What are the ways you have or are considering expanding or contracting your social network to benefit you?
This is a big topic, and I think there are two levels to it:
1. Ways I will edit my social network to benefit me as a teacher.
2. Ways I will edit my social network to benefit me as an individual.
So, let's get to it :)
My Professional Learning Network
I think it's important to curate your professional social networking to make sure it works for you. On Day 7, I showed you my personal favorite resources, but I saved this part of those resources for today. Not only should you make sure you are adding only resources that are actively useful to you, but you need to not be afraid, if it turns out a resource isn't useful, to remove the resource.
Now that I've been impossibly vague, let me be much more specific!
In my twitter account (@rachelcinis), I follow 329 people. I follow other Latin teachers and language teachers primarily, but there's a healthy mix of other types of teachers, teacher-educators, and methodology theorists. Whenever I find a person who offers insight and helpful thoughts on teaching, I follow that person, and my twitter feed stays pretty busy with 329 people. However, once in a while I find that someone I follow tends to post fewer things about teaching or educational policy, etc., and more random offerings about their interests. Which is fine--no judgement here--just not helpful for my personal twitter feed. For example, I followed a history teacher who is really creative and writes songs for her history classes that I think are great and really appreciate. However, lately, she mostly posts artwork she's working on. While I appreciate her and am glad she has found a secondary outlet for her creativity, I am not personally gaining anything from her posts. So I am removing her from my feed.
The big thing is to not think about your professional network as personal, but as something that is meant to help you grow as an educator. As long as your feed is giving you useful input, it's helpful. If it is getting clogged up with things that make you reluctant to read it, then it is not helping you because you are not even using it anymore.
The same thing applies to reading blogs, or any other social network that you dedicate exclusively to teaching--you need to curate what you follow so you are getting what you need from these resources.
So I've already been adding some twitter peeps to my feed this summer, thanks to my conference experiences, and I plan to go through and clear out some that are off-topic (which is usually the only thing I find less helpful). I am also going to go through my educational blogs from my feedly and clear out those that I find less useful--I need to make sure that when I go to feedly I am ready to read what shows up there and don't skip it.
Social Networks I Maintain for Mental Health
I really only keep one social network for my own private happiness: Instagram. But my insta account is definitely exclusively for me to share my hobby (cosplay) publicly, and I'm bringing this up because I think it's important for us as teachers to be okay with carving out a place for us to exist outside of our identities as teachers. Maybe not just important, but essential. I follow sewing blogs and a few cosplay groups on facebook and keep my Instagram cosplay-focused and it's been nice, when I've had a stressful day, to go escape for a bit into something that's not related to education. I don't keep the account secret, and many of my friends and other teachers follow me there, which I appreciate (and I love seeing what they are doing in their lives). But I absolutely do not share teaching materials or teaching-related images on my Instagram, nor do I share thoughts on teaching or education there, because that is not what that particular account is for.
When professional networking found its way onto Facebook, it made it less of an escape and more of another place that I continue my job, and, again, while I love my career and don't mind devoting real time to it (hence this site and journal, plus the books, the blogs, and my various board positions), there is value in finding a place to connect with people over a shared interest that is not 80% of your life.
So I'll continue to expand my Insta offerings (I'm working on a new cosplay!) and as I find local cosplay groups, hopefully join them. I think everyone should consider finding a hobby or secondary passion and making sure you cut time out for it. It's really easy to let a career like ours, built on passion and service, become our entire identity.