Is Blogging and Social Media Making Us Leave the Profession?

Sometimes this whole blogging and social media presence reminds me of Queen’s “Under Pressure.” I’ve talked a lot about the positives that have come from connectivism and social media as a teacher.  I love sharing the successes I have had in my classroom and I am lucky to have many examples to share. I think collaboration and positive support from others around the globe is extremely valuable as a professional. After reading “Why Even the Worst Bloggers are Making Us Smarter”, I came to a some realizations.

I strongly agree in what is described as the “audience effect.” Although blogs are informal, I am always hyper-critical of what I am writing since I know I am (or have the potential) to reach people from around the globe. I think this can be a very positive thing, and I am especially excited to see if I can see a noticeable different students writing once I set up a blog hub and they can see each other’s work– it’s like a science experiment for education. Boo yeah.

Science Experiment

Photo Credit: Waag Society via Compfight cc

However, I am also critical about the implications of reaching a wide audience. I know what a powerful impact this can have on my future endeavors as an educator.  Do I want to become an administrator? professor? I am not sure. Online platforms can be a great way for me to further my ambitions and that’s pretty amazing but I also feel like it’s putting a black and white high contrast filter on a picture.  Ultimately, I am not going to really complain about things that happen in my classroom or the harsh realities of teaching today.

Teaching Filter

Photograph by Jason G. Antonio

Yes, I could do it and put a positive spin to what I’ve learned from the experience and it wouldn’t be a lie. I really do consider myself to have a growth mindset for education.  If something fails, I try and look at it from an objective perspective and see what I can do to change the results– I do not simply dismiss a practice because “well, I tried it and it didn’t work!” Also, I am writing this in a coffee shop and had the most mocking facial expressions while typing that quote– a few people looked concerned.

Is it dangerous to always highlight education in this way? Is it giving people a false reality of the kinds of issues we face as teachers?

Similar to how Facebook (and other social media sites) may cause depressive symptoms among both men and women because people compare themselves to other’s online presence. I can’t help but feel how this constant highlight reel for education is part of the reason an alarming rate of teachers are dropping out of the profession within the first 5 years of their career.

Depression

Photo Credit: michellerobinson.photography via Compfight cc

A few colleagues and people from around the province consider me to be an expert for integrating technology into the classroom. It seems so weird and scary to have this kind of reputation but, perhaps more importantly, it also seems undeserved. I have had a few people say “Oh, I feel like I fail in comparison to you for x and y and z,” and I just want to scream “I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I AM DOING.” People are comparing themselves to my highlight reel and, while I know that can have a lot of positives, I think it is adding to the pressure and failure we feel as teachers.

What do you think? Do the positives of this outweigh the negatives? Do you think teachers compare themselves to “experts” which leads to them feeling like they’re not doing enough?

-Koskie Out.

 

9 thoughts on “Is Blogging and Social Media Making Us Leave the Profession?

  1. Hi Katherine, love this post, made me think, and that makes people smarter lol! I connected it to something a prof told us in an HR class years ago. It stuck with me because he outright told everyone in the class that at least half of us wouldn’t be in the profession after our first 5 years. Even considering job market factors, etc, a great deal of the teacher attrition would occur because of the personality traits that attract people to the profession. Highly academic or perfectionist types find the inability to know everything and/or the realities of dealing with children and their diversity very stressful and they were at high risk of burnout. And people attracted to the profession because of the holidays or perceived lifestyle would be in for a very rude awakening. I think that still makes sense even though he said that long before social media became a part of everyone’s lives.

    I think your post illustrates why social media has huge potential for exploring and sharing ideas, thoughts, and discoveries. Teachers miss that in the hectic every day of teaching, extracurricular, etc. The best PD is ongoing and while good teachers are naturally reflective, true growth comes from discussion. A few guided PDs a year can never do that for you.

    We do have to edit ourselves somewhat on social media, but everyone should. The trick is figuring out how to do that effectively. There has to be a shared understanding that ideas are thoughts that occur in a specific place and time. They change and with challenges and feedback from others, they evolve. I think the more we do this in our profession, we get stronger, smarter, and more effective in the classroom and beyond. We learn how to accept and manage the pressure and make it work for us. You rock, girl!

    • I was having the discussion of being a perfectionist in this profession with Danielle a couple weeks ago and we discussed similar experiences. It’s nice to hear some alternative perspectives on this issue– proving how positive and powerful social media and blogging can be with the conversation a bunch of professionals are having via this blog post (most commenting on my Facebook right now).

