The best teachers in the world connect with their students on some personal level.
I have always believed that. It does not mean that you share every element of your personal life, but it does mean that you do share parts. The teachers that impacted me, I remember knowingmore about them than simply what they taught, and it is the reason I became a teacher. I wanted to make that same impact.
So why do we believe something different when it comes to social media? Many people are worried about revealing too much about themselves and that will somehow be an invasion of privacy, yet it is always up to the individual on “what” and “how much” they share. My personal belief and guideline on social media is the following:
“Whatever you can say to a classroom of students is what you can say online.”
If you follow that, you should not only be fine but you can make some pretty powerful connections.
Which brings me to why I am writing this in the first place…
After a presentation that I had made for Peel District School Board in Ontario, I had an educator approach me and tell me that she wanted me to share a story. As she teared up, I worried about how I might have offended her or said something wrong. Actually the opposite.
In my tweets, I have shared music I like to the hashtag #georgetunes. I am a huge music fan, and although I share the occasional One Direction or Wham song (as a joke…maybe not), I am a huge fan of a lot of very mellow music such as William Fitzsimmons, Iron and Wine, and Keane, which has led people to sharing music from bands from The Avett Brothers. This is something that I would have shared with students so it is not something I was reluctant to share online.
So as this “stranger” shared her story with me, she told me about how someone suggested that she follow me on Twitter. Although she shared that she appreciated my educational tweets, she really enjoyed a lot of the music that I shared, as we had similar tastes.
And then her mother passed away.
She took a risk, reached out to a stranger (my email is listed on my blog), and shared that she connected with me on Twitter, loved the music I shared, and told me about how her mom had passed. She then asked me a suggestion for a song. Of course, I responded immediately, and gave her a suggestion to which she told me that played at her mom’s funeral. She thanked me for not only responding, but for being willing to share in the first place.
I have not stopped thinking about what she told me and her story.
People have made fun of me for sharing some stuff online (like #georgetunes), but I don’t see myself as an “educator first”, but a person with many sides and interests. Those connections are what I believed in as an educator, and carry over to what I do online. I also have been reminded once again that every little thing you share can make a big impact, no matter how insignificant it may seem, so try to focus on the positive. Who knows what it can do for someone else.