Educating Teachers through Social Media

The issue

Often, teachers feel as though they are on an island, not knowing what their colleagues are doing in the neighboring classroom.  Educators attend state and national conferences learning research and theoretical practice; however, leave feeling unsure how to implement these strategies with their students. Parents and families express the need to see classroom activities and instruction to better understand what their child is learning and how they can provide support. At the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind (FSDB), we created exemplary models of instruction for ongoing professional development for teachers and parents. Simultaneously, we are supporting implementation of strategies and providing a platform for internal and external stakeholders to glimpse into our classrooms; fostering positive relationships with our school.

What we know:

FSDB Pineapple Professional Development (PD) is a learning community and PD resource for educators teaching students with sensory disabilities. The platform reaches not only those on at FSDB but also educators all over the world.  Our goal is for other schools to produce similar PD videos to share and create a national learning network. Having a social network, comprised of PD videos, will enable teachers to globally share glimpses into their classrooms.

Educators, families, and stakeholders have access to 3-15-minute-long exemplar videos explaining new strategies, best practices, or instructional tools. The content is broken up into four different learning categories: Pineapple PD (3-5-minute glimpse of classroom instruction), Slice of PD (series of 4 videos on the same topic) Pineapple PD Tidbit (three pictures with a description to learn about a new tool or strategies), and Pineapple University (15-minute video of in-depth description of a concept).

FSDB Pineapple PD lives on the FSDB Learning Network website (learningnetwork.fsdbk12.org) and Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter. The free platforms allow educators to quickly view a model of a strategy, tool, or best practice happening in classrooms at FSDB. The glimpse into the classrooms breaks down the barriers that create isolation among the teachers, as well as, provides a “welcome-mat” to our stakeholders. Educators have the opportunity to learn from FSDB content experts without leaving their homes or spending money.

What we don’t know

Social media platforms are being used for many purposes.  We don’t know how these platforms are being used by teachers or how effective they are for PD.  Also, parents and educators are accessing the Pineapple PD resources but we don’t know if the resources are having an influence on student learning outside of FSDB.

Implications

Systemic implementation.  With all the changes occurring in education today (new initiatives, increased expectations, and robust accountability), teachers need clear direction and models for effective implementation.  Administrators recognize the need to provide support to teachers and instructional staff to ensure systemic implementation of instructional strategies at their schools. Systemic change requires that a school’s strategic goals for improvement and initiatives are nurtured and monitored at the classroom level.  As a result, changes mentioned previously become part of the school’s culture and way of work.  By providing educators with the opportunity to network with their peers, highly effective teachers are able to model instructional strategies and systemic instructional practices can be sustained long-term.

Social Media. Social Networking Sites are used by billions all over the world to view trending news, connect with friends and family, and to watch cute cat videos.  The platforms are free for users to access and follow areas of high interests. In the recent years, social media has become a space used for professional purposes and serves as a collaboration tool. The desire to develop professional learning communities, educators who meet regularly to study best practices in teaching and learning, has encouraged teachers to join various Facebook groups or participate in Twitter chats. Educators can learn new resources, strategies, and best practices to implement into their classroom and connect with educators in their field.

When families and stakeholders support schools. Stakeholder, family, and school relationships are fundamental for the success of the students. Strong relationships increase student motivation and engagement, foster teacher and parent communication, and develop a sense of pride in the success of the school.  These strong relationships can be fostered through a shared understanding of the school’s vision and mission, the opportunity for stakeholders to develop an interest in the performance of the school and its students, and by giving a glimpse into your school’s classrooms by laying out the welcome-mat.

Posted on April 18, 2019 by
Tracie Snow
SnowT {at} fsdbk12.org

Randi Mitchell
MitchellR {at} fsdbk12.org
FSDB Learning Network

 

Further reading