Social Media is now very much part of everyday life. Getting the most out of Social Media is something that I have been thinking about for a number of weeks. In this blog I want to share some of my thoughts and ideas on how teachers can get the most out of the platforms that they use.
The Positives of Social Media
No matter what platform, the positive thing about social media is that you get to see what others are doing and share what you are doing. I completely appreciate that I am stating the obvious. But it is good to remember this positive because we often forget how great that is. Make sure that your follow like minded people doing the same job as you. Don’t just expect followers, follow back and engage with others.
The other positive is that it helps us to feel part of a bigger network – and with that comes support. When you follow others and look at what they do you are uniting with them and building community. This is so valuable for teachers and it is a great way to get to know others and seek/give support.
The Negatives of Social Media
I think the negative thing about Social Media is the whole area of comparison. If we see something online we can all too often allow ourselves to get rather down in the dumps if we aren’t doing something similar. This was the case during lockdown where some schools were able to do things that others work. I would often look at amazing virtual choir videos on social media and get a bit fed up that I hadn’t done it.
The other big negative is criticism or hostile comments from others. It is something I am seeing more and more, and I will touch on it more in a moment. But we have to remember that what we share is public and will therefore get a response, which could be positive. We need to be resilient and remember that what we write may have an impact on someone else.
Hopefully you are already following me on Twitter, if not then please do @twbsmusic #shamelessfollowergrab
Twitter is a fantastic way of sharing with students, parents and the whole world, exactly what is going on in your department. This might be an announcement, a photo or a live video. I think the important thing is to think about your target audience, your followers. They possibly don’t want to know when some homework is due, or where a timetable is going to be posted. Twitter followers want to hear something from you about your department. I think it is a good idea to keep the lesson & homework posts to the internal learning environment. But sometimes it is good to share a video, podcast or resource on Twitter because then students and other colleagues can pick up on it.
So if you are using Twitter, maybe think about what you are going to share. It is sometimes good to say “looking forward to Orchestra today” rather than just saying that Orchestra is on at lunchtime. But that is my opinion on course and you can choose how you want to use Twitter!
Twitter is also a great place for following other music teachers in order to see what they are getting up to. I love seeing positive comments, lesson ideas and good news stories. Remember that if you are using your school name as part of your Twitter then keep it to school stuff or things that are relevant. If you want to rant about something, share wider opinions or get political, then use your own personal Twitter. If you use your school Twitter to say how awful your day has been then that might not come across well! It is just about being “professional” and sensible.
A photo can speak a thousand words and that is what is great about Instagram (@windsormusic if you are interested). I think it is a great way to show exactly what is going on in your department. A photo from a lesson, rehearsal or event can really inspire and encourage the students. It is also an easy way to show the community and the world what you have going on. One photo a day, or at least a few a week, should keep everyone happy.
Instagram live is also a fantastic way of engaging with your students and wider school community. I used it during lockdown and held a “Virtual Music Room” every day of the week. It was lots of fun and students enjoyed the community aspect of it. There is always the risk of someone making a silly comment, but I found that students (& parents) really respected the live feed.
I guess its similar to Twitter in that if it is your school Instagram account, then stick to pictures about school or ones that are going to directly relate to school. The occasional extra is fine, but your followers are following you to see what is going on at school!
Facebook is a wonderful platform for teachers as there are so many groups to join and be part of. The Facebook community is often so helpful and you can seek advice from so many colleagues. There are groups for all the GCSE & A-Level Music exam boards, as well as general music teaching and Key Stage 3 groups. I love being part of these groups and also being the admin on a few of them. But I have some thoughts on Facebook
- If you join a group, answer the questions so that admin can quickly and easily add you.
- Read the previous posts to see if your question has been asked already. If it has then you will find the answer you are looking for quickly and easily.
- Remember Context & Setting! You might want advice on something that is specific to you and your school. The more information you give, the more help others can be. Similarly when giving advice, remember that everyone is in a different context and setting. Switching exam boards is always a hot topic and yet sometimes we can’t fully advise without knowing the context.
- Try and be positive as much as possible. Everyone is trying their best and sometimes people can get upset. But I do think that sometimes we ask things that open us up to a response that we don’t want. Be careful what you wish for I guess.
- Copyright matters and we mustn’t share things that we don’t own or that someone else is selling. PDFs of textbooks are a big no no and we have to respect the people that are selling them.
- Find people you trust, get to know them and then maybe contact them directly for support.
- Don’t share things that go against the group rules.
As someone who uses Facebook groups a lot, I just want to see them as healthy and wonderful places for teachers. I think we can really get a lot from them and there are so many people out there willing to help. But you have to remember that not everyone will have the right answer or opinion. You have to filter what you read and work out the best advice. Ultimately, it is just so wonderful to see teachers sharing ideas and resources – what a great community we are part of!
Getting the Most out of Social Media
We have such a range of options when it comes to Social Media and I now rely on it a great deal. But I think that at times, getting the most out of social media means not using it all the time. We can easily get addicted to the groups, feeds and posts and often we need some down time. I know we all work at different times of day and have different schedules. But we have to be careful to look after ourselves and our own wellbeing. If you are having a bad day, then reading a post from a keen and excitable Mr. Manwaring about a great rehearsal he had, might just irritate you! Sometimes comparison is a stealer of joy and we need to be careful how much we are reading.
I am conscious, particularly at the moment, of posting lots of positives. But then I also feel that it is good to share success and positives. Balance is key I guess and I am sorry if my positivity is at times irritating! Trust me there is a loads of tough stuff under the surface, but I don’t like to share that with the world all the time. It is great to see positives so do keep ’em coming!
But Getting the most out of Social Media is also about working out what works for us. It is about engaging, sharing, caring and responding. It is about great photos, inspiring stories and lots of questions. When we use it right we can get our lessons, planning and departments sorted. We can find out things quickly and efficiently and feel part of a wider community. The best thing for me is knowing that there are other music teachers out there that can help.
I hope to see you online somewhere, and maybe I will pick up a few more followers. And hopefully this post, which you will have found through Social Media, will help you to navigate all of the platforms that are out there.
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