In today’s world, social media can often be seen with negative connotations, but I have learned that social media has the power to transform your classroom culture if you give it the chance.
I recently moved to a new district, and I remember feeling frustrated when I learned that I was required to create a classroom Facebook page. I felt like it was just another thing on a teacher’s to-do list. My supervisor told me, “It is an open door. We are giving parents a chance to see what really happens. How will they know unless we show them?” It sounds silly, but this didn’t begin to resonate with me until I heard Frozen’s “Love is an Open Door.”
“It’s nothing like I’ve ever known before! School (should have) an open door! School (should have) an open door!”Frozen
Many assume that there’s only a negative effect with social media because people choose to broadcast the negative. I’m using social media as a way to showcase more positivity in the classroom whether it be through pictures, class activities, or fun chants. How could other teachers, my boss, my students’ parents or guardians and others in the community know what occurs in our classroom? By embracing social media and using it to provide a window (or an open door) into my classroom, I allow them to be there with us.
Providing an open door shifted the culture in my classroom from teacher-centered to student-centered. I try to post something every day on my class Facebook page. Am I always successful? Absolutely not. I’m human. But the days I do are days I feel most supported as an educator.
Seeing what’s happening in the classroom helps parents understand better
Like I mentioned, I’ve seen a huge, positive impact of using social media in my classroom! Parents can observe what their child is doing, learning, succeeding at, etc.
One day, I emailed parents asking them to review content with their student for an upcoming assessment. I showed a video of myself teaching a lesson and the students responding to the content, and one parent sent me the nicest email.
She told me when she went to review the lesson and had no idea what “tens” and “ones” were. She wasn’t sure why her daughter had said ten was tall and one was small. So, after she watched my video, it was easier for her to review it with her daughter. Our class vocabulary, chants, and mnemonics are unique. If we want parent support we need to provide them with the understanding of how we use those tools to teach.
My principal wanted to create buy-in with our parent community. She wanted parental and community support. How can they support what they don’t know?
Parents should see that learning happens in the classroom, but also outside of my four walls. That’s why our music, art, and P.E. teachers take pictures too. Every Monday morning, we stream our campus-wide House Meetings on Facebook Live. Why? Buy-in. Parents need to see what we do.
I have received unimaginable support since I started using social media in the classroom! Parents see room transformations and the experiences we are providing, and they want to contribute. They even ask to volunteer. People want to participate in something they see is valuable. They see it is as valuable because they see their student is being valued.
Show successes, not failures to address concerns
WSISD has really thought about both the positive and negative effects of social media. I’ve yet to come into contact with a parent who doesn’t want their student on social media. But, of course, I am very cautious about what I post. Obviously, parents don’t want any negative portrayal of their child on the Internet. But, what parent doesn’t want their child’s successes broadcasted? Here are some things to consider.
Every teacher in my district, and students in specific grade levels, are required to participate in a digital citizenship class. This keeps online interactions safe and establishes boundaries.
Social media might seem scary, but take a risk!
When teachers tell me that social media has no place in the classroom, it tells me they probably haven’t tried it, or that they don’t want to grow as an educator. If you haven’t tried it, I dare you! If you want to become a better educator, that means you have to step out of your comfort zone. Teachers who are uncomfortable take the greatest risks, and usually, see the most success in their classroom.
So, I say, try it and see how much you love it! See how opening our doors as a school for parents, other teachers and our community can create buy-in. See how it can shift the classroom spotlight off of you and onto your students.
Having an open door is scary! Being vulnerable is terrifying. It takes courage to reveal your classroom to the public. I share morning meeting lessons, reviews, content, songs, chants, successes–everything. It may seem daunting, but it is the most rewarding experience, and we connect with others through our vulnerability. Parents need those connections. Students need those connections. Our community needs those connections. An open door has unlimited gains!