Tweeting With a Teacher: Using Social Media With Students

How social media use by teachers might help students thrive.

Posted Mar 23, 2020

Pixabay
Source: Pixabay

With the recent outbreaks of COVID-19 and the closing of schools, teachers have had to completely change the way they fulfill their job descriptions and how they interact with their students. Because of this, I am currently homeschooling five children, ranging in age from 3 to 15 years old.

Each teacher has done this a little differently. For many, this has included using social media sites to continue teaching students. This looks different for teachers and professors around the globe, from video conferencing (Lederman, 2020) to posting videos to YouTube (Sheehan, 2020), to creating an Instagram account to share ideas for ways parents can teach their children at home (Weeks, 2020).

One particularly popular site that has been used is Google Classroom, which can also direct children to outside resources such as Khan Academy and Prodigy (Weeks, 2020). The main lesson learned from the past couple of weeks: There are a plethora of methods to give the necessary instruction to children from teachers through social media or online sources.

In the past, professionals have resisted teachers using social media to interact with their children due to potential legal issues. However, in light of the current crisis, online teaching has become a necessity and a norm.

Some experts, including the chief informant at Texas Trinity University, believe that this resistance will disappear and that this shift in society could be beneficial to many—especially families in need (Lederman, 2020). Currently, teachers are providing crucial content resources for most families as numerous classes are now taught at home; however, many families are in need of these resources even when school is in its normal session.

For lower-income families, most parents do not have the time, energy, or finances to give their children the necessary attention and help at home with schoolwork (Velsor & Orozco, 2007). Sadly, this lack of resources has been linked to lower school grades (Okpala et al., 2001), higher rates of dropping out of high school (Rabiner et al., 2016), and lower-income jobs in the future (Aksentijević & Ježić, 2019).

Pixabay
Source: Pixabay

One way to help this situation is to allow teachers to continue doing what they are doing during the current crisis—helping their students from a distance with their schoolwork.

This has already been done in some areas as teachers are reading bedtime stories to students in need (Kirkpatrick & Democrat, Feb 2020). At the beginning of this school year, schoolteachers in West Virginia began reading a bedtime story once a week to students via a live video on the school’s Facebook page. They hoped to develop a love of reading in their students and provide at least one bedtime story a week to children who previously did not have the luxury of a regular bedtime story.

This simple act could have a profound effect on children, as simply reading bedtime stories to children has been linked with higher reading scores (Clark, 2018; Massaro, 2017). What if teachers could continue this model by providing extra help to children in need through further direction and teaching via social media or online videos? This could have a significant positive effect on children in low-income families that need one-on-one direction and attention for help with their home and schoolwork, as parental involvement at home is linked to higher academic achievement (Wilder, 2014). While research has not focused specifically on how teachers’ involvement in the home affects the academic achievement of children, we would presume that this level of involvement would only serve as an aid for children from low-income families.

Pixabay
Source: Pixabay

Children from low-income families have been a focus recently of many policymakers to break the poverty cycle, with programs such as Head Start and Early Head Start. While these programs have been beneficial to enrolled children (Fastring et al., 2019), there are many more children in need of academic help at home. Teachers using social media to aid children in need of one-on-one direction at home could have life-changing effects for these low-income families, by simply extending the model currently being used with schools being closed. This model could give a helping hand to children in families where there is a significant lack of resources, by utilizing some of our everyday heroes: teachers.

This post was co-authored by Emily Schvaneveldt, a graduate student at Brigham Young University.

References

Aksentijević, N., & Ježić, Z. (2019). Education and reducing the income inequalities: The importance of education in maritime studies. Scientific Journal of Maritime Research, 33(1), 191-204.

Clark, C. (2018). Readathon: How children and young people are engaged and the benefits to reading. National Literacy Trust Research Report, 1-15

Fastring, D., Keel, K., Colby, D., Conner, J., & Hilbert, A. (2019). Head start centers can influence healthy behaviors: Evaluation of a nutrition and physical activity educational intervention. Journal of School Health, 89(9), 698-704

Kirkpatrick, J., & Democrat, W. (2020, Feb 23). Teachers use social media to read students weekly bedtime stories. Retrieved from: https://www.wvnews.com/news/wvnews/teachers-use-social-media-to-read-students-weekly-bedtime-stories/article_81c0a335-30fb-52b0-a0fc-4ad5d85c2afc.html

Lederman, D. (2020). Will shift to remote teaching be boon or bane for online learning? Retrieved from: https://www.insidehighered.com/digital-learning/article/2020/03/18/most-teaching-going-remote-will-help-or-hurt-online-learning

Massaro, D. (2017). Reading aloud to children: Benefits and implications for acquiring literacy before schooling begins. The American Journal of Psychology, 130(1), 63-72.

Okpala, C., Okpala, A., Smith, F. (2001) Parental involvement, instructional expenditures, family socioeconomic attributes, and student achievement. The Journal of Educational Research, 95(2), 110-115, DOI: 10.1080/00220670109596579

Rabiner, D., Godwin, J., & Dodge, K. (2016) Predicting academic achievement and attainment: The contribution of early academic skills, attention difficulties, and social competence. School Psychology Review, 45(2), 250-267, DOI: 10.17105/SPR45-2.250-267

Sheehan, M. (2020). Central Illinois teachers bring school to students’ homes by using social media, fun videos. Retrieved from: https://www.centralillinoisproud.com/news/central-illinois-teachers-bring-school-to-students-homes-by-using-social-media-fun-videos/

Velsor, P., & Orozco, G. (2007). Involving low-income parents in the schools: Community centric strategies for school counselors. Professional School Counseling, 11(1), 1-17

Weeks, D. (2020). Still on the clock, educators get creative about lessons during closures. Retrieved from https://cdapress.com/news/2020/mar/20/still-on-the-clock-educators-get-creative-5/

Wilder, S. Effects of parental involvement on academic achievement: A meta-synthesis. Educational Review, 66(3), 377-397, DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00131911.2013.780009