I need to start by saying that I used to be TOTALLY against social media in the classroom. * It just seemed like a lot of work, to learn, to set up, to maintain, to gain permission from parents, to find something effective…clearly I could go on. Then when I moved to my previous school, we had the task of sending parent emails every day. This was arduous at first but I grew to like it as, with these emails I knew parents were always kept up to date with their child’s education, therefore, they were be able to support them and also, there was never an opportunity for parents to be surprised with report cards or anything (and if they were, it was because they didn’t keep up). After two years of emails, I felt like I could start branching out, I saw a lot of teachers doing things like twitter with their class or blogs. Perhaps a website isn’t considered social media but that is what I did last year and that felt like a huge step for me. This year, I took an even bigger jump and started a Seesaw account with my students. That is largely what I will base my social media in the classroom experiences on for this blog post. Whether or not it counts as social media…I am not sure but I am saying yes.
*Image courtesy of imoji. And that girl is how I pictured myself saying no to social media in the classroom several years ago.
Now, I have to say, it was still enough work for me to learn Seesaw on my own, to set up, and I spent enough time wording my parent permission forms in order to try and sway them all to agree to using it. So I guess my initial reservations proved true. I do not consider myself a lazy teacher but I also think it’s important that we as teachers are conscious of the extra time we put in (teacher burnout is REAL). I digress. I teach Grade One, so we are still learning how to use it. I will admit, even with all my Friday night and Saturday afternoon practicing that there were a couple “oh wait it’s not that button we press, oops” while I was trying to show them how to use it. I am trying to be more patient and open about using class time to show students how to use it, but I do find myself frustrated at times that we have already spent a good 1.5 hours learning what Seesaw is, why we keep in touch with our parents, practicing loading things on our profiles, talking about being good digital citizens and that we still don’t have the procedures down. I am not saying I am at all surprised that we aren’t there yet, I am just really hoping to see the positive benefits of my version of social media in the class.
All of my students and I signed this pledge. Image courtesy of Seesaw.
Now that I have been teaching for a while and have really changed my teaching style, I can definitely see the positive benefits of social media in the classroom. A huge portion of my program is parental involvement, and not the kind where they are in my classroom doing my job, in my space, more that they are informed, that they are able to support their child to succeed in Grade One and that parents can learn what my philosophies of early childhood education are. Of course, I think the main drawback that would come to mind when one is discussing social media in the classroom is crazy people finding children or, if parents and teachers are not carefully monitoring, poor internet behaviour among youth. I do not deal with older children so, though I have many opinions, I will not discuss that one. I will touch on the crazy people though, my current philosophy is that we, as teachers, just need to be careful how we present the information online:
-do we link pictures with names?
-do we say exactly where our school is located?
-do we make our communication tool searchable and open?
To give myself and parents peace of mind, I have done none of these. I know many of the fears presented by parents and teachers are largely magnified and unnecessary however I figure why not be proactive? So far, I have had no flack from parents or administration. And I am able to sleep at night.
Anyway, back to the positive benefits of social media. For the primary grades, I think it is so important to give children pride in themselves, in their abilities and accomplishments, so I am always trying to install these values in my students. With Seesaw this year, I am hoping to use for both myself and children communicating with their families, giving children the opportunity to show off their hard work and for parents to pump their children up with everyday activities (once students are able to use it independently ha ha).
Here my student said a short message (but this is just a screenshot) of what she did in her work. They are all still a bit shy with narrating.
I am really excited to use my version of social media in the classroom this year, I think if we all (myself, parents and students) keep up with it, it has the potential to be very beneficial for students, families and myself. And I must say I am so proud of myself for figuring and trying it out!