Maintaining professionalism as an educator now demands 24-hour attention, as the professionalism demanded now includes the online worlds that many habituate.
Whether publishing resources online, partaking in social media conversations, or offering advice within forums all now require a level of professionalism, as the audiences intended can sometimes be different than initially considered.
Following the online poll, this #UKEdChat session explored the professional considerations teachers need to explore when comments or posting online. In particular, the session asked:
- What are the advantages of putting oneself publicly online as a professional?
- What are the disadvantages?
- What are the best platforms for educators to interact online?
- How can schools support teachers building a professional presence online?
- What are the best strategies for building an online professional following, and the best ideas for the camera shy?
- Finally, what is the best advice for teaching professionals to ‘do it right’ online?
Making public announcements and statements is easy for anyone in society, so long as they have access to a SmartPhone device or computer, it is simple to share your thoughts, life and dramas. For many, this is not too much of a problem, possibly because they don’t post anything controversial, or hold strong opinions one way or another. Yet considerations need to be given as to who the intended audiences are for such thoughts and considerations posted, along with the murkier non-intended audiences who may be lurking in the background ready to seize upon any infringement to paranoid policies, hiding behind the insecurities of business or school interests. It happens! So, with the bleak picture duly painted, there are some advantages to posting on social media platforms, otherwise people wouldn’t!
From a teaching perspective, entering discussions on social media can open up a wide range of opportunities and is excellent Continuous Professional Development (CPD). Also, it’s all about sharing and receiving Ideas that can be used and adapted for teaching, helping you reflect and think about what your values are/where your interests lie/what is important to you as a teacher. Fundamentally, connectivity with fellow educators is a main draw for teachers, who you might not otherwise have met and who offer differing perspectives, thus challenge your thinking culminating in personal growth and developing a professional network to promote such growth and collaboration.
On the flip side, social media platforms can also offer dangers and you can open yourself up to a lot of criticism from certain quarters if not managed carefully. Opening up in any public forum, one opens up to ridicule, strong opposing views and aggression to varying degrees, and even the most seemingly benign comment can be misinterpreted – Intonation gets lost. People can take your message totally the wrong way and use your content as fodder. Monitoring of social media from Senior Leadership Teams (SLT) seems to be common these days. Perhaps they might learn something from Twitter while doing it. One teacher shared that she was told to delete her blog…. or face consequences!!
Open-mindedness and respect is needed. Above all else, not believing your own hype. Stay grounded.
With regards to the best platforms for maintaining your professional status, Twitter (unsurprisingly) came out top as there are so many educational professionals to interact with! However, Facebook also offers opportunities to create groups, whether with colleagues, parents, students etc. allowing you to focus on a certain field of interest. YouTube also allows for professionals to place pedagogical videos for colleagues or students but, it was argued, Twitter has a very low threshold, and is accessible for everyone.
Working in schools can open professionals up to being followed, stalked or approached on Social Media by students, their parents, the leadership team, or colleagues. With this in mind, there needs to be a designated person at work who deals with it and provides specific training. Additionally, it was suggested, by identifying those who already have an online presence and getting them to ‘sell’ the idea to others, “What benefits have there been?” is also a strategy that could showcase online learning for professionals in a positive light.
Furthermore, building a positive online network takes time, patience and careful consideration. A strong network doesn’t build itself within a couple of months. Getting involved in some social media chats, contributing something online that people are interested in or can use. This will encourage others to follow you back, engage in conversation and also inspire others to use your ideas with their students. When you’re on twitter, you see amazing teachers sharing their work and it invites you to do the same. It is encouraged to be honest, take part in discussion with own opinions and share examples of good practice – your own or others work.
To conclude, engage in discourse, don’t just lurk, express your views, share your experiences, listen, be polite, be authentic & professional.
Summary compiled by @digicoled
Archive, Download -> Session 359 Online Professionalism