How social media has helped me come out of my shell

I am the quiet observer type. But, I have found that using social media outlets, especially Twitter, has made it much easier for me to communicate with my colleagues, and especially people that I am just meeting for the first time. I find it easier to have meaningful discussions with new acquaintances.

Here are my personal observations. 1. I am more comfortable and confident holding conversations with colleagues & new acquaintances. 2. While holding these conversations, I feel that my thoughts are more succinct and clear. 3. I actually feel like I can communicate more effectively to my students. 4. I am no longer reserved about sharing my thoughts and comments with people who I hardly know.

I know there is a lot of talk, especially in education circles, about the use of social media by students. Some fear that using these online communication methods are somehow destroying students’ abilities to communicate effectively and properly “in the real world.”

My question would be this. Why then, have I found that my communications skills have improved? Is it simply because I previously learned proper social interaction before this whole social media thing happened? Or, has social media actually influenced the way I communicate?

I have always been a shy person, but I would no longer put myself in that category. Perhaps writing this blog has helped, too. Maybe through writing this blog and using twitter, I have realized that “putting my thoughts out there” isn’t a bad thing. In fact, maybe it’s a good thing…a really good thing. I have learned so much and had such great conversation with other educators and professionals through these social media outlets.

I don’t know that I can draw any conclusions about young people, but I know that these outlets have helped me to communicate more effectively and more comfortably. Just food for thought.

SMS (Text Message) Notifications for my band students!

UPDATE – After taking Joe PIsano’s great advice, I checked out TextMarks a little more closely.  I could not find any specific information on their site regarding the ads they send with their messages, but I have realized that the ramifications of these ads going to students may not be good.  So, at this point, I have put this project on hold, and am continuing to search for a service that will do this for free with no ads at all.  If anyone can point me in the right direction, please don’t hesitate to contact me.  I think this could be a really powerful communication tool!

After attending the PMEA Summer Conference this year, I starting thinking a lot more about how I could integrate technology into my band program.  More specifically even, I started thinking about how I could use technology on my students’ level.  It is clear to me that many students use text messaging as an important method of communication.  So, I started wondering if there was a way for students to subscribe to a band text message alert service for my program.

After many hours of searching the net, and failed attempts to use many different services, I finally found what I’m looking for in TextMarks.  This service allows the students to text the word “sharonband” to a specific number, and then they can receive any alerts that I post as the manager.  This service also gives me the ability to either allow or disallow the subscribers to send a message to all other members of the group.  I have disabled this feature, as I only want students to be able to receive messages.

As far as posting messages to the subscribers, I can either do this from my mobile device or from the web.  This service allows me to use 120 of the 160 text characters, as I believe the rest are reserved for short advertisements. (That’s how they keep it free.)

This is very exciting to me.  I notice how much students use text messaging, and I think it is just another great way that we can “meet students on their level” and keep them informed of the important information that we need to pass on to them.

I can foresee this being useful to any teacher that wants the ability to reach out to their students “outside of the school walls.”

Check it out, and let me know if you would consider using this with your students!  I can’t wait to get this going with my students and report back later on how it is working!