5 ways Social Media has made me a better educator


As I prepare to leave for the BC School Superintendents’ Winter Conference in Vancouver, it’s given me pause to reflect on the ways I’m using Twitter, blogs, and all other types of social media to deepen my practice.  And as I’m aware of the popularity of “top 5” lists, I thought I’d try my own to see how it resonates.

1. Using Social Media stimulates you to think differently.

For some of us who’ve been using it for awhile, it’s difficult to remember what it was like before. But my recollection was of a guardedness, an uncertainty. “Why would I post my thoughts for all the world to see?” But once you do it, you make a transition. You begin to see that you are not a single entity, but part of a world of networked intelligence where people interact, share, dissect, ponder and think together. It’s a personal journey, but once undertaken will certainly transform the way you think. As a leader, it’s an important step because it’s exactly the kind of journey we’re advocating for our students as they become 21st Century learners.

2. It’s made PD a part of my job, not an add-on

Part of the challenge with PD is to make it embedded, real-time, purposeful and collaborative. Within the bookends of our day, and within collective agreements that can be very difficult. But with Twitter, it just adds a layer over top which seamlessly includes your own personal network to the day-to-day activities you are already doing. It’s like a global conversation running in the background, to which you can turn whenever you need advice or an update.

3. The Sea of Talk, the source of all ideas

Judy Halbert and Linda Kaser reminded me this week of James Britton’s famous assertion; “Reading and Writing float on a sea of talk”. For me, Social Media is the sea upon which all my ideas float, and from which all new innovations and inquiries come. I spend a few minutes each day reading, interacting, and posting, and it’s amazing how those few minutes stimulate me to view my day differently. It changes the lenses for viewing students’ work, and the activities of the adults in my building. It forces me to constantly revisit my goals, strategies, and leadership opportunities, and for that I am very grateful.

4. People you don’t know hold you to a higher standard

This is quite an amazing one, when you think about it. Most of the people I follow every day I’ve never met, yet they profoundly affect the way I go about my day. When I read about their innovative projects and thoughtful posts, it inspires me to expect more of myself and contribute to this thoughtful community.  And now, as I’ve begun to post more and more to Pre-service teachers’ hashtags like #wktep (West Kootenay Teacher Ed), #uviced (University of Victoria) and #ntchat, I’ve begun to notice how they’re re-tweeting and “favoriting” my posts. This is me, making the transition from follower to leader, inspiring a new generation of people who I’ve never met to hold themselves to a higher standard.

5. It’s made learning fun

Simple. I love to learn, I’ve always loved it. I’ve either been a student, or an educator, all my life since kindergarten. It was a natural step to leave university and start teaching. But there was a time before Social Media that there was clearly something missing. Conferences were too few and far between (and usually too cost prohibitive to attend regularly). Books were solitary, and book clubs were rare for those interested in education. But now, I feel like I’ve found a “learning home” which fills my life with great ideas and completes that piece I’ve always been searching for.

I hope that resonates with you, and inspires you to take a few steps into this new and exciting world. You’re welcome to follow me on Twitter at @derynron, and join the conversation.

See you there!

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About Ron Sherman

I am the principal of Salmo Elementary/Secondary School, a small rural K-12 school in the Kootenay Lake School District. Happy to be part of the Grand Conversation, moving learning forward and joining with great people every day. Runner, triathlete, skier, blogger, loving husband and father of 2 great boys
This entry was posted in Education, Leadership, personalization, technology and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to 5 ways Social Media has made me a better educator

  1. Lisa Dabbs says:

    Ron,
    I liked the way you chunked your thoughts on this topic. Well done! As a former principal, I spent 14 years in my building and as you pointed out in #5, I felt so isolated. Even though there were tons of colleagues in my respective school district’s, everyone kept to themselves and moaned that they had too much on their plate to even be the least bit “intellectually” social.
    Now though with, Twitter, blogging, Ning groups, etc…the possibilities to connect, and collaborate with others around the world is endless!
    I’m envious that as a new principal you have this powerful component to use in your work, that I didn’t get to experience. 🙂
    I’m the founder of #ntchat and I’d love to connect with you to be a guest on our chat. Let me know if you would be interested.
    All the best to you as you continue to learn, grow and lead!

  2. Resonate with me! I thought ! I thought you must be psychic.I love that you have so clearly articulated many of my thoughts. As a mature teacher, and life long learner, I am trying to change my practice to include the technology my students will need in their future. First it was computers, then, laptops, now iPads ! I am even retweeting and leaving replies on blogs! With the support of my younger colleagues, I will make all this new ‘stuff’ work to improve the education of my students.

  3. AJ Sikora says:

    Hi Ron, this is a great post! I just recently started using Twitter and Blogging to develop a PLN and to network with educators and pre-service teachers such as myself. I am starting to see this shift that you speak of, where I am becoming more comfortable with putting thoughts out there on the World Wide Web. Also, the more I read the more I want to get involved in this. Social Media can be a great tool for educators.

  4. I really appreciate this post! I think you have a wonderful perspective on this. As a pre-service teacher I have been fortunate enough to have instructors who have introduced me to the world of social media as an educator. It was truly never something that occurred to me before but I can already see how it can be a great tool for my own professional development. I think it is so cool to have access to fellow pre-service teachers who might be struggling in the same way I am, and to also get to view thoughts and ideas of experiences professionals!

  5. T. Henriksen says:

    Ron,

    I love your list here! Social Media has been such an important part of my growth this year! It is amazing how many wonderful educator and educational leaders there are who are so willing to share their thoughts, beliefs, and, even, resources. What a great place to learn! A year ago, I would have thought it was a bit crazy, but now I am a believer in Social Media – especially in terms of professional development.

    Thanks for this post. I also look forward to hearing more about your journey of personalizing education for your students.

    Tia

  6. Hi Ron,
    I came across this blog post while reading your latest post and needed to say, as others before me, that it truly resonates. I am growing and learning so much as a vice principal this year and attribute this growth to the power of Social Media and my own growing PLN. Thank you for articulating how Social Media is influencing you as an educator. It is a great blog post to share with others.

    Sue

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