Facebook for professional development

Social media is great for professional development. For me you can’t go past Twitter but my other two favourites are You Tube and more recently Facebook. With some time and effort, you can create a large network of educational professionals from around the world that constantly feed you information that can inspire you to try new things or challenge/reinforce your beliefs about teaching.

Social media is 24/7 so if you already use or are planning to use it then try not to read everything that comes your way, mainly because you can’t! View your professional social media stream when it suits you. If you find something you like and don’t have time to read or view it then favourite or like it so you can come back to it at another time.

Most recently I have discovered Facebook as a way to access information about teaching and learning. I have a Facebook account for school and follow a number of Groups and Pages:

  1. Share network for the Australian Curriculum, SA – SNAC SA
  2. TfEL Teachers Companion
  3. Digital Technologies and Computational Thinking
  4. Edutopia
  5. TED-Ed
  6. Mindshift

The TfEL Teachers Companion Group has been set up by the Learning to Learn team from DECD to support those who are using the TfEL Companion Diary. The diary sets a focus linked to TfEL each fortnight and the Facebook Group supports this by posting relevant information linked to the focus. It also promotes PD opportunities as well as providing the opportunity to pose questions around teaching and learning. The Group provides great information regardless of whether you have the diary or not.

So if you have a Facebook account why not add some of these Groups or Pages to your feed?

Social media in my classroom

The use of tools like Facebook and Edmodo (a closed social network) have helped me to improve the way that I interact and communicate with students and their parents. I have been using Facebook since 2013 and Edmodo from the start of this year in my classroom. Both have been valuable inclusions to the way I work and while Facebook and Edmodo have some striking similarities both play very different roles in my classes.


I use Edmodo to:

  1. provide a central location for uploading and downloading assessment tasks.
  2. provide a central location for resources (sorted into folders) including documents, weblinks and videos (there is no storage limit in Edmodo).
  3. provide a place for students to submit completed assessment tasks and for me to provide feedback.

Edmodo – Create folders to store unlimited resources for students and teacher to access

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Edmodo – Store, assess and feedback comments and grades to students

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Edmodo – Create posts, assignments, quizzes and polls

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I use Facebook to :

  1. create closed groups for my students and parents – Yr 12 PE (student group), Yr 11 PE (student group) and Year 7-10 HPE (parent and student group).
  2. provide parents with programs, assignments & content term by term (7-10 HPE group).
  3. provide parents with text, images or video of what is happening in lessons (7-10 HPE group).
  4. to remind students of upcoming class events and due dates (i.e. We are doing the beep test today don’t forget to bring a change of clothes).

Facebook – Sharing information with parents about what is happening in the classroom

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Facebook – Communication with Year 12 students

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Communicating with parents

Communicating with parents is an important part of teaching. When students don’t complete homework, miss due dates or are not using class time effectively we will usually approach parents to inform them and discuss solutions. Often we do this after the problem has occurred. Implementing effective regular communication processes with parents may help avoid or minimise these problems.

The benefits of communicating regularly with parents are:

  • It allows for parents, students and teachers to be on the same page. Students will struggle with the, “I have no homework” statement when parents know what has been set for homework or when the next due date is coming up. Making expectations clear to parents is a way of avoiding potential future conflict between students, parents and teachers.
  • Parents want to know what is happening in their child’s classroom and appreciate the time and effort made to keep them informed.
  • Increased communication is more likely to see the teacher receive support from the parent if an issue arises with their child.

It is up to teachers to implement communication processes that are workable for both the teacher and the parents over the long term. Processes need to be sustainable and work simply and easily once in place.

Examples of traditional methods for communicating with parents include:

  • Notes home in diaries/communication books.
  • Formal letters
  • Phone calls
  • Face to face meetings

Examples of less common methods for communicating with parents include:

  • Emails (email groups)
  • Messaging (create parent group contacts on your phone)
  • Edmodo (teacher creates a class group and invites parents using a code)
  • Twitter (create a class hashtag)
  • Facebook (create a Group and invite parents to join)
  • Blog (use Edublogs to create a class blog)

My belief is that there is a place for all of the above forms of communication and depends entirely on the situation faced by the teacher. Having said that I cannot go past the second list for ease of of use to regularly (daily/weekly) communicate with parents (and students). Most teachers have used the methods on the first list to communicate with parents but these are time consuming and not as efficient for daily or weekly communication.

The four that I think are the most effective for constant regular communication are group emails, group txt messaging, Facebook and blogs.

1. Group email – Collecting everyones email may take some time and effort but once set up is an easy way to communicate important information quickly and easily. Attach images, documents and links.

2. Group txt messaging – Like emails, collecting phone numbers may take a little time and effort (although the school should have almost all parent mobile numbers). Set up a group contact for use at any time (our phones are always with us). This is a bonus as we often think of things we should have reminded students/parents when we are away from our work spaces or a computer.

3. Facebook – Setting up a Facebook Group that is open to all students/parents in your class or maybe a separate group for parents and students is an effective way to communicate. The benefit of Facebook is that most parents use it. Post information regularly about upcoming due dates, events, images, links and documents.

Below is a post and parent reply to my Facebook Group “PBAS HPE 7-10 Course Information”. This group is open to students and parents and currently has 28 members.

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4. Blogs – Set up a blog if you want to give parents a window into your classroom. This is a little more time consuming than Facebook/emails/messaging but can have a big impact on parents perception of you and what you do with their children at school.

Click on the image below to visit my Junior PE blog.

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With any form of communication that allows you to post information about children (blogs) or could considered intrusive by parents (sending txt messages, emails or Facebook Groups) it is important to send an explanation letter allowing parents to consider the pros and cons of the proposed system. They can then give their permission (or not) to be a part of the process. I still see great value in a Facebook or email group even without 100% participation by parents. Those that opt in will reap the benefits as will the teacher.

Responsible use of Social Media

The use of social media is wide spread and regardless of what we personally think of this medium it is here to stay and is the way that a large portion of the worlds population communicates. This includes our students. If our students are on Facebook then we should educate them about Facebook, if our students use mobile phones then we should educate them about the use of mobile phones. I use Facebook and mobile phones as examples because I would be surprised if their were more popular mediums among teenagers (and younger) for sharing comments and images.

When it all goes wrong and an image is posted which shames or embarrasses others or themselves our reactions as adults can be very condemning, “Why would you do that?” “Didn’t you realise the consequences?” I think it can be easy to sit back and think that the last couple of generations of kids are Internet savvy and automatically know what to do when using social networks because they have grown up with it. I also think this is an incorrect assumption. As parents and teachers we need to guide kids on how to use social media responsibly. Below are a couple of resources which could help teachers to do this. Do you have students in your class on Facebook and using mobile phones? If the answer is yes how do you help them use these tools responsibly?

I have collected a couple of resources for teaching digital literacy and citizenship and created links to them below.

The poster below is not easily readable in this post but you should get the idea. It would be a great starting point for discussion with students who post images and comments online. Common Sense Media – Digital Citizenship poster quality version – (click here to go to their site for a downloadable version of the poster).













Common Sense media digital literacy and citizenship curriculum K-5

Common Sense media digital literacy and citizenship curriculum 6-8

Common Sense media digital literacy and citizenship curriculum 9-12