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My Social Media Story

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Year one of teaching is scary enough on its own; but when you add in the prospect of thousands of people watching you go on that journey publicly, intimidation doesn't even come close to describing it.

Before I started teaching, I decided I needed to write about my first year of teaching, that was settled. Journaling had helped me sort out issues and frustrations in student teaching and I wanted to recreate that experience again for Year One.

I finished student teaching in December of 2008 and started subbing full-time in the same district the following Spring. I felt very fortunate to have a job after graduating, but I still felt the need to do more (and defer my loans just a bit longer) so I started a master's degree right away.

Starting a graduate program while subbing did two things for me: it exposed me to a massive amount of educational and professional literature which needed to be processed, and it gave me the time, attention, and desire to write about it. Since I was subbing mostly in a computer lab and playing the role of a writing tutor I was allowed ample opportunity to do my graduate work while observing students. This was helpful; I wasn't just reading theory and considering it in an academic vacuum, I was actively working with students and other teachers (those who came to the lab) and writing about it.

My connection to social media, as you might be predicting, sprang from this experience. Sure, it wasn't a 10,000 hour, Outlier-birthing semester a la Malcolm Gladwell, but it certainly was transformational. Whenever I read a journal article, an excerpt from a professional publication on teaching, or a discussion board post from my fellow graduate students in education, I was itching to share and hear more. While it was nice to hear from my professor and our class about a topic, and equally nice to talk with educators the school where I worked, I felt I needed to triangulate.

Social media made it possible for me to connect with educators around the country (around the world really). Not only could I find other new teachers trying to figure it all out, but I could talk to teaching veterans, authors, and people shaping the landscape of the profession. This access took the shape of many different kinds of interactions. I asked questions, read blog posts, left comments, and even gave some advice on things I felt comfortable with.

Social media helped to facilitate a "flow" experience for me during my first year of teaching. I had encountered that feeling a few times before while working in some classes in college and during extracurricular activities in high school, but never within the act of teaching or considering the work of teaching.

What this resource is designed to do is first provide a glimpse into my life as a new teacher in 2009-2010. Its goal is also to model what participation in digital writing and social media looks like, feels like, and sounds like in the scopes of an entire day, week, month, and ultimately my whole first year.

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Comments
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<p>Steve, This is an amazing resource. I am only now making my way through it.</p><p>Your core inquiry, though, about going through the first year of teaching in public, on the screen, is really interesting and important. What is the difference this difference makes? I think there are various instances where new teachers are blogging, perhaps because of personal inclination or perhaps because it has come to be part of a new teacher program (much like the 'first year journal' used to be). But it is public, and that makes a difference. It would be interesting to have other new teachers read your social media story and join the discussion. I'm wondering what a blogging circle among new teachers would look like...?</p>
<p>I kept a physical journal during my student teaching as a requirement for the program. It became a place to vent my frustrations. It wasn't always something that I would have shared publicly, but I think engaging in the practice made me consider how writing in a public space would help me to find something useful. I started to look for new teacher blogs but found very few. </p> <p>When I transitioned from student teaching to subbing full-time, I tried my hand at balancing the venting of frustrations that came from challenges in teaching and asking&nbsp;the fundamental questions that resulted about my practice. Social media made it possible for me to find/craft an audience, make meaning, and prepare myself for a public dialogue about my practice. It was no small undertaking, but I think many teacher education programs are moving in a similar direction.</p> <p>I would love to see more new and pre-service teachers blogging and engaging each other on social media. </p>
<p>Hi Steve,</p> <p>I'm wondering about the dance between public and private in terms of the private physical journal and the public blog. &nbsp;I can see benefits in a private space, be it journal or digital, for venting/working out tentative ideas/responding without concerns about exposing others in the setting to violations of <em>their</em> privacy (particularly minors). In my own work as a teacher educator, I know that journal writing in connection with my students' inquiry projects was a key practice that had the benefit of letting me coach the difference between what one could say in the pages of the journal and what should be published in a paper or shared in a presentation or posted on a blog. So I found it useful to be able to participate in that dance.&nbsp;But I also believe that a community of bloggers provides importance response and works against the isolation that so many teachers—and particularly new teachers—feel.</p> <p>You seem to have navigated the waters of public/private fairly effectively, even in a setting like k-12 education which introduces a range of complexities. Perhaps this is worth a discussion at some time...in the future. :-)</p>