Long ago, when the Internet was just beginning to become a big part of our lives, Kathy Schrock was there to help guide educators. She seemed to know how busy our lives were and made it her mission, as an avid tech enthusiast, to help us find the best resources.
Today, Kathy writes, speaks, blogs, tweets, and conducts professional development workshops, presentations, and keynotes all over the globe.
We at TechnoTeachers are thrilled that Kathy took the time to drop by our cloud office to speak with Jules about her passions and her tips for gaining followers on social media (hint: “pay it forward”).
TT: Why did you initially decide to become a teacher?
KS: As much as my high school guidance counselor told me I should be an engineer (since there were no teaching jobs open back then and I was really good in math and science), I loved school so much and had such great teachers along the way, that I wanted to have the chance to teach others.
TT: How did you move from being a classroom teacher to being a consultant/writer?
KS: After undergrad, I attended library school and became a school library media specialist, mostly at the middle school level. Being one that had an early introduction to computers in high school with an IBM 360 when I was a freshman, and loved it, technology grew up as I was growing up and I became passionate about it.
As a librarian, I understood, ever before the Web was available, that access to information was wonderful, and I began to collect Gopher (pre-Web) sites and then World Wide Web sites, keeping the list of them organized in a recipe box. When an Internet service provider started up on Cape Cod, he told me if I learned HTML, he would post my list of sites. That was in July of 1995. That December, the NEA Today newspaper highlighted my directory for educators and it quickly became very popular.
In 1999, I moved my site to the then brand-new Discovery Education site. I love to learn, and each year I studied some topic of interest to me and applicable for teachers, and developed new presentations. Because of these topics, and my name recognition from the site, I was asked to present at conferences. I did that for many years while working in the schools, but retired from teaching at the K-12 level in 2011 and now teach graduate level courses for the Wilkes Discovery Master’s program at Wilkes University (PA) and work as an educational technologist full-time-- speaking, presenting, and training all over the world.
TT: How have you gained your following on social media do you think? Top tips?
KS: I like to think that I have gained my following on social media by providing my followers with items of interest for both their own professional development and for teaching and learning. I cull my followers, blocking those that don’t fit my idea of my audience of educators, so I pretty much always know who I am “talking” to.
One great tip is to look at the lists of those who you follow on Twitter. If you frequently receive great information from someone, take a look at who they follow and follow some of those educators. In addition, on Twitter, users can create lists of Twitter-users and not actually follow them. However, when you click on their profile in the online Twitter app, you will see a link for “lists”. You can view their lists and chose to “subscribe,” which adds their list to your lists. I use this feature when I want to learn more about a topic. For instance, I subscribe to a list created by a great administrator, and the conversation of those on that list helps guide me as I prepare and teach new things.
TT: Why do you think it is important to grow as a teacher / share your ideas with others?
KS: I truly believe in the “pay it forward” way of thinking. If you are taking ideas from other educators, and using them in a way that is applicable to your class or your content area, you should share out how that went. It can simply be a quick blog post with a link to that post posted in Twitter, Google+, a wiki, or Pinterest. If you don’t like criticism, then turn off commenting. Commenting on a blog post does richen the post, but if you are not soliciting feedback, and are just sharing, then there is no harm in turning off comments for those posts.
TT: Which are the top 3-5 pieces of work you'd like us to share in this blog and why?
KS: The first two of pieces of work that I would like to share are my main Web sites: Kathy Schrock’s Guide to Everything and iPads4Teaching. The Guide to Everything site contains support pages for the presentations I give and have given in the recent past. Even when I stop sharing a presentation, I do add new items to the pages. I retire the pages when I feel they are no longer applicable for others. The iPads4Teaching page contains tons of iPad-related materials broken out by areas such as collaboration, creation, classroom workflow, and others.
My personal blog, Kathy Schrock’s Kaffeeklatsch contains reviews of items and some rants by me, and is more eclectic in nature. My current blog for Discovery Education, Kathy Schrock’s Katch of the Month, is more pedagogical. For instance, I just completed a series on student literacies for the digital age and one on higher-order thinking skills and Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy.
If you want to keep up with items I discover daily, you might want to follow me on Twitter. I won’t promise that everything will be educational in nature, but about 95% is and the other 5% allows you to get to know me a bit better!
Check out Kathy’s main websites (above) and let us know which strategies you’ve tried in your teaching and how it worked out.
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This is where Jules and Nic will post articles, links to interesting sites and things that we think our TechnoTeachers will like.