Changing Perceptions of Teachers One Tweet At A Time

By Julie Hiltz     May 5, 2014

Changing Perceptions of Teachers One Tweet At A Time

Is it possible to changethe perception of a profession one tweet at a time?

I certainly think so.

Earlier this year, mycolleague Jaraux Washington and I were lamenting the fact that legislationaffecting teachers is written without the input of those working in theprofession. Even after 12 years of teaching, it’s still puzzling to me how policyand regulations that impact my profession are regularly crafted without anyteacher’s input.

I don’t find myselfquoting Matt Damon too often, but I thought he summed up this issue well in a Washington Post article:“We would never let businessmen design warheads. Why would you cut outeducators when you’re designing education policy?”

He’s right (not to mentionsuper adorable). Who knows more about teaching than teachers?

Surveys show time andagain teachers are among the nation’s most trusted professionals. Despite this,politicians seem to believe that they know more about what students need thanwe do. This issue is complicated by negative stories about teachers that aboundin the media and damage the perception of our profession: the teacher whoinadvertently misspells a word on a homework assignment, or stories that reiteratethe disparaging idiom "Those who can't, teach."

The underlying problem inall this is that teachers advocate for many things—except themselves and theirprofession. After all, most teachers don’t have time to craft Letters to the Editoror give testimony on Capitol Hill. Instead, they focus on their work andimproving the quality of their instruction for students.

But teachers have rich storiesto share. They have anecdotal evidence of the day-to-day challenges of theircareer. They have quotes, notes, and letters from students about how their teachinghas affected them. They have pictures and videos that convey how complex theirwork is. They have evidence to convince the public that they are exactly the people who should be leadingeducation reform.

So Jaraux and I askedourselves: How can teachers change the public narrative about teaching in a waythat doesn’t put one more responsibility on their plates?

The answer: Make it a partof what they’re already doing.

Like most people, onething teachers do in their spare time is socialize. Most of what our friendsand families know about our work already comes from their social interactionswith us. Why not capitalize on those relationships and share the true story ofwhat goes on in our classrooms? What would happen if we showed the world whatteaching truly is…in our own words?

And what better way togive these stories a wide reach than via social media?

Thus the #TeachingIs social media campaign was born. This TeacherAppreciation Week (May 5-9), teachers and their supporters are encouraged to leveragethe power of their social networks to share their stories and manifestos usingTwitter, blog posts, Vine, Instagram, YouTube, graphics, six word memoirs, andmore. All they have to do is use the hashtag #TeachingIs.

Jaraux and I are workingwith the Center for Teaching Quality to help promote this campaign. We’ve been able touse technology in some neat ways to spread our message. For example, we createda Thunderclap, which allows people to donate a Facebook post or Tweet to promote thecampaign. We also used Google Drive to create a partner packet with images, avatars, and sample messaging for organizations orindividuals to use. Hundreds of teachers have already submitted content usingthe #TeachingIs hashtag—so even though the campaign hasn’t officially begunyet, I still think it’s a success.

   

Teachers are sharing theirstories of what #TeachingIs—won’t you add your voice? Joinour social media movement!


Changing Perceptions of Teachers One Tweet At A Time

By Julie Hiltz     May 5, 2014

Changing Perceptions of Teachers One Tweet At A Time

Is it possible to changethe perception of a profession one tweet at a time?

I certainly think so.

Earlier this year, mycolleague Jaraux Washington and I were lamenting the fact that legislationaffecting teachers is written without the input of those working in theprofession. Even after 12 years of teaching, it’s still puzzling to me how policyand regulations that impact my profession are regularly crafted without anyteacher’s input.

I don’t find myselfquoting Matt Damon too often, but I thought he summed up this issue well in a Washington Post article:“We would never let businessmen design warheads. Why would you cut outeducators when you’re designing education policy?”

He’s right (not to mentionsuper adorable). Who knows more about teaching than teachers?

Surveys show time andagain teachers are among the nation’s most trusted professionals. Despite this,politicians seem to believe that they know more about what students need thanwe do. This issue is complicated by negative stories about teachers that aboundin the media and damage the perception of our profession: the teacher whoinadvertently misspells a word on a homework assignment, or stories that reiteratethe disparaging idiom "Those who can't, teach."

The underlying problem inall this is that teachers advocate for many things—except themselves and theirprofession. After all, most teachers don’t have time to craft Letters to the Editoror give testimony on Capitol Hill. Instead, they focus on their work andimproving the quality of their instruction for students.

But teachers have rich storiesto share. They have anecdotal evidence of the day-to-day challenges of theircareer. They have quotes, notes, and letters from students about how their teachinghas affected them. They have pictures and videos that convey how complex theirwork is. They have evidence to convince the public that they are exactly the people who should be leadingeducation reform.

So Jaraux and I askedourselves: How can teachers change the public narrative about teaching in a waythat doesn’t put one more responsibility on their plates?

The answer: Make it a partof what they’re already doing.

Like most people, onething teachers do in their spare time is socialize. Most of what our friendsand families know about our work already comes from their social interactionswith us. Why not capitalize on those relationships and share the true story ofwhat goes on in our classrooms? What would happen if we showed the world whatteaching truly is…in our own words?

And what better way togive these stories a wide reach than via social media?

Thus the #TeachingIs social media campaign was born. This TeacherAppreciation Week (May 5-9), teachers and their supporters are encouraged to leveragethe power of their social networks to share their stories and manifestos usingTwitter, blog posts, Vine, Instagram, YouTube, graphics, six word memoirs, andmore. All they have to do is use the hashtag #TeachingIs.

Jaraux and I are workingwith the Center for Teaching Quality to help promote this campaign. We’ve been able touse technology in some neat ways to spread our message. For example, we createda Thunderclap, which allows people to donate a Facebook post or Tweet to promote thecampaign. We also used Google Drive to create a partner packet with images, avatars, and sample messaging for organizations orindividuals to use. Hundreds of teachers have already submitted content usingthe #TeachingIs hashtag—so even though the campaign hasn’t officially begunyet, I still think it’s a success.

   

Teachers are sharing theirstories of what #TeachingIs—won’t you add your voice? Joinour social media movement!


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