Professional development sessions are great, but often happen only once a month or once a quarter. How can you keep improving your use of technology in the classroom between sessions? For constant professional development, try harnessing the power of social media.
If that opening paragraph scared you, you’re not alone. The idea of social media for professional learning can be intimidating for some people. But take a step back and examine your computer use in your free time. Do you spend your time reading conversations on Reddit? Finding recipes on Pinterest? Sharing photos and status updates on Facebook? All those sites have active teacher communities. So start where you are!
While you’re on Facebook looking at your friend’s baby photos, spend 5 minutes searching for a group of teachers in your city, subject area, or grade level. Don’t be afraid to be a lurker at first. Follow the conversations and see how people interact. Then when you get more comfortable, join the conversation. You’ll find you’ll get a richer experience when you interact.
Another great option you may already use is Edmodo. In addition to communicating with students, Edmodo also is a great space for interacting with other teachers. Think about it, with all those educators in one place, of course they all start talking to each other!
To get started, check out Edmodo’s list of Teacher PD groups. Search the list to find one that interests you and request to join. If you’re looking for advice on a specific device or program, such as ClassDojo, search for the company’s publisher page. Many of them cultivate good communities, or at the very least provide a space to discuss with other teachers.
If you really want to expand your PD prowess, then it’s time to join Twitter. An executive at Twitter recently said that educators are an essential part of the network’s base. Anyone who hangs with teachers on Twitter already knew that! Twitter can be a busy place—let hashtags help you sort through all the information. (For those who don’t know, a hashtag is simply a keyword or phrase, no spaces, preceded by the # symbol.) Use hashtags to find educator chats and find people worth following.
Once you find a network of teachers, you’ll soon find that the information shared is invaluable to your teaching!