By Guest Blogger Melody McAllister
You Are Welcome Here
What do the best parties and Facebook communities have in common? When people feel invited and included by a host who truly values them, new relationships form and old relationships grow deeper. Can we create community if we have a virtual school start up? My answer is yes, but it will take even more intentionality than when we teach face to face.
A common concern in our Rethink Learning Summit community (where we are facing these concerns together) is, “How will we form relationships with students we’ve never met face to face?” And this is a very legitimate concern as teachers finished schooling remotely this past spring, they took comfort in knowing that at least they started the school year together.
Looping & Fast Connections
Some answers I’ve heard in our community is through looping. This is a fantastic solution, and as an educator who has looped in the past, I feel it’s probably the best solution. Unfortunately, it’s not a solution for everyone if you think about students in transitioning grades from elementary to middle or high school. Another challenge is that not all teachers will volunteer to loop or find it an option for them. Another answer suggested, is right after you get your class list in the summer, find a way to call, send a letter or video, and make connections any way you can before school starts. This idea is another great suggestion and could possibly work for many.
The idea I have to offer is not a new one, but it’s something that can work whether school starts face to face or remote. It’s an idea that can benefit all ages and grade levels. It’s an idea that can be a “catchall” for all the technology platforms a teacher might be using: Nearpod, Google Classroom, Remind, ClassDojo, SeeSaw, FlipGrid, YouTube…etc. You get the idea.
Facebook Communities for Students’ Families
My idea is to create a Facebook Community for your parents to join, and if your students meet age requirements, invite them too! If you Google “Facebook stats”, you’ll find that billions of people are on this social media platform worldwide and the fastest growing group are adults 65+. This matters as we know that not all of our students live with parents. Many live with older relatives, including grandparents or great aunts and uncles.
Just think, in a Facebook community, you can post all your assignments and resources, including how you can be reached during office hours. You can create a professional Facebook persona so that it creates a boundary from your personal profile. And if a group/community isn’t feasible for you, do like educator Ben Cogswell does with his KinderRockets and create an amazing professional page where everyone can learn, especially your class.
Facebook communities dedicated to classrooms or schools isn’t a new idea. I’ve seen educators and administrators use them. However, it’s not necessarily something many educators feel comfortable doing for a variety of reasons. One of those reasons is it might not feel natural for some educators. Part of my professional life with EduMatch Publishing and contract work I do with other amazing educators is help them build communities on Facebook. With the right settings in place, they have become positive learning environments. As an educator trying to find a safe way to build community with students you’ve possibly never met, it can be a solution for you too.
And if you would love to go even more deeply into this, I’m leading a session with the Rethink Learning Summit this coming July 20-21st. It’s a virtual summit and I’d love for you to check out! If you join, you’ll have the sessions to go back to at any point for a year. With my session, I’m also offering a Facebook community just for educators seeking to create a community on Facebook where you can get real time advice and wisdom from myself and other educators. You never have to feel alone. And of course, our sponsors are giving lots of resources for our educators, too. You can sign up on at the website or use my affiliate link here and be entered into a drawing to win my childrens story, the I’m Sorry Story!
So check it out!! It’s been amazing to watch all the educators coming out with innovative ideas to help our students and their families to continue to grow and learn. I hope I’ve offered ideas that can help you, too! What are some of your ideas?
Melody McAllister is a Believer, wife, mother of five, educator, author, and blogger.
Follow her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/mjmcalliwrites/