Friday, April 08, 2016

Teaching Tip #142

Teacherscribe’s Teaching Tip #142
The four skills innovative teachers need to thrive with millennials and in the digital age.
3.  You have to have 21st century leadership skills
What the heck are 21st century leadership skills?  Well, according to this author, Darren Hardy, the publishers of Success magazine, it means learning how to leverage all of the technology tools to rally and inspire your students.
Using social media and technology is a given here.  Again, I know a majority of teachers don’t use social media.  But I think it’s a mistake to not use it to engage students on some levels.  I’m not saying you have to go all in like I do, but at least share content with them on Twitter.  Or provide value to them on Facebook or Instagram.
Here is an example of the importance of this in real time.  As I type this (it’s August 5th), I just got a text from a student showing me her acceptance letter to BSU.  This is the perfect time for me to show her how proud I am of her - my text back to her - “Awesome!!!!  That’s my old school!!! So proud of you!!!!”  Okay, don't judge me for my preposterous overuse of exclamation points!
But are there ever enough times to tell and show our students how we are proud of them and how much we care about them?
Don’t get me wrong.  There need to be boundaries set for students and to protect teachers.  But once those are in place, the impact this has on culture is second to none.
Another way I use technology, specifically social media to model 21st century leadership skills is this: millennials tend to want to buy or do business with companies that have integrity and do the right thing.  I’m not making this up.  Look it up.
What better way to illustrate that I have integrity and do the right thing than by not only modeling it on social media but also illustrating it on social media?  
This is why when I read a book, I’ll Tweet out my impressions of it and my reactions to it.  My point is to illustrate to the students that I’m a life long learner.  I’ve taught for 18 years.  I studied writing intensely in graduate school.  I’ve read dozens of books on comp theory . . . and I still am learning more about writing and how to teaching writing more effectively.  I’m not going to just rely on the textbook to get me through the class.  How can showing students this hurt?  In fact, it helps, again, model that I am a life long learner and struggling through texts, just like they are.
Likewise, when I see a connection to something we are reading in class, I will call it out.  Maybe it’s an allusion in a Simpsons episode, or maybe it’s a creepy film that reminds me of “The Yellow Wallpaper” or maybe it’s a pin that is right out of “Young Goodman Brown” or a news story that connects to “The Lottery.”  These are all ways for me to show students that what we read in class is connected to the world we live in right now.  How can that hurt?
Finally, technology and social media are a great way to show our passion.  Now, passion is everything.  But it’s vital.  I can’t remember who said it, but he said, “Passion leads.”  Who doesn’t want to be around someone who is passionate about what they do?  I believe the same is true for our students.
So every chance I get I post about my passions - reading, writing, TKM, Star Wars, Legos, my family, and so on.
Sometimes kids glom on to the dumb stuff that I’m passionate about - I swear every time a student or colleague goes to the Mall of America, I’m inundated (happily inundated by the way) with texts or FB posts or Tweets or Instagrams of pics of the Crocs store or Lego Land.  But the point is that they think of me.  And I do the same for them whenever I know a student is passionate about something.  It’s about building a relationship.  Lay that foundation and the learning will be more engaging and meaningful

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