What is THE most impactful thing you can do in your career as an educator? Hattie would argue it is forging trusting relationships with your students, Phillips says modelling curiosity while Marzano states the importance of teachers receiving feedback. Having scanned multiple meta-analysis’s covering thousands of studies and years of research, I can confidently conclude that no study has found the words of Elani Leoni to be true – that (Social Media) is the most impactful thing you can do in your career as an educator.
To me, the over-embellishment of statements like this (and she is not the only one) backfires. Like many, I was ‘told’ that ‘I had to’ be using Twitter at a conference years ago, how ‘all effective teachers have a PLN’ and of the classic presenters story of ‘I asked a question and had replies from around the world in minutes’. As a young, new teacher I jumped at this advice, but when I realised having a face-to-face conversation with a teaching friend from another school answered questions I did not even know I had, and that the sky did not fall in after not logging into Twitter for a week, I gave up for many years….
I believe the benefits of teachers using Social Media are positive, but are so over exagerated that teachers are both overwhelmed as to where to start to enable a question on any topic at any time to be answered – and underwhelmed at the lack of any rate-of-return for the time investment involved, that they either never begin or quickly give up.
An example of the classic Twitter advocate is Brian Crosby, who boasts that questions he posts are responded to within 5 minutes and advocates for all teachers to use Social Media. The problem is people like Brian Crosby do not support others. I can state this categorically as he, like many others, only follows a small percentage of the people that follow him.
This brings me back to my own experience with using Social Media in my professional practice.
Years after being introduced to Twitter, I started using it. Why? My expectations were lowered, to the reality of where Social Media is effective for 90% of teachers who want to casually use it. Twitter is great for specific searches (Chrome 5.001433 error), time-relative searches (Matariki activities happening right now) connecting with companies and organisations (tweeting problems that are not answered via email), Twitter chats (such as EdChatNZ), and reaching out to people you have connections with (that guy you sat next to at a conference once). Once I understood this, and that people who get the ‘5 minute replies’ are either “rockstars” or have invested years of their waking life interacting with people online to reach a critical mass of followers, I found Twitter to be beneficial to my teaching practice.
I just wish people played down the expectations. #overrated
Killian, Shaun. Teacher Credibility: Why It Matters & How To Build It
January 30, 2017. http://www.evidencebasedteaching.org.au/teacher-credibility/
Leoni, Elana. Ten Tips for Becoming a Connected Educator https://www.edutopia.org/blog/10-tips-become-connected-educator-elana-leoni
Marzano, R. J., & Toth, M. D. (2013). Teacher evaluation that makes a difference. Retrieved from http://ebookcentral.proquest.com
Phillips, Patrick. This Is the Most Important Thing a Teacher Can Do http://www.huffingtonpost.com/quora/this-is-the-most-importan_b_12542656.html