Over the last two years, I have read many blog posts, articles, and even some rants about unconnected educators. Why won’t they use social media? Don’t they know the benefits of being a connected learner?
I’ve seen Twitter debates about whether being connected can or should be equated with being better (more skilled, more of a learner, more of a growth mindset) than other educators. I have disagreed with some of this, but I have also participated in Connected Educator’s month and supported the movement to get more educators collaborating through social media. I support this effort because I have found a true, authentic purpose for my own professional learning through Twitter.
I have found that the best way to connect the unconnected is to engage them in social media purposefully. I am proud to say that I have helped a number of colleagues connect through Twitter, both at work and through my work at San Diego State University, with administrative credential candidates. What was successful was:
- Set up a safe space
- Model the use and purpose of the tool (in my case, Twitter)
- Provide support and 1:1 coaching as individuals try out the tool
- Offer encouragement (including responding to all tweets, publicly praising people, acknowledging the efforts)
- Create smaller communities to ease them in to a larger PLN (district hashtags and/or lists)
- Foster a growth mindset, as this is a learning journey for us all!
- Follow up – I tweet in front of work colleagues to continue to model the use of Twitter. I build in time for Twitter chats during collaboratives. I use more formal measures of accountability through university class assignments. I offer open lab sessions for Twitter tutorials. I share resources I’ve found on Twitter through other means with colleagues. I tweet directly to colleagues when I find relevant resources to share.
- Expand the world view of others through the use of social media. People need to find their own purpose, but they sometimes need to know what is possible.
- Use social media to celebrate successes, share resources, and challenge others to step outside of their comfort zone.
- Have fun!
I believe that people (whether young students or adult learners) will live up to your expectations. When you raise expectations, people rise to the challenge, and then will often surprise you by going even farther above and beyond. I am proud of my colleagues and my students who have stepped out of their comfort zone and have tried Twitter.
How are you or will you engage an unconnected educator in social media?