Sunday, August 28, 2011

Open Letter to Northwest R-I Teachers & Staff

After a week of being in the center of the MSTA lawsuit against the state of Missouri regarding Senate Bill 54, I was really excited that MSTA won the injunction.

MSTA Wins Injunction against Social Networking Bill

One of the other "hats" I wear is co-president of my local Community Teachers Association for the MSTA. I'm spending my Sunday afternoon, writing a rebuttal to my MNEA counterparts in my school district in an open letter to Northwest R-I teachers and staff. For 13 years, MSTA and MNEA have shared bargaining over teacher salaries, benefits, and working conditions with the district administration and BOE representatives.  In the past  years, the district teachers have voted to have both associations represent them equally with a team of 10 teachers - five from each organization.  Last spring's negotiation agreements resulted in changes to the voting procedure.  We now have three days to vote on this representation issue.  Amazing that the United States citizens can elect a U.S. president in one day but it will take just over 400 teachers 3 days to vote! I know many of my fellow educators from other states are NEA members but Missouri teachers have a choice. MSTA is the largest teacher organization in Missouri with over 44,000 members.  We have been around for over 150 years - in fact, we were one of the founders of NEA - until they kicked us out in 1972.  An interesting story for another day.

Tomorrow is the start of the three day voting window. What follows is my personal views and responses to issues that have been sent out to my district's teachers this past week.

Open Letter to Northwest R-I Teachers & Staff

Sunday, August 21, 2011

It's Not Just About Facebook





This is going to be short and to the point.

On behalf of our members, MSTA has requested the Circuit Court of Cole County determine the constitutionality of the social media portion of a new state law. This law is Senate Bill 54 - the Amy Hestir Student Protection Act.

To make the voices of Missouri teachers heard, five MSTA teachers have stepped up and signed on as plaintiffs in the case.  I'm one of the five - the school librarian.  That said, here are the links to the actual petition, press release, and more. It's not just about Facebook or Twitter. I recommend that you read the petition and keep up with the news. This is not just for the high school teachers - it will impact every Missouri teacher at every grade level either in the classroom, your community or church work, or your rights as a parent.

MSTA News
Read petition.
Read press release.
MSTA Blog

Fox 2 St. Louis article and interview







Tuesday, August 16, 2011

You Are What You Tweet



You are what you tweet or according to this infographic - what I'm not is very interesting or very social.  Ms. Jones obviously has more pink dots than I have blue ones.  Gwyneth Jones, aka The Daring Librarian, and I have been social media buddies (thanks to Second Life) before the Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.  Gwyneth does love her Twitters as seen in the infographic from Visual.ly. Dear Capt. Red, I do envy your trailblazer boots! Hah! However, I have cool cargo pants (really do in RL...cargo pants that roll up into capris) If that green card in my hand is memory RAM or graphics card - Score! Just blew out the dust bunnies on the Dell desktop and upgraded the works. Ok, I'm not the social maven duchess that Gwyneth is, but that's okay with me.  After ISTE2011, I was in a whirl attempting to keep up with my new PLN.  Finally, woke up one day to acknowledge I love networking for the information I read from my Google Reader feeds.  Instead of tweeting, I pull out my iPad, click on Flipboard, and send links to my Dropbox or Diigo.  Sometimes, I find a new interesting blog so I wander back to Twitter and add that writer to my "follow" list.  This personal learning network suits me.  I can even do a quick read on my phone app during lunchtime at the schoolhouse.  I'm just fine with my size of Twitter network.  Gwyneth is happy with her Twitters.  It's all good - though how she keeps up is beyond me!

As a professional educator, you really need to find your comfort zone for networking.  My mantra has always been "Pick one tool and learn how to use it." Pick Twitter for the micro-blogging, use Google Blog search to find new connections, and aggregate into a Google Reader. Time to make a Back-to-School resolution to grow yourself a personal learning network outside of your classroom walls.

I'll leave the super tweeting to Gwyneth and the tribe. However, I just couldn't resist this! Take a moment to read Gwyneth's Lady Gaga Librarians Unite.


*Infographics are created on Visual.ly - a new place to find cool infographics, create a Twitter feed infographic, and sign up to be on the list for when you can create your own infographics with data uploads.  I can't wait to try it with my high school's state test scores from last spring.  Hopefully, Visual.ly will be "live" by the time my honors and English III students will be writing their persuasive research papers.  What a great place to find data and make their own infographics.







Friday, August 12, 2011

There Is a Difference

I gave the presentation for my teachers association at the district new teacher orientation.  Who knew when I volunteered that social media networking would become such an important piece of that "show".  Newbies grabbed pencils & paper when I mentioned I had just checked my Facebook and Twitter feeds as I walked in the building. Sharing that questions were being answered on FB regarding Senate Bill 54 in real time for all teachers was a huge positive!  Social networking makes a difference when it comes to sharing information - this teacher librarian enjoys being an "information specialist".

I'm so proud of my teacher association - Missouri State Teachers Association - which is keeping Missouri educators informed regarding Senate Bill 54 and its implications for teachers and students this upcoming school year.  MSTA has stepped up to give members forums to ask questions on Facebook, Twitter, and its own exclusive Lounge member forum. 

Being a teacher librarian - and a geek tribster in good standing - I do believe we teachers need to stand up for ourselves.  No matter your personal opinion of this bill, it remains legal and school districts will have to comply.  No matter what your teacher association membership, it is up to you to listen and read.  This bill known in the national arena as the Facebook Missouri law is not just about social media.  It has more legal language buried down in there, that I admit makes me shudder.  Listen to this podcast The Pulse: Senate Bill 54 and Social Media which presents MSTA's legal counsel Kyle Farmer's interpretation of other legal aspects of this law.  

School opens today for my district's teachers.  Usually, I'm happily planning assignments with teachers to use  Google Docs, Glogsters, VoiceThread, and more online tools up in the cloud. Now, I'm flinging emails out to web 2.0 resources to double-check open visibility of communication between teachers and students.  Honestly, I'm not sure how this will all work out.  Much depends on what kind of policies are written by the local board of education.  Add the whole package of communication tools, and I have teachers asking about cell phone and email communications. Keep yourself informed - read other Missouri teachers blogs to reflect on their opinions.  Kyle Pace gives a thoughtful reflection in What's Done is Done, and William Chamberlain is to the point in Everybody Needs a Backup Plan.  Locally, check out our portal Northwest R-I CTA.  On the state level, read the MSTA Blog.   Plan your school year in the next few days but keep yourself informed of what is happening in your own school district. There is a difference - you as an educator can make that difference.