For those who don’t know me, you need to know one thing…. I am very passionate about what I do. I will even admit, I can be kind of a wrecking ball at times. I work hard at what I do because I believe what I do is a very important job. So, it should not come to any surprise that, at times, this passion can get me into trouble. There are those who do not understand where I am coming from and while I know it is important to realize that everyone is at a different place in their own journey, I sometimes get so excited I can be a bit overwhelming. And, then, of course there are those who might come from a different perspective than myself and so then the debates begin, which I really do enjoy.
What is the point of all this you are wondering? Well, not too long ago, a debate occurred on twitter with myself, some other educators and someone on twitter about the validity of social media in an educational sense. A lot of things were shared back and forth on both sides, but one comment shared really stuck out for me as I tried to go to sleep last night. This person shared that “teachers are at the heart of education….” and while I think this is a great sentiment and a nice thought, I really will say I disagree. For me, my students are at the heart of education. Everything I do, every activity I come up with, every idea and strategy I use comes from me thinking of my students and how best I can help them learn and be successful. I have students that come into my classroom and the things I teach will be grasped so easily, I know I need to challenge them. But I will also have students who come into my classroom challenged, where things do not come so easily and now I want to find ways to reach them and help them so that they too can be successful in my room.
And guess what… social media is a tool, a very powerful tool that has helped me. I need an idea on how to adapt a lesson, I send a question out and the professional learning network I have is there to share ideas and strategies they have used that might help me. I want a suggestion for a book that might reach that one student I have that just doesn’t seem to like reading, I know again I will find a multitude of ideas to help me. I am wanting to give my students a chance to see their learning come to life, well social media has flattened the walls of my classroom. My students have talked to authors who have written books they loved, shared ideas with other students across the globe about what they have been learning and how these other students learn, and so much more. Some of the most powerful moments I have had was when I saw one of my students’ face light up when I told them Mayor Iveson tweeted out he loved their Minecraft design, and when during a livestream event, my students’ question was answered personally by the author whose book we had just read, this girl just couldn’t believe it.
Doing my demo of learning this week, I had parent after parent tell me their child was excited to come to school, and when they asked what had happened at school that day, instead of the “I don’t know” that many offer, theirs had stories to tell and share about our adventures. So that tells me I am doing something right. And please know I am not alone in realizing this, there are so many passionate educators out there who know, when used well, authentic and engaging learning experiences can come from the use of social media.
So to this person I say you are right, social media is just a tool, but it is a tool I will use, for myself and my students because for me, they are at the heart of it all.