Changing the Narrative of Education

By Jen Smith

The Media’s Perception

Classrooms aren’t always represented accurately in the media. It is not uncommon for news outlets to highlight the latest teacher scandals but ignore the quality work the majority of teachers are doing. Popular television shows often show students seated neatly in rows, reading textbooks, and looking bored. Images of blackboards and chalk still abound when referencing education, yet the classrooms I see everyday are filled with the very opposite of these depictions.

I see classrooms filled with student voice, reflection, and collaboration.

I see classrooms filled with technology, whiteboards, and research.

But most of all, I see classrooms filled with eager students that are at the center of the learning process.

If what we are shown in the media is predominantly about the mistakes teachers make, why aren’t we—as educators—showing the amazing work that teachers are doing every day for students?

How Social Media Can Help

We can harness the power of social media to share the good work educators do and begin to transform the negative perception of education in the media. We can also use social media as a pathway to mentor students about digital literacy while sharing our classroom narrative.

We once placed a heavy emphasis on teaching students how to write letters, and I argue that social media literacy is the new letter writing. We should be present on social media platforms like Instagram and Snapchat so students see how social media can be leveraged to connect, learn, and share from each other-and the millions of classrooms around the world. Students are already sharing their story with each other through YouTube, Snapchat,, Facebook, and Tumblr. To be relevant as educators, we should join our students and parents where they spend their time and become part of the discussion.

Start Sharing Your Classroom’s Story

How can you contribute to the changing narrative of education? Join Twitter or Instagram and create a hashtag for your classroom or school. A hashtag creates a stream that is related to only topics or posts that are important to your learning environment. (Be sure to check that the hashtag you are thinking about has not been used before.) You can channel everything happening in your classroom to your followers simply and effectively by creating a hashtag and publicizing it to your community. Once you become more comfortable, you may also try including other educational hashtags to give your work a wider audience.

What can you share on social media? Content may include student work, articles you think your community would benefit from, or videos that you plan to show students. You may also want to share pictures of students working (make certain you have the necessary permissions to publish student photos first), what they are going to be working on, and ask for help from experts in the field. Adding a link to your social media feed to your email signature will help create awareness and drive traffic to your posts. Likewise, creating QR codes to access your social media feed and putting them in the front office or by the front door of the school makes it easy for parents to have access to your feed.

Educators have the power to change the narrative about what learning looks like in our classrooms and schools. Education is changing and we can educate the community about how much we are continually evolving.

Jen Smith is an Instructional Technology Coach at South Middle School in Arlington Heights, Illinois. She has been teaching for more than 15 years in K-8 school districts, has worked as a classroom teacher, a world language teacher, and now as an instructional coach. She was the 2016 Illinois Computing Educators’ (ICE) Outstanding Technology Using Educator of the Year. She is passionate about sharing the good news from inside our classrooms, and raising and educating global citizens. She challenges that teachers-just like other professionals-need to grow, change, and be on the cutting edge of technology to best reach students. Jen is interested in redesigning learning spaces and pedagogy to engage and inspire students in our changing world. Jen is a mom of three cheeky monkeys, a tech enthusiast, and a wife. You can find Jen on her blog and on Twitter @EdTechJenSmith.
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