Teachers Tweeting for Support and Inspiration

Today’s Washington Post has a nice story about how teachers are using Twitter to connect with each other and get just-in-time training. Here’s an excerpt:

After her first year teaching history in a public high school in the District, Jamie Josephson was exhausted and plagued by self-doubt. Teaching had been more grueling than she ever expected. Law school began to sound appealing.

Then she stumbled onto Twitter. In the vast social network on the Web, she discovered a community of mentors offering inspiration, commiseration and classroom-tested lesson plans.

“Twitter essentially prepared me to go into my second year and not give up,” said Josephson, now in her third year at Woodrow Wilson High in Northwest Washington. “I never would have imagined that it would have been the place to find support.”

Josephson (known to fellow tweeters by her handle, @dontworryteach) is one of a small but growing number of teachers who are delving into the world of hashtags and retweets, using Twitter to improve their craft by reaching beyond the boundaries of their schools to connect with colleagues across the country and around the world.

The story goes on to tell about a now twice-weekly Twitter chat for teachers, #edchat, and the proliferation of chats around various subjects or specialties, including:

Tell teachers you know about these opportunities to get practical help and support through Twitter. And if they need encouragement or training, we’ve got a whole Twitter curriculum here on SMUG, including Twitter 115: 5 Benefits of Twitter Chats.



Should states ban student-teacher interactions on Facebook?

Yesterday’s Washington Post had an editorial about a misguided trend among state legislatures to ban communication between students and teachers through sites like Facebook and Twitter:

However, in some places, new laws and proposed measures are impeding teacher communication with students outside of school-sanctioned e-mail systems. The most recent practitioner of educational technophobia is Missouri, which last month adopted legislation intended to ban direct communication between teachers and students via Facebook.

The law is so broad it could effectively also bar student-teacher contact via Gmail or other non-school e-mail services. “No teacher shall establish, maintain, or use a nonwork-related Internet site which allows exclusive access with a current or former student,” the law reads.

The Post editorial board makes a good case against laws like this. I agree that these laws seem overly broad. I think are they well-intentioned as ways to prevent inappropriate relationships between students and teachers, but that banning Facebook messages is overkill. Facebook is just another means of communication, a platform more than 10 percent of the people in the world use.

Banning Facebook interactions seems analogous to prohibiting telephone contact between students and teachers. A private Facebook message can be sent even between users who don’t have a friend relationship, just as telephone conversations can happen between anyone via cell or land line. Should there be laws against phone calls too?

What do you think about these laws banning Facebook messaging in the schools?