The topic of #Satchat this week is being a connected educator, and we are continuing that discussion on the Voxer group. A very amusing, “You May Be a Connected Educator If…” discussion emerged spontaneously.
On Tuesday, I tried to formulate a thought that had been burning in my brain for some time, but wasn’t able to get it out. Thus, I will use my preferred medium (blogging) as a second attempt.
In this post, I will adopt the awesome format of my #satchatvoxer friends, and debunk common misconceptions about being a connected educator (spoiler alert: having a Twitter account doesn’t make you connected). I feel like I should put a disclaimer here, even though it should go without saying. These are simply my opinions, and I welcome any constructive conversation. Without further ado:
“You May Not Be a Connected Educator If…”
- …you have a social media account, but you haven’t signed on since you set it up.
A lot of people equate Twitter with being connected, but one must put in work. Simply having an account isn’t being connected.
Quick fix: This one is simple: start engaging! Check out CybraryMan‘s list of chats and educational hashtags. Also, Susan Bearden‘s Tweech Me app is a great way to learn about Twitter.
- …you have tons of followers, but you only engage with a tiny fraction of them.
Quick fix: Self-explanatory.
- …you treat people online as currency for your popularity, rather than as human beings.
Some people seemed to lose sight of the fact that other people on social media are…well…people. Following people, then unfollowing them once they follow back, in order to build follower count is rude and disrespectful. The unspoken message is, “you are only a number. Your ideas don’t matter.” I could go on, but you get the point.
Quick fix: This is also known as narcissism. There is no quick fix.
- …you aren’t open to hearing what strangers (i.e. fellow educators) have to say, unless everybody else is following them, too.
Social media is not middle school, but this behavior definitely is. Being connected doesn’t involve a popularity contest.
Quick fix: Create your own PLN, full of people that you value and connect with. Recommendations from others can definitely be helpful, but I personally wouldn’t base the bulk of my PLN on “Who to Follow” lists.
- …you use social media only to broadcast, without sharing the work/ideas of others.
Caveat: educators, please know that it is OKAY to share your ideas/your students’ ideas/ your school’s ideas online. This is all part of building your brand, and it can be a very positive thing. The point of this isn’t to discourage anyone from sharing…quite the contrary. Share MORE. Share everything that interests you, as it will likely interest someone else. Just don’t forget to share the work of others, too!
Quick fix: Check out awesome curation resources (such as Zite), which bring you great blog posts and articles on topics based on your interests. You can even auto-schedule tweets throughout the day with resources such as Buffer (thanks to Shelly Sanchez Terrell for putting me onto it).
“Connected” is the operative word. Just like you stick a plug into a wall socket, connections go two ways. Sometimes we are the sockets, providing the energy; sometimes we are the plugs receiving it. In my eyes, there is a huge difference between being an educator who uses social media and a “connected educator.” Huge shout out to Brad, Billy, and Scott for putting this discussion back on the radar.