Pamela Fong is a research associate at WestEd, who supports part of the Teacher Practice Network (TPN) work that APSRC is doing to support teacher leaders. She recently asked TPN Leader Suzanne Rogers some questions about her use of social media. Suzanne’s answers will be spotlighted in a future edition of WestEd’s bi-monthly TPN Update, a digest of current events and information related to teacher leaders. Congratulations, Suzanne!
1. How have you gained such a large social media following of 3,259 on Twitter and elsewhere?
I've been on Twitter since 2009. In the early years, it was very easy to find a small group of people and ask questions. I love the explosion of social media. As George Couros eloquently said, "Isolation is a choice." Teachers who wish to be validated, who wish to express their voice, who wish to find resources simply must choose to use social media. I have tried various tools including lists and services to help me grow my followers. There is a magical number. Often, teachers follow more than they have followers. This is kind of like being upside down in a car loan. We do need to unfollow people who do not follow back. Try to keep your follow number less than the followers number so that you can continue to grow. Some people advocate following 5 new teachers each day. For teachers, 5-10 per week is doable
I use Facebook primarily for family and teacher friends from other states. As a military wife and teacher my friends have scattered to the four corners. I follow groups on Facebook like our @tpnlead group. When I find ideas on Facebook that I want to share, I open it in a new browser and share directly from the browser.
2. What kind of responses do you receive from teachers who appreciate learning about ideas from you via social media?
Teachers on Twitter tend to like, follow, and send private messages if they are interested in what I am posting. I find that many of my Tweets end up on Paperli or other newsletters that are shared.
3. Do you have strategies for how to leverage Twitter or your blog as helpful channels for sharing quality, CCSS-aligned instructional resources?
Twitter is a fast and easy way to share professional development with a #LISAPD hashtag. I also use the @tpnlead account to share. Since our state has recently changed our standards, I still share CCSSish resources. For example, I have shared our Quizlets for all of our ELA vocabulary in grades 6-12. This will help any teacher who is using Pearson Literature Common Core 2015. It is easy to Tweet these types of resources. I also like to share resources that come directly to me such as free webinars for professional development. I'll tweet using our #LISAPD and explain that it is free. I used to use the #CCSS hashtag, but find not many are using it as much anymore. My blog tends to be for things that require a longer response than 140 characters. I have linked most of my accounts using IFTTT My most recent recipe set up a Pinterest board for my education Instagram Posts. So, teachers can find my posts across a variety of platforms. I use Linkedin to crosspost my blog and to reach a different audience.
Voxer is another way to communicate with educators by voice and text. The downside of Voxer is that the groups are private and you need to be approved to join. I've joined #ARED, #engagechat, and #BFC.
4. Other teacher leaders tell us they struggle with finding an audience or maintaining an active Twitter account focused on sharing practices. What advice do you have for them?
Breathe! It takes time to develop an audience. Follow top educators in your state. Then branch out and follow other educators. Here is one list
5. Anything else you'd like for us to know about you and your amazing online success?
It takes time, but it is worth your time to develop contacts outside of your school. This is especially true for learning more about diversity #educolor. Most teachers use Twitter, but not in an educational sense. I will be facilitating a session on Twitter for pre-service millennials in November. We do have PD bytes that I am happy to share and a couple of presentations on Twitter. I've found that we need to differentiate how we facilitate these sessions. Some teachers don't know what social media is and some use it, but not at all in an appropriate way for a teacher. Teachers are never too old to begin to use social media to learn and to grow.
Contact: Suzanne Rogers firstname.lastname@example.org
Author -- Teacher Practice Network
We are a cadre of teachers from Arkansas and Oklahoma brought together through APSRC and a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation to empower teachers to find their own voice both in and out of the classroom.