The Teaching Profession Faces Facebook

Most teachers enjoy learning themselves and as the world of technology has progressed so has the use of technology both in and out of the classroom. Whether for exploring better teaching strategies, communicating with parents, or general professional development, Facebook has become a valuable tool for teachers.
Facebook has created a whole new method of professional development for teachers. Generally executed in a formal learning setting with “expert” speakers providing workshops or lectures on state or district mandated topics, professional development has helped teachers learn new strategies for the teaching of specific curriculum areas or the methods for dealing with students according to the current hot topics in education such as bullying and school anxiety. Many educators finish their “professional development” day having gained little more than a few hours out of the classroom and perhaps having had a chance to share some of their triumphs or frustrations with a few of their colleagues.  By posting queries to other educators about curriculum, educational concepts, learning characteristics and beyond through Facebook teacher groups, many educators are gaining valuable insights and teaching strategies in real-time on how to make their lessons more creative, engaging, interactive or even just plain fun.
The advantages to this type of informal professional development are tremendous. Facebook teacher groups are free and user friendly. Educators are able to pursue the type of knowledge they are interested in/need and therefore are more motivated to actually incorporate or make or make use of the information. The ability to request information anonymously can encourage novice or even experienced teachers to make queries they might feel intimidated to make in the teachers’ room. Since they are able to contact colleagues at a time and place convenient to them, educators no longer have to wait for the professional development day to aid them in their quest to be better teachers. They literally have the “world” of teachers at their fingertips.
Teachers of older students have made use of Facebook to communicate with their students about assignments, special projects or trips. This particular use of technology in the classroom has been a boon to districts facing temporary closures due to weather conditions or epidemics.  Recently teachers have discovered that Facebook is an excellent medium with which to communicate with parents as well. Making use of ‘Status Update’, teachers can post daily a brief summary of classroom activities, projects, notice of parent teacher conferences or other activities the used to be relegated to the “note home”.  The advantage to this form of parent/teacher communication is tremendous as many of these parents make use of Facebook anyway and it is not necessary to rely on the student to deliver the note. In addition, photographs, short videos and samples of the students’ creativity can also be posted so that the parents have an opportunity to really “see” what is going on in the classroom.  Some teachers have even made use of the daily posts as a chance for students to practice good writing skills by including them in the process of creating the post.
It is recommended that for this type of social networking, educators set up a dedicated, professional Facebook profile or Page. This has many advantages. When a teacher is working from their professional account, they will more easily be able to stay focused on the information they are trying to disseminate or acquire.  It goes without saying that all communication should be done with appropriate language and care should be taken not to use the teacher to teacher forum as a means to speak negatively about other teachers, administrators or curriculum materials.
Facebook is an excellent, efficient, and free method for parent and student communication, professional development and collaboration of teaching strategies. School districts and teachers’ unions would be wise to encourage and help facilitate their staff to join or create a Facebook Page for their teachers and classrooms. By generating greater teacher/student/parent interaction, everyone benefits.

2 Responses to The Teaching Profession Faces Facebook

  1. Marcela says:

    It is a very good topic for discussing about. I agree facebook has become a great communication channel for different purposes. It can be used for our professional benefit or for communicating with parents and students so as to keep them well informed about their children’s activities. However, if it is not taken seriously, it may become a dangerous weapon.

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