Saturday, July 7, 2012

Unite Online to Amplify Teachers’ Voices and Impact!

This week I am away on an offline vacation. Rather than let the blog be dormant or rerunning old posts I decided to give some other people a chance to share their experiences and ideas with you. I hope you enjoy the posts.

It’s terrifying how much education policy is made with little to no teacher input. There are millions of teachers around the world, but the impact of our voices does not match those massive numbers. How can we fix this? How can we, the educators, amplify our power? The answer is online unity.

As a Boston Public Schools teacher who runs a travel blog and a Global Education site, I straddle the travel blogger and education blogger worlds. What many educators don’t realize is that travel bloggers have accomplished something remarkable that can be replicated by teachers. Through online unity, travel bloggers have changed how travel is done, and who profits from it.

It used to be that big travel companies had all the power in travel and got all the business, but nowadays if you Google a phrase like “Traveling for Teachers” you are more likely to get an independently run website than a corporate mammoth. (Try it and see!) Because the online traffic now goes to the little guys, this has caused seismic changes in how the travel industry runs.

I just returned from the 800-person TBEX Travel Blogger conference (which was packed with travel companies jostling to work with bloggers) at which the CEO of Blogworld declared: “You bloggers deserve a professional conference, because you have proven that you are professionals. Travel bloggers have changed the travel industry forever.”

Wouldn’t it be nice to hear someone say that to teachers, with regards to education?

Learning from the triumphs of the travel blogger community, here is what we as educators can do to amplify our voices and impact through online unity:

Create a blog, and/or guest post on education sites. As educators, we have vitally important words to share about what is going on in education, and we must write for readers beyond our own schools. It is YOU who needs to be heard by the world. Yes, you. Please write.

Embrace social media. Once you’ve created a blog or article, get it read. Do this by cooperation with others via social media. Join the Education Bloggers Facebook Group and Twitter Chat, and find mentor bloggers who can teach you tricks of getting traffic through Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon, Google Plus, Pinterest, SEO, and more. Travel bloggers have been doing this for years, and their collaboration has paid off immensely.

Go to conferences. In-person networking is vital to forming powerful online partnerships. For example, it was at the wonderful EdCamp Boston Conference that a group of us came up with the idea for the Education Bloggers Facebook Group.

Do not feel guilty about becoming a successful education blogger or “Teacherpreneur.” People try to silence teacher voices, making us fear being heard. Teachers are discouraged from being outspoken, business savvy, or compensated for work we do beyond traditional teaching within the classroom. To that I say, “Pshaw!” I am proud to be both a teacher and a hard-working entrepreneur. Because...

Having a powerful online presence with a global audience makes you a better teacher. “Oh my gosh, Miss Marshall--” one of my 7th grade students squealed last week, “I can’t believe you have almost 4,000 Twitter followers and were published in the Huffington Post!”

“Indeed,” I replied with a smile. “That’s why I’m so strict on all of you with grammar lessons. I want you to write for world audiences, too, and when you do, your writing needs to be fabulous!”  

Lillie Marshall (@WorldLillie) is a teacher in Boston Public Schools who runs the Education Bloggers group and chat, along with two GlobalEd websites, and You can also find her on Google Plus.

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