“How has social media changed the way you teach in the middle grades?”

After almost a month of frustration and self loathing about my reflection writing, I was re-inspired last night to get back up on that bucking bronco and write about #MSchat! The conversation was a weighty one and for good reason. Any time you gather a bunch of connected educators and administrators together to talk about how beings connected online has changed the way you teach, you are going to get a ton of responses.

I’ve noticed over the past few weeks that #mschat is starting to really take off. I’ve seen many familiar faces for sure, but I’ve also seen an influx of new voices. I couldn’t be happier about this growth. Only a few weeks ago we were lamenting in one of the chats about how difficult it is to convince other teachers to get connected and see the value in a platform like Twitter for professional development and resource ideas for our instruction. My how quickly things can change. It feels like the tide is starting to come in and we will start seeing the number of teachers online grow even faster than before. #excitingtimestobeaTeacher!

The first question of the night was asked by one of the co-moderators, Mr. Dru Tomlin @DruTomlin_AMLE.

“How has social media changed the way you teach and/or lead in the middle grades?”

I know from personal experience that using social media like Twitter has impacted me in ways I couldn’t imagine only a few short month ago. I had been persuaded to join twitter almost three years ago but never actually used it on a regular basis until this past Autumn. I believed (incorrectly) that using social media was only for celebrities and kids with waaaaaay too much time on their hands. I just didn’t see the value of adding it to my craft.

I was wrong. So. Very. Wrong.

This #mschat illustrated, perfectly, the power that Twitter and other forms of social media have to change the educational landscape for the better. Answers to question #1 got started with some insightful tweeting from none other than @nyrangerfan42 who summarized things well with his tweet:

“so many new resources and ideas have expanded my classroom options! instant feedback and suggestions!”

and @mrgranito

“SM forces me to try new things because of my network.”

So true. Being a connected educator on Twitter has given me more options to approach a topic or concept than I ever thought imaginable. The icing on the cake is that these ideas that are being shared are shared by professionals who have actually tried things out in their classrooms. These are the professionals and experts that @dunford_paul was referring to (I assume) when he tweeted.

“Social media has allowed me to tap into the thoughts of experts and expert practitioners that shape my thinking”

think about being able to ask an expert in whatever field of teaching you are in and then (suprise, surprise!) you get a response in less than an hour FROM THAT VERY PERSON! @CherylTeaches had a similar thought about it with this:

“I read ELA PD books incessantly, but would not have known about #tlap without Twitter. @burgessdave rocks!”

Professional development from experts that you would never had access to is one of the main selling points for me and my use of Twitter. Most teachers read incessantly about their craft and yet they still don’t have access in real time to ask experts questions. @AngelaWillyerd brought up this very point with:

“Social media allows more communication w/ Ss & professionals.  Brings more opportunities to rural schools w/ limited resources.”

This is a powerful new way to learn about our craft and push forward towards 22nd century thinking. It is the cutting edge of education.  @hornsclassroom made a cogent point with the tweet

“social media helps connect my classroom to the real world in real time”.

Well said. When engaging in a twitter chat for educational purposes, you get the sense that the information that is flowing back and forth is what is happening RIGHT NOW in education. This is the cutting edge of where our profession is. It really is a ‘game changer” as @JamieArmin tweeted

#mschat Wow! Major game changer! So many great collaborations & opportunities opened up with Twitter, GHO+…lots of new try-outs, esp #PBL

The ability to connect with people from around the world and hear about things you would never had the confidence to try yourself is what makes social media like twitter so powerful for educators.

Old policies that often restricted the use of technology in the classroom are now being revisited and rethought because of the connections that teachers are making online. We are the ones, not our students, who are trying to tear down the barriers to technology.

@evelyn071809

“devices were once turned off; now we buzz with exploration, creating, and games!”

We are buzzing with exploration, creation, and games. YES! When we, the educator in the room, are the ones who are buzzing with excitement, it is infectious. Our students feed off of our excitement and enthusiasm for learning. Being connected online has the power to do that. These points were echoed by @Stanton_Lit:

“Only one month in to Twitter and I am hooked.  The #PLN the amazing chats like #mschat and the resources and blogs shared, such value”

But being connected to other teachers and improving our professional development in real time isn’t where the conversation stopped. Many people in the chat were also focused on how social media (Twitter, et. al) has changed the way they view their students and their students’ educations. One newcomer to #mschat was @NaturalHigh who responded to @DruTomlin_AMLE with:

“great way 2 activate students & influence peers w/their personal content, effective 2 meet them where they’re at #mschat

and @8rinaldi said:

“Changed my whole teaching practice – now facilitate to empower Ss to be collaborators, sharers, creators and global learners”

putting the power of education into the hands of students is something that most, if not all, educators strive for and dream about. Hearing stories from educators on Twitter and seen the results of their work playing out before me through video has made me realize just how true those two statements above are. My entire philosophy towards education is shifting. I am letting go of previously held beliefs about the role I play in my class and what role I can let students take charge of. Things that will benefit them directly when they reach the infamous ‘real world” (not the MTV show…)

@MrAllardSS summed things up pretty well with this tweet:

#mschat changed how I format, prepare and deliver lessons. Offers new ave for Ss voice in/out of classroom”

I’ve been listening to these new voices here on Twitter, and I believe that we’re on to something big. The wave is gathering steam.

 

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