If you’re a teacher and a reader of Edudemic, you’re a hip cat. But what about those teachers and other educators who DON’T read Edudemic? Believe it or not, there are some out there. This post is for them.
In an effort to keep all teachers pursuing the best possible ways to integrate education and technology, we thought it might be good to take another look at ways teachers can be hip. By ‘hip’ I simply mean that a teacher is aware of trends and actively engaging to stay on top of what his or her students need. From cutting-edge education technology to simply being aware of new Apple products, it’s important for teachers to be hip.
1. Embrace Twitter
Twitter is the de facto place for education professionals and students to easily meet, interact, and exchange ideas online. As is evident by the prominence of #edchat amongst teaching circles and PLNs, Twitter isn’t going away anytime soon. In fact, it’s becoming one of the easiest ways to reach fellow teachers who may be able to help you decide which lesson to teach tomorrow.
For example, you may have been excited to teach your students about why the sky is blue and your fellow tweeting teachers may point out that Gizmodo recently posted about this very topic and they have a concise description of why the sky is blue. Want to get more ideas about how to teach why the sky is blue? Simply type the following tweet: “Need help teaching ‘why the sky is blue’ can you help? #edchat #edtech” and you’ll be amazed at how quickly your fellow teachers jump in to help out.
Did you notice those hashtags at the end of that example tweet? If you don’t know what they are (or are just in need of a Twitter refresher course) then check out our “Ultimate Twitter Guide For Teachers”
2. Get A Personal Learning Network (PLN)
No matter when you started as a teacher, you likely had a mentor and a few friendly teachers help you out. Thanks to social media and the Internet, it’s extremely easy to have an exponentially larger personal learning network (PLN). Nowadays, communication tools like Twitter have allowed teachers to converse, exchange best practices, and even make friends with people around the globe.
In this 4 and 1/2 minute video, Paul Hill walks you through how to harness Twitter for building the best Personal Learning Network. Paul walks you through how to find fellow educators, gain their attention, and also how to pick out the best ideas on a regular basis.
Couple this with our Ultimate Twitter Guidebook for Teachers and you’re on your way to becoming the next Ashton Kutcher of teachers.
The video is a bit quiet as Paul speaks in a slight whisper.
3. Understand Boundaries
There may be a boatload of new technology that’s free and easy to use but what about privacy concerns? Privacy is not just something adults worry about. It’s becoming a big part of every Facebook user’s vocabulary and it’s not going away anytime soon. Teachers need to understand when it is and is not okay to contact a student.
A decade ago, teachers would only contact students and their families maybe once or twice a year while they were at home. I remember when an English teacher called my house over a book report I had poorly written. I was terrified and even a bit creeped out that a teacher knew where I lived. Granted I was in third grade and was still shocked to see teachers in the supermarket, but the memory is still with me today.
It’s never been easier to harass students. Don’t do it. From Twitter to starting a Ning site for your class, it’s important to only interact with students over official and monitored channels. That means you should not contact students via Twitter Direct Message, Facebook Messaging, Text Messaging, or other closed communication channel. Need a few more pointers? Check out our article on ‘Should You Text Your Students?‘ for some helpful statistics.
In and out of the classroom, it’s important to take chances and be innovative. Try that more difficult lesson, have your students undertake difficult tasks, do a lesson that’s never been done before. If you take a chance and are successful, you should share your newly discovered lesson with your PLN, on Twitter, and elsewhere.
Chances are good someone will notice your terrific lesson and feature it on a popular website, leading to speaking engagements, more Twitter followers, and eventually you’ll be the best teacher ever. Okay maybe none of those things will come true but at least social media is a new communication channel where there’s a good chance someone will appreciate your hard work.
Don’t experiment with how you interact with people online. You don’t want to suck at Facebook or be banned from the Web 2.0 Ning community for not contributing anything worthwhile. You’ll probably want to check out Every Teacher’s Must-Have Guide To Facebook and the Ultimate Guide to Social Media too.
5. Get Creative
There is a vast array of online resources just waiting for you to see. The attention span of students has never been shorter so it’s important to find these resources and figure out how to incorporate them into your classroom. Examples of resources include helpful videos, infographics, live web conferencing and other goodies found here. Need 1,001 more examples? Check out our helpful list and enjoy. It may take you an entire summer to get through the list though.
6. Innovate With Top-Notch Software
If you’re looking to show off just how tech-savvy and hip you are, look no further than premium software. There are tons of free apps and tools out there but in order to create the best-looking and most functional teaching tools, you’ll need premium software.
Lucky for you, Adobe has a kick-butt new offering in the form of the Adobe Digital School Collection (ADSC). It gives you the ability to create high-end documents, movies, podcasts, and images. That’s all thanks to Adobe Premiere Elements, Photoshop Elements, and Adobe Acrobat Pro. With those three tools, you’re ready to show off just how hip you really are.
What Helped You?
What helped you when you were a new teacher? Let us know by mentioning @edudemic on Twitter or by leaving a comment. Thanks!
-Thumbnail image courtesy The Telegraph UK ‘School of Rock’ with Jack Black