social media
Social media is changing the networking landscape for educators. It’s no wonder more and more teachers are using it to build their professional profile and extend their learning network.
1. Free, focused, and personalised CPD
Teaching is a continual, often steep, learning curve where continual professional development is essential. However, traditional whole-school approaches to CPD have taken a fair amount of stick in recent years for being inflexible, unfocused, and a waste of time and money.
With school budgets tighter than ever, social media networking and access to best practice resources are becoming more mainstream. Social media platforms now host a wealth of CPD resources and professional expertise that can empower teachers to access personalised learning opportunities and take control of their own career development.
2. Connect and Collaborate
Before the rise of teacher social media, collaborative planning and development only happened in physical meetings, restricted by time and location. Now, teachers of all levels are connecting with, and engaging in, discussions across a global teaching community. More and more teachers are being encouraged and inspired to join online conversations that focus on improving the wider learning environment.
These conversations and connections foster further opportunities for teachers and students to learn from each other.
Not only can these connections offer valuable peer to peer support, but they can build partnerships between schools and students around the world.
3. Bursting the Bubble
Connecting via social media extends a teacher’s professional network far beyond their own school. Not only can teachers learn from other schools in their country, they also gain inspiration from classrooms on the other side of the planet.
So, why is this important?
Day-to-day, it can be really easy to fall into the same old routines and patterns within a classroom, department, and school just because that’s how things have always been done. Without any knowledge of other schools, it would be easy to assume all schools work in the same way. Instead, teachers who are active on social media stay abreast of the latest developments in global edu-thinking. They open themselves up to fresh ideas and approaches, and are motivated to adapt their practice and try new things, in the pursuit of greater professional and student success.
4. Emotional Support
Teaching can be a lonely job, where day-to-day contact with other adults is often limited. It can sometimes feel difficult or inappropriate to approach colleagues for the advice and support, and sometimes that support just isn’t there to start with. Enter the online community. Whatever your concern or situation, you will always find your tribe of teachers online ready to step in and offer advice and support. This is, perhaps, the most powerful way in which social media contributes to the emotional wellbeing of our teachers, making them feel less isolated, more supported and happier in their work.
5. Developing a Digital Brand and CV
Aside from the obvious benefits of community and collaboration, teacher social media profiles act as a valuable digital CV. As more and more schools look for more effective and affordable ways to attract new staff, connections made via social networks will become increasingly important.
Here are some recommendations to help you build your professional brand on social media:
- Think about the way you use your social media profiles. Consider which platforms are best for your personal life and which are best for your professional brand. Platforms like Twitter and Facebook offer a wealth of information and inspiration for teachers and educational professionals. The dedicated teacher social network, teaglo, is an ideal space for teachers to connect with each other, share ideas and develop an impressive digital CV.
- Showcase who and what you are. By including important facts in your profile about the stage of your career, your school, subject, and interests, you will attract like-minded professionals and expand your network with a valuable and useful set of connections.
- Understand your value and your values. Social media provides the opportunity to engage in many topics of debate and discussion. First consider your key areas of interest and begin to engage there. Share your ideas on the subject and begin to have an impact. You might decide to write a regular blog on a specific theme, share resources regularly with your network, or simply join a community and offer support and advice to others. These are all important ways of adding value to your network based on your own educational values, while boosting your profile at the same time.
- Sing about your successes. Do not be afraid to own your achievements. In a sector flooded with negative news, positive and inspiring tales are welcome, and they help to display your strengths as a teacher to the wider community.
- Connect. Be proactive and reach out to others. Offer support and advice. Create real and genuine network. It’s called social media for a reason. Be social.
- Always consider how your profiles, engagement, and discussions reflect on you as a teacher and person. Remain social and respectful in all of your interactions and hopefully all those you ‘meet’ will remain so with you.