This post is really hard for me to write. Painfully hard. It’s a post that I’ve been thinking about for weeks now, but after a conversation with my teaching partner, Paula, the other day, I decided that it was time to put it out there. When we moved to Emergency Distance Learning back in March, educators were told that they could choose the platform to use with their families. Our Board supported Microsoft Teams and The Hub (a D2L option), and for those that weren’t already using an online option with families, they were encouraged to choose one of these two options. Paula and I had been using our class blog since before school started in September, so we continued to share asynchronous learning options through there and moved between Google Meet and Microsoft Teams for synchronous learning. Early on though, we were told that everyone would be using Microsoft Teams and/or The Hub come September. Over the summer, I’ve had the opportunity to be a site lead for one of our Board’s Virtual Summer Camps, which has really helped me improve on my Microsoft Teams’ skills. While I now feel more confident using this platform for the upcoming school year, a problem has been in the back of my mind for the past few months: how will this move to Microsoft Teams change our workflow?
For the past couple of years, Paula and I have used a combination of Twitter, Instagram, and our class blog to share daily learning with families and fellow educators, hear feedback from others, and extend learning based on these interactions. I know that many people question why we use three platforms.
- We like to not just share photographs and videos, but provide a context for the learning that takes place in each of our shares. This takes time, which means that the completed blog post is not usually live until later on in the evening. Parents appreciate being able to check out Twitter and Instagram to see the individual posts as they appear. They can then use these posts to discuss the daily learning with their child.
- We like to meet people where they’re at. The blog works for some of our families, but not everyone. A few of our parents tweet regularly. Many are on Instagram. Sharing posts in these ways, allows parents to access them in the spaces that work for them.
- Twitter and Instagram are connected. For years, I only used Twitter, but trying to share a mini-learning story in 120-240 characters is a challenge. Instagram gives us a greater upper word limit. Cross-posting though, allows those families on Twitter to see the tweet of the Instagram story, while others just view the post on Instagram.
- We get more feedback using these social media platforms. When we only blogged, we rarely received comments or questions on our posts. Many parents though will add a short comment on Instagram, or even a “heart” to show that they like the post. This provides another way to connect and communicate with families.
- The blog provides the bigger picture. Through the blog, we are able to provide an overall context for the learning and connect the snippets of play captured in each of the individual posts. Every time I get my Teacher Performance Appraisal done, I’m thankful for a class blog and the connections that my administrators can see between play and expectations.
This year though, when school moved online, our workflow changed, as we were not able to capture and record learning from home in the same way. Privacy became an even bigger concern, as we were now seeing inside personal spaces. While I occasionally tweeted reflections from our synchronous classes, we didn’t take photographs and videos from these live sessions. Pretty soon, my Instagram account became a space to share book recommendations, and my Twitter account became a space for a few professional connections and reflections. I was okay with this, but I was looking forward to going back to normal. That was, until I had lunch with Paula and let that little voice in the back of my head, move to the forefront.
If we’re moving to Microsoft Teams as a Board, are there benefits for families in keeping with a single platform? Looking at the links included in our class blog, we could easily migrate these to channels on a Team. They might not look exactly the same, but they would be close. Teams is also connected with Microsoft Sway, which could be used for a daily class blog post. Although it’s possible to link Instagram posts and embed tweets as part of these Sways, we’re wondering if using this platform might also change how we share documentation.
- Will we be more selective with photographs?
- Will we only include some video clips?
- Will the post become a story of our day and our learning, with only a handful of images and videos shared and described through the Sway text?
This could be a way that we can increase student privacy, with most learning shared through our private Microsoft Team. As our JK families learn to navigate a new platform with MS Teams, parents would then not need to switch back-and-forth between Teams, our class blog, Twitter, and Instagram. We can still use the images and videos shared in our Sways to provoke and extend learning at school. Maybe by being more selective about photographs and videos shared, we can complete and publish these posts earlier: allowing families to explore and discuss them more with their children.
As two people who have been very visible with our thinking, learning, and reflection, this new workflow is a hard change for both of us to make. We’re wondering though if, depending on our Media Release Form and parental responses, we might be able to share a few photographs and video clips on Twitter and Instagram.
- Ones without faces.
- Ones focused on deeper learning and classroom projects.
- Ones that we can use for our professional reflections and evidence of growth.
- Ones that might highlight successes, but also have us wondering about extension possibilities.
Sharing on social media would now be focused more explicitly on professional sharing and feedback. We might not have a class blog, but I will still have a professional one, and maybe I can convince Paula to share a few more guest posts as part of that. 🙂 Change is hard, especially when you have a comfortable routine that works.
- Are we drawn to our Twitter/Instagram/blog workflow because this is what we’ve always done or because this is what’s best? Who is it “best“ for? Us? Our kids? Our families?
- Knowing our Board’s plan for next year, is it time to push ourselves into some uncomfortable changes in order to reduce parental stress around multiple platforms?
- What feedback might you give to us as we continue to contemplate these changes?
We might not be saying, “goodbye,” to Twitter, Instagram, and blogging, but it could be time for a revised “hello.”