  2. I think sometimes in our profession, we can get too caught up in worrying about what others are doing or think we should be doing. Perhaps the questions we are asking ourselves should revolve more around student need. What do our students today need in order to be successful for tomorrow? Not to suggest that we don’t need to feel success as teachers too. It would be so nice to see educators wanting to grow and improve for the betterment of education. Always appreciate the thoughts put into your posts!

    • Totally! Sometimes jumping on the bandwagon of a new idea is NOT what is best for your students at the moment. For teachers who see what I’m doing in my classroom and want to do it in their own rooms…I often say, “before you go into researching this and implementing it into your teaching practice…what do you hope to gain out of it? Is it going to help your students?” Sometimes just carrying on with what you’re already doing is what is best.

      This is important to think about too if you try out something new and it flops, or doesn’t have the impact you thought it would. IT’S OKAY TO TRY SOMETHING NEW AND THEN DECIDE IT ISN’T WORTH IT. Maybe try again next year with a different group of students. Not everything that works for one teacher will work for all teachers!

    • Yeah I definitely agree with that sentiment. I guess the question I was posing was if this filtered educational world a big reason teachers get caught up in worrying about what others are doing, thereby making us feel like we aren’t doing enough? If we didn’t have access to this kind of information would we be able to more easily focus on what *our own* students need and less on what works for some other people in their specific environments? Ultimately, school is about engaging students in learning rather than comprehending specific content. I love seeing my students engaging in discussions I know I would not have had in high school.

      Anyway, just food for thought. I use connectivism to fuel my passions for the most part but I think it’s important to be critical of some aspects too.

  3. I enjoyed your post, but especially the second-last paragraph. I too feel that the teachers in my school consider me an expert with everything technology-related. I often hear the excuse for why they don’t use technology in their teaching as “well it’s not as easy for me as it is for you – you know how to do everything!”.

    I laughed to myself as I read your line: I just want to scream “I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I AM DOING.”

    It’s so true! I don’t know what I’m doing any more than the next person, but if I see something that I think could help me grow as an educator, or help improve my students’ learning, I check it out. Yes that may mean spending some time learning how to do something new and stumbling along the way, but by no means did I just wake up knowing how to use Twitter, or create a blog, or know how to troubleshoot technology.

    To answer your last question, yes I absolutely think teachers compare themselves to “experts”. However, this can have both a positive and a negative effect. Lots of teachers compare themselves to others and end up feeling defeated and have the thought of “if I can’t do it as well as them then I’m not even going to try”. However, I consider myself in the other category of people who see what ‘experts’ are doing and think “oooh that looks cool/interesting/effective. I’m going to read more about it, or follow them, or contact them, and see if I can integrate that into my teaching too.” Usually that train of thought also grows into sharing this new information with anyone who will listen! The difference in the people in these two groups I think could be generational, dependent upon what type of learning environment they are in, and who is supporting their life-long learning goals.

    • Haha yep! “No, I really don’t just know all of this stuff because I am younger than you… I am fumbling around and trying new things out.” Some of my ideas have worked amazingly, others not at all.

      In regards to your last paragraph, I think it’s a little more grey than being in one category or another. I know I also look to see what ‘experts’ are doing and adapt it to meet the needs of my students. I’ve connected with some pretty amazing people who have helped fuel my passions and supported areas that I don’t feel strong enough in. However, I think it’s human nature to compare yourself to what other people are doing. Since social media and blogging allow you to focus on your specific passion (anti-oppressive ed, technology, assessment, etc.) you get this weird distorted reality where people seem so enamored with their work in classrooms where nothing goes wrong. I think it’s important to be cognizant that, just as I don’t post myself eating Cheetos in my sweatpants on Facebook, ‘experts’ aren’t posting a lot of struggles in their practices. Vulnerability on the internet isn’t a common thing. Sometimes we just need to remind our brains that we are looking through a filtered lens– that doesn’t mean the ideas are less valuable or can’t be used in positive ways because I steal people’s ideas ALL THE TIME.

      Anyway, I really am a huge advocate for connectivism, social media, and blogging. I appreciate you commenting on this post. The value of blogging is being demonstrated by the conversations I am having right now with people engaging in my post– it’s pretty amazing.

    • Shantelle, this is too good. Just before the break I was showing a few colleagues your ELA and Math curriculum expectation docs on your website and I was quick to get a few “Wow, if that’s what teachers are doing these days than I am failing”. And this was coming from a colleague that I have a tremendous amount of respect for, and only hope that I can mirror what she does with her students. I think it’s really easy to recognize what we aren’t doing rather than acknowledging our strengths.

      I really enjoyed reading this post Katherine. If we weren’t so connected, maybe more teachers wouldn’t be feeling these pressures, but teachers also wouldn’t be creating these impressive networks that support learning in a rich, dynamic way.

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