Why I gave up Facebook

One day, it all became too much.

I think on the continuum of Facebook users, I’m closer to the “I-only-look-at-Facebook-when-I-need-toilet-reading,” instead of the “This-is-what-I-ate-for-breakfast” user.

But one day, even my infrequent Facebook use became too much.

All I saw on my news feed were stories about how the state of education is irreparable, infighting among educators who are split along party lines, and all-around complaining. I’m sure I contributed my fair share to these negative voices.

In fact, only months earlier I spoke to my educator-mentor, a former professor, who asked me if I even liked teaching, after she saw my posts for the past year or so. I was absolutely floored. I defended myself by explaining that I loved my students but I hated the system. But then I realized that maybe those two things became inextricable, as I sometimes struggled to maintain a positive attitude in my classroom because of my involvement and worry over issues in the system.

But after a colleague from a different content area posted an article which ridiculed the work high school English teachers do, which was written by a young college professor, I decided enough was enough. My feelings were hurt and I already struggle with confidence in my teaching (and in all things, really). And I decided enough is enough. I knew that if I didn’t quit Facebook, at least for the summer, that I may not make it back to school in May. I knew that I needed a way to energize myself, instead of weighing myself down.

So on June 20th, I quit Facebook. Which, of course, I announced on Facebook. And then after a couple weeks hiatus, I checked to see what people had to say about my announcement. But I’ve only been on a total of three times since then. And my life is all the better for it. I deleted the app from my phone and now I find myself using my phone much less.

I’m now engaged in much more productive and inspiring networking with teachers around the world, on Twitter.  I find myself cataloging new things to try in my class next year and asking more questions.

Twitter is inspiring me to get back to what I love most about teaching, asking questions. And maybe that’s why I felt so burdened by the system. I felt like my questions about teaching and student growth no longer mattered, in a system that prizes one-dimensional test data. And now that I’ve chosen to silence voices via Facebook, those things don’t matter as much anymore. And I feel myself getting excited about returning to school again.

But as a leader in my school, I feel as if I am walking a fine line. I still need to be informed about these issues, in order to properly educate the teachers in my department, but I don’t want to become entrenched in the negativity anymore.

How can we, as teacher-leaders, walk this line without falling?

Twitter, #ASCA14, and #FLOTUS

The ASCA conference was amazing! In my short time there (only 30 total hours spent traveling, in Florida, and the conference), I was entirely inspired!

I saw school counselors moved to tears as the First Lady #FLOTUS addressed us all in the morning’s general session. I saw my good friend and colleague, Catherine Allen in an entirely new setting, among her school counselor peers. I saw school counselors connect with one another via Twitter and Tweet Ups. I heard all of the amazing ways that school counselors make a difference daily. All of this made me entirely proud, not only of my friend, but also to work with this community of educators.

My favorite take-away from the weekend is the importance of collaboration. Of course, I was there to present with Catherine about the collaboration that we do but it’s more than that. I saw school counselors working together from across the country, world, and within schools. Catherine and I made relationships with people we wouldn’t have otherwise met. I follow twice as many people on Twitter than before and I’ve started searching out others to follow in my own discipline, to discuss/share with, and to hopefully collaborate with.

Sometimes teaching can be extremely isolating, especially in a school environment in which teachers are derisive of one another, and I find that Twitter is that safe place to reach out and explore. I’m beginning to think of how to incorporate Twitter in our department this year, as a networking tool.

Especially since I’ve given up Facebook.

So I Googled “Instagram for Educators”

I was considering adding an Instagram to my new social network repertoire, as Catherine reported having just downloaded it when I showed up at her house for our last work session.

So I Googled “Instagram for Educators” and all I saw were blog entries about how to use instagram in the classroom.  Like this oneAnd this one.

But what happens at a low-income, public high school, such as mine, where we have families who can barely keep one phone in the family, let alone a smart phone for every child.

This is extremely disconcerting and I am reminded how so many of New Mexico’s brightest students will be left behind as technology, to varying degrees, becomes an integral part of our society.

In fact, in Gallup, NM (where I went to middle school) there are students who don’t have internet access at all.  Not because they simply can’t afford it (probably that too) but because it simply isn’t available to them!  It is well documented that much of the Native American the reservations are without internet access and to require students to drive miles of unpaved roads to the nearest library is just ridiculous.

And then what of my original search?

I changed my search phrase a little, to include “Educators Using Instagram to Network” and I did find this interesting article about how Universities are using Instagram.

The State Department of Ed even has an Instagram.

Then I felt inspired.  Maybe we can use Instagram to promote nostalgia, as the article suggests.  Maybe all we need in this overgrown (but by no means overblown) debate about education, as a little reminder of what it was like all those years ago to be in school. A reminder that who we serve is students, not what we serve is corporations and special interests.

Or maybe these images can even by used as a wake up call about what it is like to be in school today. Limited access to text books or novels (especially in Spanish), gloomy classrooms with no windows, libraries with no librarian, the list goes on and on.

Things have certainly changed (especially access to technology and the internet) but there is a feeling that remains true in high school.  I feel it every day when I’m around squirrely teenagers trying to find their way in the world.  I see it in my seniors who are on the cusp of something they can only imagine. And I remember being there myself, not so long ago.

But can this feeling be captured on Instagram?