Social Media and the 21st Century Teaching Community
It’s only the beginning of the school year in the United States, and when Hurricane Harvey hit Texas and Louisiana late last month, three American teachers teamed up to coordinate their own relief effort via social media. Dubbed “Teachers for Texas”, Chicago teacher Kristi Stanfa @hoorayforthirdgrade originally posted the idea of connecting teachers and classrooms in need in the Houston area with teachers and classrooms across America who were willing to help them out. Knowing that sometimes follower numbers do matter, Kristi joined forces with Wisconsin teacher Allie McMillen @thirdgradeparade and Californian teacher Brianne Walterhouse @hooorayforteaching to reach more people through their Instagram platforms combined.
TEXAS TEACHERS: If you are in need of support, please message me your name, grade, city, and email. @hooorayforteaching and @thirdgradeparade are helping me compile a list of teachers in need- we have MANY teachers around the country anxious to help! We know you have not assessed the damage yet, but you can still sign up now! We will send anything from kind letters to classroom supplies to home supplies for student families. Sign up your friends, families, and colleagues, too! #texasstrong #hurricaneharvey #teachersfortexas
“We collected information from teachers in Texas and compiled it in a Google Sheet, then opened it up for sign ups last Thursday (31st October)! As of now (six days later), we have over 100 teachers in need who have been paired up with teachers who have “adopted” them.” – Allie McMillen
Allie says Teachers for Texas allow the ‘adopter’ and ‘adoptee’ to connect via email, with Texan teachers providing a wish list of needs. Sponsor teachers are then organising happy mail, school supplies and other resources to be sent to help flood and hurricane affected students and classrooms as they begin their new school year.
View this post on Instagram
Adopt a classroom UPDATE: The amount of messages and comments that I have received to help support our fellow teachers and their students has blown me away. As @hoorayforthirdgrade @hooorayforteaching and I work to set this all up, we ask for your patience as we collect contact information from those in need and let damages and needs be assessed. Later this week we will be sharing the google doc link with you all so you can sign up with a classroom directly and contact that teacher about his/her needs. If your whole school/organization would like to adopt, that would be fabulous as well. If you or anyone else you know would like to be added to the list, please message me. This teacher community is truly wonderful, and I thank you all for your interest and support ❤️
The reality of these classrooms in need is difficult to imagine. As one Texan kindergarten teacher poignantly wrote at the top of her Amazon wish list,
“My classroom was affected immensely by Hurricane Harvey. I have 20 students in my room, most of whom lost their backpacks and school supplies. My room has been gutted and we are going to start back to school as soon as possible, even without flooring.
I want to make sure my students are taken care of and feel safe and comfortable during the school day. I did not add quantities for items, anything will help!”
Keeping it Real
Social media is often criticised for being a falsified version of reality. However, for all of its curated, aesthetically pleasing, activity inspiring content, it really is a fantastic way for teachers to connect, to reflect and to collaborate regardless of location or physical isolation.