A few months ago, I entered the blogging world. It was a world I knew absolutely NOTHING about, but I decided that blogging, Facebook, and Twitter were going to need to be a part of my vocabulary soon if I wanted to be a part of the twenty-first century!
When I began blogging, I entered the world bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, with a good arsenal of skills I had learned from the amazing Charity Preston’s Teaching Blog Traffic School. I expected to be behind the game for a while, and anticipated finding some great middle and high school bloggers out there who would be willing to collaborate and share ideas. I fully expected to gain hundreds of eager middle and high school English teacher followers in a few months, clamoring to read my articles and buy my products. How wrong I was.
First…what blogging world? Venturing out into this unknown I found a bustling, welcoming, and exciting world….of primary grade bloggers. I learned all about read-alouds and Daily 5 and printables and clip art…but where, oh where, were middle and high school teachers? I searched diligently for weeks to find bloggers who shared ideas and collaborated on the middle and high school levels. I found a few, and those people remain very good friends to this day (and I will be sharing links from those amazing teacher bloggers in the future), but we are all in the same lonely boat–feeling like our ideas and tips are being lost in cyber space, and like we are talking to a room of tumbleweeds.
So, as I mentioned in a previous post, I have made it my New Year’s Resolution to open up the blogging world to the eyes and ears of those who for whatever reason (and I am still researching those reasons) are not aware of or (gasp!) who are not interested in the world of teacher blogging.
So here are my TOP EIGHT REASONS TEACHERS SHOULD BE JOINING THE SOCIAL WORLD!
8. Twitter. We all have heard about it, but did you know that there are special chat times for teachers to get together to chat about certain subjects? I didn’t when I first started this all. Cybraryman’s Internet Catalog is a database of chat times for educators from all subject areas and disciplines. For example, some of the chats that I have participated in are #edchat and #engchat. Just login to Twitter during those times, search for the hasthag, and join in. In order to add your comment, be sure to add the same hashtag in your tweet. Warning, Twitter chats can move EXTREMELY fast, depending upon the subject, so you may want to sit back and watch a few times. It is interesting to see the different points of views of educators, principals, librarians, policy makers, etc. all gathering to discuss a particular subject.
7. The blogging world has changed! I touched upon this before, but the blogging world is a different animal now. Teachers are not only selling their own classroom-tested products through TeachersPayTeachers and such sites, they are also blogging about ideas, tips, tricks, and more. Teachers are putting their ideas out there for others to see. While you can certainly find the dry, policy-oriented rhetoric of the movers and shakers of education, and the private classroom of a class blog sharing on the topic of Macbeth, there are now blogs out there that invite you to share, connect, and collaborate with other teachers. We’re not talking forums here, where a lesson or two has been shared. We are talking about teachers who are spending hours putting together a lesson to share with their followers! Teachers who are blogging about their victories and failures in the classroom. Teachers who are sharing organizational tips, grading tips, best practices, hands-on “How Tos”, and more. Gone are the days when blogs mean long-winded, pithy (read: boring!) commentaries on broad-spectrum teaching issues or merely a portal for a teacher’s classes to share their daily observations on photosynthesis and plant growth…the world is full of so much more! Today’s teacher-blogger is opening up their classroom, creativity, ideas and hearts to other teachers.
6. Links to fabulous teacher-created material. Teachers are now making what they have been creating for their own classrooms available for other teachers – both for free and for a fee. The common consensus seems to be that once you find a great teacher-author out there…you have struck GOLD! Everyone knows that the best material comes from teachers themselves…those who work in the trenches. Those who have used the materials in their own classroom and know what works and what doesn’t. Teacher bloggers are now sharing these ideas and products through social media (i.e. blogs and Facebook). Teachers are not only sharing these products, but teaching you how to use them, discussing what works and what doesn’t with other teachers… in real time. Additionally, collaborative blogs stream product, after freebie, after tip, after article! Check out The Lesson Cloud, Teaching Blog Central, or Teaching Blog Addict.
5. Pinterest. If you have not heard of Pinterest, you might want to lift the rock a little to get some sun Pinterest is the new craze, and educators have taken over. In fact, due to popular request the added an “education” category about a month ago and it is one of the fastest growing categories. Pinterest is a visual smorgasbord of ideas from teachers of all backgrounds. Teachers are “pinning” everything from favorite recipes, to inspirational quotes, to gift ideas, to classroom organization ideas, to actual lesson plans and teaching materials to their boards. These boards can be followed, like following a page on Facebook. Each time a board that you follow is pinned, you see what that person has pinned. If you like it, you can “like” it, or repin to one of your boards. The more people you follow, the more ideas you can gather!
4. Camaraderie, Collaboration, Inspiration, Support, and Fun! When I asked a few blogging buddies why teachers should be a part of the social world, they resoundingly responded that social networking has opened up a new realm of support, collaboration, and inspiration for them. It is through blogging and networking with others that we gain support and find inspiration where we may have had none. Teachers are making it clear that through social networking, they are actually becoming better teachers. How is that for combating burnout? Doesn’t it make sense? We can all learn and grow from each other, and isn’t it more fun to collaborate and support each other than to sit alone grading papers?
3. Which brings me to Facebook. Talk about “real time.” Did you know that there are a ton of sites on Facebook dedicated to helping teachers find fabulous products, tips, ideas, lessons, and FREEBIES? (more about freebies later) Some of my favorites include The Organized Classroom Blog, Surviving a Teacher’s Salary, Teaching Resources, Lesson Plan Diva Teaching Resources, and Cooperative Learning 365. These pages are run by real people who have real conversations. They answer your questions, help you find resources, and motivate you to be a better teacher by sharing ideas, tips, tricks, and fabulous products. On these blogs you can engage with other teachers, have a conversation in real time, and learn from each other. Having trouble finding a lesson on figurative language? Post it to one of these pages, and you are sure to get a ton of ideas! Sure, you can still follow some of the biggies such as Scholastic Teachers, which offer great ideas, but the “Mom and Pop” type pages are taking over…in a good way! Facebook has become a professional online learning community like no other.
2. Giveaways. Did you know that bloggers and Facebookers are constantly running giveaways? We all want your attention, and we are willing to give things away in order to get that attention. I have seen giveaways for free products, gift baskets, subscriptions to services, gift cards to Amazon and Barnes and Noble, and a ton more. We also so appreciate having an audience rather than talking to an empty room, so we are willing to show you how much we appreciate it. I recently hit 500 followers on Facebook, and to celebrate I gave away nearly 30 free products that were donated by TeachersPayTeachers teacher-authors. Just there…free for the taking! (Which you can still grab HERE!)
1. Finally, in the #1 spot…FREEBIES! Everyone loves getting things for free, and teacher bloggers love to give things away! Not only are there entire blogs dedicated to freebies only, like Classroom Freebies that spew amazing teacher-created freebies, but every single teacher blogger out there gives away a ton for free! (See my Free Resources page) All you have to do is read the blog post (by following on Google reader or a similar reader) or follow on Facebook! Freebies are literally everywhere you turn in the blogging world…you just have to keep your eyes open and be willing to give the world of social networking a try.
Social networking has truly opened up a new world for me. I have never considered myself a social person…in fact, I am quite the homebody. By allowing myself to engage with others in the online world I have met so many gifted, talented, and inspirational people who I have learned so much from professionally and personally. It has truly become my professional learning community, especially now that I am no longer in the classroom.
I truly can’t wait to meet anyone else who would like to join us–especially those middle and high school teachers out there–now you know what you’re missing!
Thanks for stopping by,