Monday, December 21, 2015

Stay Out of the Social Media Madness

"Stay out of the social media madness!"

That was a comment I received on a recent survey asking teachers for feedback on how I'm doing as building principal. I think it's always good to ask for feedback, but you have to be willing to accept the responses, whatever they are.

And every response is a great opportunity for reflection. It's a starting place for understanding. It makes me curious to know where individuals are coming from and how I can serve better. 

So how is my use, and promotion, of social media bumping into something for this person?

I'm not exactly sure. Maybe they only see the negatives of social media. Maybe they think I'm self-promoting. Or distracted. Or have my priorities out of line. Or maybe I've let this person down in some other area and this is just where it's directed?

It makes me wonder if I've fallen short in sharing the positives of social media? How it can be used to build community, discuss ideas, celebrate learning, and tell the story of our school. That there are new and different ways to use social media, ways that might be positive and productive.

So I am having an honest dialogue with myself, "Have there been negatives to my social media involvement?"


The answer is yes. There have been negatives. Social media does have pitfalls. I've felt it pull me too far in at times. There are dangers that must be avoided. Too much of a good thing can be a bad thing.

But I've worked on not letting it pull me in too far. I've set boundaries for my workflow. Family time is family time.

So for me, the positives far outweigh the negatives. I feel good about what I contribute and the connections I make using social media. I can be proud of that.

But I also realize Twitter won't work for everyone. Some people are turned off by social media and might better learn and connect in a different way. 

The feedback I received was valuable. Even if I don't change my approach to social media, the comment I received gives me insight. And it causes me to reexamine if social media is as beneficial as I believe it to be. It's good to reflect on feedback we receive, whether we agree with it or not.

5 Positive Ways To Use Social Media

1. The best free professional development I've encountered. It's available 24/7 and 365 days a year! Where else can you connect with people all over the world to learn and grow, to share ideas, and to get inspired? I've even chatted with some of my biggest heroes in education. Through these conversations, I learn new things. I develop shared meaning with others. That's true collaboration.

2. A platform to advocate for ideas that matter to me (personal voice). There are things that are important to me that I want to promote. I want to see better opportunities for students, stronger schools, and empowered teachers. That's why I share my thoughts on leadership, innovation, #FutureReady, #EdTech, and more.

3. A way to engage with our students, school, and community. I use social media to connect with our community through our school Facebook and Twitter. It's great to post pictures and highlight outstanding accomplishments. I like to share things from the classroom and from the extracurricular side. Go Liberators!

4. A platform to uplift, encourage, and celebrate. Just like in my face-to-face interactions, when I share positive words with others online, it lifts me up as well as others. I've found a positive community of dreamers, believers, and thinkers who challenge me and make me stronger.

5. An example for students of how social media can be used in positive and productive ways. Social media doesn't have to be shallow, vein, and a waste of time. We can use it to promote big ideas, to energize a cause, and to develop professionally. Right now, millions are using social media to network professionally, start a business, and build a personal brand. It's important for students to have digital literacy skills, now and for their future success.

Question: How are you using social media to improve your professional life? Leave a comment below or share on Twitter or Facebook.

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