It wasn’t too long ago that I would rely on the local newspaper, magazine or flier for the most current & relevant information to my field: education. It seems as if overnight, the dynamics of social media have radically transformed what I read, interpret and utilize in my classroom practice. In reflecting upon my own personal growth as an educator, it is clear that social media has not only enhanced what I do each day but it has motivated me to explore other avenues and aspects in education.

Twitter: When I first discovered the # in front of every word or phrase, it confused me and looked silly. Now, it seems normal to want to # every thought or idea that comes to mind, even indulging and joining the # frenzy with different acronyms. Twitter has served a great purpose for me, in that I can reach and read about educators beyond my classroom walls. I am able to view videos, articles and current educational information due to whom I follow on Twitter. Creating my own communities of who I follow and who follows me has revolutionized how I disperse and interpret relevant information relating to my field. #thanks @twitter

Pinterest: As an educator, I am always desperately searching for resources & ideas that are applicable to different units of study within my classroom. If only I had known sooner that such a fantastic organization space existed virtually. {Sigh} When it comes to teaching a foreign language, authentic resources are key interpretive tools and Pinterest has allowed me to organize all of the resources I find online into one space. For example, I’m planning my lessons for next week and I need to find a restaurant menu in Spanish or a video on going to a Spanish restaurant. Have no fear, Pinterest is here! Doing a quick search of what I have already gathered or what may still exist on other “boards” amongst the users I follow and suddenly, I have instant access to all types of different things that I can use with my students the following week. This gives me relief and joy, after my frequent attempts of google searching images and websites for that perfect authentic resource.

Edmodo: It’s like Facebook, but for educators! I utilized Edmodo with my students this past year for the first time. I was able to send updates with links, images or videos directly to my students, assign homework or quizzes online and of course, facilitate interpersonal communicate solely in Spanish. As I continued to explore Edmodo, I learned about all of the wonderful, collaborative groups of world language educators that existed as well. If I had a question or a comment about a particular topic, I had a network of over 75,000 world language teachers there to help me along the way. And, regardless of the time of day a message was posted, there was always helpful responses and insightful commentary. Thinking about creating a PLC or PLN, check out Edmodo for collaboration and meaningful discussion.

LinkedIn: So you have a job….and you are on LinkedIn. Are you utilizing all of the group discussion space available? Between joining groups surrounding reading/literacy, education and teaching Spanish, I am usually overwhelmed with what to choose to read surrounding a topic of interest. So, based on what I have previously read and enjoyed, I stick to the groups who lead me to some creative, innovative questioning and thinking. It is always best to stick to what you know & enjoy when there are hundreds of topics thrown your way.

All of the above sites have their positives & negatives. Ultimately, these are the four that I have found to be the most useful in my own personal revolution on how I discover what is going on in the educational community and how I also communicate with others. Over the past year, social media has changed how I learn and grow as an educator. Has it for you?