A few years ago, I was on a trivia team with some colleagues and friends. The trivia organizers were going around to collect the names of teams participating. This was around the time that my close, personal friends (I wish!) Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake put out their #hashtag video. You know the one. #youknowtheone
We brilliantly decided to call ourselves #nohashtag (to be read as hashtag no hashtag). I didn’t know it then, but that team name set me up for this very blog post. I will be honest, I had reservations a year and a half ago when I decided to take the plunge and join COETAIL. My reservations became even greater when I read through Course 1’s descriptions about the social media piece. I sucked it up and became comfortable with being uncomfortable. I attempted to become active on Twitter. I purposefully searched hashtags to use in my own tweets as well as hashtags to search when looking for information in the Twitterverse AND to help grow my Twitter PLN. It all became too much. I didn’t like the character constraints– not adding that final ‘g’ to words to save on character counts. The literacy teacher in me cringed. Every single time. I went from joining COETAIL thinking that Twitter was what celebrities and teenagers used to tell us every single part of their day to wrapping up COETAIL seeing the value and importance of Twitter– but it’s not for me.
My jam is Instagram. I attempted to set up my PLN through this social media platform and it’s definitely a work in progress and will probably continue to be so for awhile. I’ve found that gathering followers is more challenging on Instagram than it is on Twitter, but it can be done! More than that, I’ve been trying to find quality Instagramers to follow. They are out there! When I say quality, I mean they’re posting educational pictures and thoughts. It’s great that you have a cute outfit of the day [#ootd], but I honestly am not looking to see your outfit. You posted the latest resource book that you’re reading? OH YES. Give me more of that, because chances are, I was probably looking to purchase that same book and was wondering if it’s worth the purchase. You’ve taken on a challenge to post a month of gratitude? This is an area of my life where I could always use extra practice. I’ll join you on this journey!
The hashtag process is still the same with Instagram. I have to find the perfect hashtag to get my picture seen by others. I have to search the perfect hashtag to start making connections with other educators on Instagram. I have to remember to take pictures and/or video of my students so that I can post said pictures and/or videos. I’ve been getting better at taking pictures and video of students as they’re working, but I’ve oftentimes found myself wondering WHY I’m doing this. Am I taking these pictures because I want others to see all of the interactive activities that go on behind closed doors in 4D? Yes, there is a part of me that wants that. Am I doing this so that when people search #kispride my pictures show up in that feed? For sure. I want others in the world to see what kind of a school I teach at. Then my mind starts to wander. It wanders to people who are active on social media platforms like this young girl from Australia. It was all for show. She was mature enough to realize her motives and intentions and took action to fix it. I’m sure there’s a part of all of us that struggles with this. I need to check myself (before I wreck myself), so that I don’t get caught up in it all.
My PLN on Instagram is slowly growing. I realize that part of our objective was to provide evidence of consistent, on-going communication. Unfortunately, I don’t have that. I do, however, have evidence of communication. While it’s not consistent, nor on-going, it’s there. Part of the reason is because I work on a team of educators who are truly collaborative. We are constantly bouncing ideas off of one another. If there’s an idea that we’re looking for, we do just that- look for it. Our running joke is that pretty much everything can be found on google.com (to be read as google dot com). If we have a question, we simply respond- google.com.
For me, growth has come because I’ve ventured to using my PLN to ask others for ideas, or searching a specific hashtag. I believe that if I were to reflect on my PLN 6 months from now, I’d have more to show in this area. My
followers are small, but a majority of my followers aren’t people I know. These are true connections that I’ve made, on my own. I even had one woman who has literally THOUSANDS of followers, follow ME, because of the tech integration I’ve documented in my class, and even went so far as comparing me to THE Jennie Magiera! It’s a stretch, I know, but I’ll take it! I’ll keep at documentation and creating connections, and continue to use a blend of tapping into my teammates for ideas as well as my slowly growing PLN.