Meet educator Suzanne Rogers, who plays many roles as AP English teacher, English language arts coach, and Director of Professional Development at LISA Academy, a charter school system based in Little Rock, Arkansas. Suzanne is also a teacher leader for Arkansas Public School Resource Center, which participates in the Teacher Practice Networks (TPN), and an educator influencer in Common Core and technology.
This week, the Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning asked Suzanne to share with the TPN her strategies and tips for building a presence on social media and leveraging it to share Common Core-aligned instructional resources with other teachers.
Suzanne I’m honored by your request! Thank you. I will happily share my experiences, though I am certainly not an expert.
The Center How have you gained such a large social media following of 3,280 (as of October 3, 2016) on Twitter and elsewhere?
Suzanne I’ve been on Twitter since 2009. In the early years, it was very easy to find a small group of people and ask questions. I love the explosion of social media. As George Couros eloquently said, “Isolation is a choice.” Teachers who wish to be validated, who wish to express their voice, who wish to find resources can find endless possibilities in social media. I have tried various tools including lists and services to help me grow my followers. There is a magical number. Often, teachers follow more than they have followers. This is kind of like being upside down in a car loan. Try to keep your follow number less than the followers’ number so that you can continue to grow. Some people advocate following 5 new teachers each day. For teachers, 5–10 per week is doable.
I use Facebook primarily for family and teacher friends from other states. As a military wife and teacher, my friends have scattered to the four corners. I follow groups on Facebook like our @tpnlead group. When I find ideas on Facebook that I want to share, I open it in a new browser and share directly from the browser.
The Center What strategies can you share for how to leverage Twitter or your blog as helpful channels for sharing quality Common Core-aligned instructional resources?
Suzanne Twitter is a fast and easy way to share professional development with colleagues. I often use a #LISAPD hashtag. I also use the @tpnlead account to share. Although our state has recently changed our standards, I do still share CCSS-ish resources. For example, I have shared our Quizlets for all of our ELA vocabulary in grades 6–12. It is easy to Tweet these types of resources. I also like to share resources that come directly to me such as free webinars for professional development. I’ll tweet using our #LISAPD and explain that it is free. I use my blog for things that require a longer response than 140 characters.
I have linked most of my accounts using IFTTT. For example, my most recent IFTTT “recipe” is set up to automatically send my education Instagram posts to my Pinterest board. This way, teachers can find my posts across a variety of platforms. I use Linkedin to crosspost my blog and to reach a different audience. Voxer is another way to communicate with educators by voice and text. The downside of Voxer is that the groups are private and you need to be approved to join. I’ve joined #ARED, #engagechat, and #BFC.
The Center Other teacher leaders tell us they struggle with finding an audience or maintaining an active Twitter account focused on sharing practices. What advice do you have for them?
Suzanne Breathe! It takes time to develop an audience. Follow top educators in your state. Then branch out and follow other educators. Here is one list.
The Center Is there anything else you’d like to share about you and your social media success with educators?
Suzanne It takes time, but it is worth your time to develop contacts outside of your school. This is especially true for learning more about diversity #educolor. Most teachers use Twitter, but not in an educational sense. I will be facilitating a session on Twitter for pre-service millennials in November. I’ve found that we need to differentiate how we facilitate these sessions. Even among millennials, some teachers don’t know what social media is, while some are active users in their personal lives. Teachers are never too old to begin to use social media to learn and to grow.
The Center Thank you for your time, Suzanne, and for sharing your vast knowledge of how you use social media to share resources and information with your educator followers. It was a pleasure!
Suzanne Thank you! It was an honor!