It was not long ago that the only way anybody would know about the powerful, amazing, creative work happening in our classrooms was if they would physically talk to us. While face-to-face connections are powerful, the ideas shared in those conversations only spread as far as the humans wish to take them.
Many of us have at least signed up for a social network like Google+ or Twitter, but are we really leveraging it to share our work, our students thinking, and our classrooms with the world? Should we be?
A few weeks ago I spoke with a parent that was very impressed with one of the videos she found on an SDW teacher's YouTube channel. "It is so nice to see what is happening in the classroom." As a parent myself, it feels like the events of my children's school days are somewhat of a mystery -- 8 hours of school summed up into a ten minute conversation hardly seems to cover the scope of what they experienced throughout the day. Parents are looking for some insight into what their children experience each day and the important work they are doing. Using these social networks and media outlets to share what is happening in our classroom is just one way we can offer parents a chance to investigate the great things that are happening instructionally.
Equally true, educators are scouring these social networks for ideas and examples of what is being done in other classrooms. I regularly search the archives of Google+ to see how we, as educators, are "going public" with our thinking, using the tools placed in our hands, and giving our students a voice that can be shared with the world. This was one of the great focal points of our summer institute work surrounding literacy -- giving students an authentic audience to share their thinking (making it visible). Like it or not, we carry this responsibility. Our students have plenty of opportunities to share "socially" with the world in informal settings online. This is our chance to show them how to productively use these media outlets to share academically, professionally, formally, and respectfully in order to make a difference!
Finding a new, authentic audience is not as time consuming as it once was -- we no longer have to gather an audience of parents or community/business leaders in advance, or make connections with teachers from across the country weeks before the unit of study.
These social networks are bringing an audience right to us. The devices in our hands, available in our classrooms, are built specifically with the intent of sharing with these audiences.
The question is not about who will read our thinking or view our students' work.
More importantly the question is: What will you and your students share? How will you "Go Public" with your thinking?