A little help from my friends

I get by with a little help from my friends.

Lately I do more than get by with a little help from my tweeps.

Today was like that. Though I knew I had tons to do – a teacher’s work is never, ever, remotely near completion – I gave myself permission for that chocolate treat of social media: a tweet chat. A switch from daylight savings to standard time found me waking an hour earlier than I needed to, but just in time for #sunchat.

Since there was no specific topic this morning, lots of side chats were going on. Something about student blogging popped up and I remembered I had been frustrated last week by the fact that a student blogging platform I had used with success last year, @kidblog, was now charging for the modest attributes it offered its young bloggers, especially the theme variety. Oh, I could stick with the basic, free version, but that limited everyone’s blog to looking exactly the same. So I tweeted about it and tagged @kidblog. They actually responded, which I appreciate, but the response was’t helpful. They want me to upgrade. I already pay for Germ-X, tissues, Expo markers and extra mechanical pencils out of my own pocket, not to mention occasionally giving away cracker packages and granola bars to kids who somehow missed breakfast. Even $5 a month is just one more expense I cannot afford and I shouldn’t have to.

So I posted the issue in #sunchat and got several responses for alternative ways to help my students blog. In fact, the conversation went on for several minutes.

A little while later I found myself in another side convo about whether or not points should be deducted for late work, which was really a smaller issue of student motivation. That turned into a chat that lasted an hour beyond the #sunchat. One tweep suggested we should have had our own hashtag.

We disagreed with each other on a couple of points, but kept it civil and kept on discussing, sharing points of view and an occasional link to one authoritative article or another. Though we were not in agreement with each other, I found it to be one of the most stimulating conversations I’ve been in for a while. Seeing other points of view helped me to think through how I manage some of my classroom situations.

I can’t say enough about the value I find in communicating through social media with others who do what I do. I get inspiration, I get ideas, I get actual lesson plans and other materials, I get questions answered, I get laughs. It’s just a beautiful thing, and though I continue to preach it to my co-workers, I do not see them taking advantage the way that I do. I know they are missing out.

If I just keep sharing what I’m learning, how I’m learning and from whom I’m learning, if I just model the behavior that I know would work for others, maybe, just maybe some of them will pick up on it. Once they realize the vast network of helpful educators out there, they can’t help but join in.

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About teachjournalism
I am a high school teacher of journalism, technology and reading. I advise the school's newspaper and yearbook, both student-led publications. Documenting and sharing my experiences is a way of reflecting to improve my own work and and inviting commentary so that we might all benefit. I believe, as I tell my students each year, that we all learn from each other.

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