My path to becoming a connected educator began last April during a conference workshop presented by none other than @tomwhitby (founder of #EdChat). A few minutes in he said, “There is an entire community of educators sharing great ideas on Twitter that you’re missing out on if you're not connected.” I created my account the very same day and have become an avid user since. Twitter has become my 24/7 professional development companion. The graphic you see below exists to illustrate the benefits of being connected; this post will elaborate on each bullet.
Networking- Twitter has given me a deeper understanding of and an increased ability to effectively network. My Personal Learning Network (PLN) currently includes roughly 900 professional educators from all over the world. Before Twitter, this network was limited to colleagues within my building and district. Through direct messages and face-to-face interactions, I’ve established real relationships with many of these people. They continue to motivate and inspire me through their tweets.
Professional Blogging- Reading professional blogs has given me authentic insight into the minds of other educators. There are thousands of educators who regularly share candid professional experiences in the form of a blog such as mine. Although reading professional publications can be informative, hearing the thoughts of our peers will often resonate with you on a deeper level. Had I never established my Twitter account, this blog would not exist.
Collaboration- Many of the connected educators making consistent use of Twitter are open to collaboration. Learning how to use the direct message feature will enable you to begin private conversations with like-minded educators. These exchanges can help push you out of your comfort zone with the confidence of knowing someone impartial is there to bounce ideas off of.
Educational Reads- The grassroots movement of teachers teaching teachers about teaching has become the norm for many connected educators. If you’re looking to dive deeper than a “500 word” blog post on a particular topic, there is no shortage of material. The Hack Learning Series and Pirate Books by Dave Burgess consulting are among my favorites.
Conferences- Organizations and school district accounts frequently promote local and national conferences in “tweet” form. As a Long Island resident, some of my favorite local conferences are the Connected Educators Summit and EdcampLI. With a professional Twitter account, it's never been easier to find out about upcoming events. Make sure to follow educators in your state to stay informed.
Innovative Ideas- Shifting the paradigm from traditional schooling to that of 21st-century learning is a complex challenge. Social media can act as an incubator for game-changing ideas in our field. Following the right people will make innovative ideas accessible. More importantly, these ideas will literally come to you upon logging in to your Twitter account. Here is a list of 14 Trailblazing Educators for you to explore.
I wrote this post to share my experiences, inspire and guide newcomers along their journey to being connected. The education-related content on Twitter has transformed me into somewhat of an advocate. I recently finished co-teaching a staff development course on the subject in my district and have intentions of running it again in the near future. Here’s a shout-out to @tchrmom2boys for co-teaching with me and “hopefully” inspiring others. On that note, thanks to all members of my PLN for adding value to my life.
How are you leveraging Twitter as a 24/7 professional development tool?