Sunday, March 15, 2015

Combating Teacher Zombies

I read a great post by fellow educator Ron Dorland last week, Twitter: The Heartbeat of Education. Any educator I know who has braved social media and connected on Twitter would agree.  Twitter is an amazing tool for getting enthusiastic, generous teacher to share ideas and try new things.  I overlooked Twitter for far too long; I told myself I didn’t have time for one more thing.  Now, a year after I really started engaging on Twitter and building my personalized learning network (or PLN), I tell every teacher I know that I don’t have time NOT to be on Twitter.  Twitter is THE venue for the most passionate, student-centered, risk-taking educators to share, learn, and grow.  

Ron’s post made me reflect on all the ideas and energy I gain daily through my PLN, but it also made me ask why I don’t always feel this same passion and energy from my colleagues. Sure, some days are better than others; some days we share more, engage each other and our students more. But some days we enter the building like tired teacher zombies, heads down and shuffling along. What can I do, as a teacher-leader and future administrator, to help combat this beaten down, defeated attitude?

First, all educators need to realize that we mainly share our success stories through any social media like Twitter. We usually share our most engaging activities and lessons, brag a little about our best student questions, and offer those failed moments only when we have fully learned from them. In a single building, teachers see each other day in and day out, through the good moments and the ugly. It is all too easy to slip into zombie-mode! We need to be committed to broadcasting our successes to each other-in person-the way we do on social media. If we don’t celebrate the good times, no one will know beyond our walls.

Also, we connected educators need to encourage and support the rest of our colleagues to become more connected.  We must spread the word of the power of social media to form connections, transform our teaching, and increase our passion for education. Take a few minutes to show someone how to get started with Twitter, suggest a few hashtags to follow, maybe even pull up your Tweetdeck to show a colleague all the fabulous ideas coming to you in that moment! Not only will you help spread your own enthusiasm, but you might ignite that enthusiasm in a fellow teacher and help prevent that aforementioned zombie shuffle!

I am doing my part to engage my fellow teachers. I recently introduced several teachers to Twitter at an after school Tech Tuesday, including how to use Tweetdeck to manage the barrage of information headed their way now that they have been brave enough to connect themselves. I am also planning a voluntary book study of Dave Burgess’s Teach Like a PIRATE ( the “P” and “E” in PIRATE stand for passion and enthusiasm; just the thing to combat teacher zombies) in the coming weeks, where participants will engage in 15 minute Twitter Spark chats as one means of discussion. Hopefully, I can encourage them to share the wonderful ideas I know they are going to have beyond our study group and tweet them out to engage with other educators around the world.

Finally, if social media can ignite passion in teachers, imagine what it can do for our students!  Stay tuned for more thoughts about social media in the classroom soon!