powerful moments in education
Read read read the above linked post on the benefits of Twitter. I cannot stress enough the relevance and excitement that Twitter offers to educators in this tumultuously invigorating cross-over into the depths of 21st century information sharing. The first five points the above post offers are following:
1. Recommended, pre-curated articles from trusted educators
2. Links to terrific resources
3. Wake-up calls about what we don’t know and aren’t doing
4. Tried and tested tips by respected professionals
5. Important comparisons of challenges facing independent and public schools
This post has been a draft for 4 months and usually when a project, no matter the size, sits stagnant- I re-examine my vision. Only recently did I acquire words for this: Katie Wood Ray says something like: you must have a vision before you can have revision. I find this to be true in all creative endeavors- writing, sewing, remodeling, redesigning..re-anything! I wanted SO much to write about it, but now I realize what the hold-up was- I completely agree with these points and have little more to say about them! However, if I take one more step and consider my audience, I realize that what I could do is pose and answer questions. So here it goes!
I don’t know if I can handle that.
I know. I didn’t think I could either- until I dove in, discovered the richness, and then stroke a balance of use. It is important to know one’s self when considering adding yet another element to life, that seems like a time sucker. But let me assure you- it takes time, but will save you time in the long run. I have no evidence to support this but consider this: a new program, philosophy, standard, policy etc. is proposed at your school. You want to support or counter, yet you feel like you are not well-read enough to express your thinking, armed only with your personal opinion. Enter your Twitter schema. :) It is our professional responsibility to be armed and ready for our students.
But when I get home? I shut off. I mean OFF! Otherwise I am not ready for the next day.
I hear you. I wish I was you! A respected colleague once said to me,”Don’t you ever turn off teach?” I took that as a wake-up call to find balance. And I did! It is all a matter of preference and priority. We all know that in teaching balance for ourselves and students is an extremely important factor, and there is never enough time to schedule it all. Maybe you are a Saturday morning coffee-tweeter or reader. Maybe you are a 1x weekly check-in, maybe you allot 20 minutes, one afternoon a week, when your brain is tired and empty, to devote to Twitter to be revived, confirmed, or inspired. It is what you make it. Some check every day. Some don’t. Some only read and never Tweet. Some build community. ALL benefit. This is our life- we chose it! We educate.
Politics is SOOO depressing. If I get involved, I feel negative.
Soooo…you skip most of those Tweets! Really- some days you will be inspired by a Tweet, that was linked to a post, that was fueled by a negative experience. It will give you fire, perspective, and a connection, no matter how similar or dissimilar. Choosing what to read via Twitter is the #1 lesson in an important reading comprehension skill: Determining Importance!!! On the other hand, despite the negativity, you need to know what is happening in other places so you can be a change agent before it arrives at your location. For example, I frequently read about the ridiculous value-added model applied in NY schools because it is so far away from what I experience- and I want to keep it that way. Build your armory to keep things away. Chew on that for a bit.
It’s so overwhelming- where do I even start?
Well, though I hope you don’t remain there, start with the basic Twitter site. You will truly want a more management-friendly platform like Hootsuite or TweetDeck or Echofon, depending on your preference. The basic Twitter interface is not very user-friendly for people requiring multiple layers of connection. Some of the others allow you to save #hashtag (tagged) search feed columns, allowing you to read multiple themed Tweets when you arrive.
My current feeds, via Hootsuite for Twitter are (beside the basic Home Feed, Sent, Mentions):
#artsed #edtech #edmodo #gtchat (gifted chat) #edchat #commoncore #sschat (social studies) #edreform
This basically means that even if I don’t “follow” people, I can still see everything themed by that #hashtag. I then find new people to follow and get all the information those followers are sharing. It’s priceless.
Much thanks to exceptional NH educators Jessica Valenti (@jesslvalenti) Rachel Small (@rvsmall) and Steve Gagnon (@jstepheng) for being my Twitter mentors.
Do it. Try it. You will find yourself immersed in ideas, pedagogy, information, projects, opinions-ARMORY for the battle in education yet to be won, and the beautiful journey with students yet to be had.
What is important to you? What do you want to know today? How can Twitter differentiate PD for YOU?
also check out: To Twitterize or not to Twitterize…that is the question?.