Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Teachers Lead Through Social Media

January 07, 2014

One of my strongly held beliefs is that teachers’ professional learning should be owned by teachers. Time and again, we see teachers across the country doing just that—innovating in their classrooms, sharing their expertise, reaching out to colleagues with questions, taking on teacher leadership roles and more.

 Teachers are challenging stereotypes about who is using social media, how and why.This past fall, Melinda Gates and I met with a group of teachers who individually—and on their own accord—are using social media to engage large numbers of their colleagues in thinking about and problem solving around teaching and learning.

These teachers surprised us in many ways. They each have more than 10 years of teaching experience, with one teacher in her 28th year in education. They teach different subject areas and in all different schools, from urban to rural. They come from different corners of the country–Texas, Kentucky, Illinois and New York. And, these teachers use all types of social media tools, including Pinterest, Twitter, blogs, Instagram, Facebook and more.

 Over the next few weeks, you’ll meet these teachers in a series of blog posts.In other words, these social media/teacher experts are challenging the stereotype about who is using social media, how and why.

Over the next few weeks you’ll meet these teachers in a series of blog posts. You’ll learn more about the Pintrest following of Texas art teacher Donna Staten. New York math specialist David Wees will share how he crowd sources instructional ideas through Twitter. We’ll gain an understanding of how Illinois teacher Matt Sutton conducts 80-90 percent of his professional learning through connections from his blog and other online sources.  And, we will see how Kentuckian Sheri McPherson and Long Islander Elizabeth Stein connected to teacher learning communities and education policy makers through social media venues.

Here at the Foundation, we are deeply interested in helping all teachers become learners, experts and leaders and have recently launched an Innovative Professional Development Project (iPD) to five school districts–Fresno and Long Beach, CA; Bridgeport and New Haven, CT; and Jefferson County, CO. The challenge is to create more personalized and professional learning systems for teachers that take advantage of new technologies and the power of teacher-to-teacher collaboration.

I am excited about the opportunities social media provides to accelerate teacher networking and support the scale and spread of powerful tools that can be used by teachers across the country.

 
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