By Kayla Burrow, Marketing Communications Specialist, AVID Center
“Smart phones and social media expand our universe. We can connect with others or collect information easier and faster than ever.” – Daniel Goleman
Chances are you’re reading this on a mobile device, and if you enjoy what you read here, you might use the “Like” and “Share” buttons at the bottom of the blog to let others know. (Thank you in advance to those of you who do!) We live in a world where information is literally at our fingertips, or in our pockets, or in our bag nearby, and we’re not only consumers of information, we are also publishers, sharing and creating content daily.
Many cringe at the thought of social media, and these people rattle off reasons why they don’t engage with it, but there are just as many reasons to give it a try, especially if you’re an educator. Here are my top five!
1. Stay connected to thought leaders who inspire you.
Many influential education writers and thought leaders can be found on social media, especially on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. These include organizations like AVID, Edutopia, and Dell Scholars, which all work to provide helpful, thought-provoking resources for educators and students. If you’ve found specific education writers who excite you, take a look on social. Chances are you can find them sharing thoughts and starting conversations on the topics that matter to you most. Convenient access to their resources and strategies on social media might just give you an idea to inspire your students.
2. Amplify messages you care about.
As I said before, we don’t just consume on social media, we publish, share, and create messages that can potentially reach thousands of people. That thought can be a little intimidating, but it’s also empowering, especially for educators who can sometimes feel voiceless in the larger conversations on education and reform in our country. You are experts, and your thoughts matter. Also, you are a key advocate for your students. Nobody else knows your students and what their educational needs are better than you! Add your voice and let yourself be heard!
3. Continue the conversations you start at trainings and conferences.
Almost every major education training and conference has a hashtag that participants and presenters can use to connect and share on Twitter. Before and during any of these events you attend, make sure you look for the hashtag to follow. You’ll be able to take part in a backchannel chat, where you can connect with like-minded folks and presenters who inspire you. It’s also a good way to share what you’re learning and take powerful (and even fun) photos that show your key takeaways and your participation at the event. These connections and conversations can lead to more discussions and networking opportunities in the future, too!
If you’re attending one of our AVID Summer Institutes this year, be sure to connect using #AVIDSI16, and if you plan to join us at our AVID National Conference in December, use #AVIDNC16.
4. Share ideas, strategies, and best practices.
Superintendents, principals, counselors, and teachers from all different content areas and grade levels are sharing their knowledge and asking questions on social media every day! Twitter has organized education chats using hashtags. Pinterest has countless pins and boards with classroom and lesson ideas. YouTube has a multitude of engaging video resources. (Fun fact: YouTube is the world’s second largest search engine behind Google.) LinkedIn has groups that allow educators to create a community of like-minded folks who can share and discuss topics of interest. Looking back on my time in the classroom, I wish I had realized the network of educators out there on social media ready to share ideas and help each other. I could’ve saved myself some frustration during lesson planning by tapping into this resource.
Some of the top hashtags for AVID educators are #AVID4College and #AVIDFamily (especially on Instagram), as well as the AVID Summer Institute and National Conference hashtags previously mentioned.
5. Engage students, colleagues, and your whole community!
Everyone, from large school districts to individual classroom teachers, is using social media to engage with students, parents, and their community in positive ways. This is allowing people to connect and see field trips, student work, award ceremonies, sporting events, and so on from anywhere in the world. Social can be a powerful way to show the good that is happening and a powerful tool to have more engagement from the parents and folks in the community. (See our blog, Building a Scholarship Buzz, for an example of this.) My only caution on this is to ensure that you know your district’s photo and social media policies. You may want to connect with your district’s communications manager for tips, as well, and to collaborate on any community engagement.
I hope I’ve persuaded you to give social media a go; your voice as an educator matters, not just for you, but for your students, as well, and there is a world of other educators out there who are ready to talk!
Are you already social? Connect with AVID Center!
Kayla Burrow has been a member of the Marketing, Communications, & Development team at AVID Center since 2012. She was a first-generation college student and received her Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Texas at Arlington in English and Secondary Education. Kayla has worked in education in many roles, including AVID tutor. She taught English at Grand Prairie High School Ninth Grade Center in Grand Prairie, Texas, where she was also the AVID Elective Teacher and Coordinator. Now, she works to help spread the word about AVID and all the great work AVID educators are doing around the world.
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