In 2012, I was a 22 year veteran of the classroom, presenting at the Indiana Conference on Learning, and I had the chance to see a session by Meg Ormiston (@megormi) on using technology to enhance teaching and learning. During the session she said several times to the whole room, “You MUST be on Twitter!” She actually stopped her presentation and had us create accounts. I created an account…reluctantly. I was thinking, “I don’t do social media” and “it’s a waste of time” and “I don’t want to be a part of the drama.” Well, here’s the deal, I was wrong!
Meeting connected educators
By far the best part of Twitter for me is the connections I have made with people in all aspects of education from around the globe. I am always most impressed by the practicing classroom teachers that participate. They have spent the day fighting the good fight and still take some time to “glow and grow” with the rest of us. What’s the common theme among those that participate in chats? It is not subject, grade level or school district, it’s seeking to improve. And it’s their students-they come to learn, share, and connect to better serve those in their care.
#RCSeLearn #RCSNextGen #RCSeMadness
The @RCSeLearn team hosts a Twitter chat every Tuesday night at 8 pm. This is a labor of love for our team- but none of us had ever hosted (we had occasionally participated) a Twitter chat until we started in January of 2017-an idea from our Director of Secondary Education, Mike Shunneson (@RiskTaker4Kids). We take pride in creating topics of interest, engaging our followers, and moving the needle while having fun. We have all gained so much through this endeavor and want to share it with others. This spring we will host our 50th chat – not something I would have ever imagined doing (see the opening paragraph!). Twitter, and our use of hashtags, has allowed us to learn, share, and keep the conversations going.
Total transparency here – I like getting “likes, retweets, and follows.” It’s not the purpose to my tweets or my “why” on Twitter, but it is a fun side currency and I would be disingenuous if I said otherwise. This is why we included participating in chats, following connected educators, and hosting/moderating a chat in our #RCSeMadness Challenge. We are working at building a Twitter based professional learning community. We are excited to see the growth and development of folks like the @EduTryGuys and all that they have added to our collective experience. We are pleased to have more teachers from the district serving as guest moderators and hosting a chat for us in the near future – it is a sign of the growth we have seen through Twitter.
Personalizing your Professional Development
Twitter provides a tremendous opportunity for personalizing your professional development whether you are a teacher, coach, or administrator. You can search Twitter and find a hashtag and/or a chat for virtually any area of educational interest. Some of the best chats I have participated in have included a mixture of young professionals, weathered veterans and pre-service teachers- each bringing their unique perspectives. Twitter chats have also led to a steady diet of professional reading: Ditch That Textbook (@jmattmiller), Teach Like a Pirate (@burgessdave), Explore Like a Pirate (@mrmatera), The Innovator’s Mindset (@gcouros) to name a few.
Share your knowledge and receive so much more back
We all have felt the isolation of “teaching on an island.” Twitter allows you to break out of the classroom walls, reach beyond, and connect with educators from your school, district, state, nation and world because it is not confined to “the schedule.” It has been my experience that when I have shared – I have received far more by just being present, engaged, and interested. Not a week goes by that I don’t find a new source, app, or idea shared by someone in a chat.
Connection to our Professional Library
By following connected educators, interacting with them through chats, and seeing them present at conferences (even hosting them as keynotes at our own conferences) -Twitter has led us to build a substantial professional development library available to all RCS teachers. As mentioned above, most of the professional reading I have done in the past two years is directly related to people I have connected with on Twitter. Often, the authors have made appearances in our #RCSeLearn Chats – I think the current record is three published authors participating in one of our chats! We have even based some of our chats on the authors we have met through Twitter and their books.
Twitter Changed My Life
Twitter is, like any technology, a tool that can be used for positive or negative purposes – it’s how people choose to use the tool that makes the difference. It provides a powerful opportunity for good, for personal growth, for ending isolation, and for connecting people interested in serving others – that’s what I would tell my 2012 self anyway!
Today's post comes to us from Mr. Tim Arnold. Tim is in his second year as an eLearning Specialist with the Richmond Community schools. Prior to that, he spent 26 years as a social studies teacher, coach, and educational leader at Nettle Creek Schools in Hagerstown. Tim curates a nationally recognized technology and learning blog and was selected as a top ten educator in the State of Indiana in 2008. Tim and his wife Julie, a “rock-star” 6th grade science teacher, are graduates of Indiana University (BS ‘90) and Ball State University (MA ‘97) and have two college age children, Kelsie and Nick. Find Tim on Twitter @arnoldtimw.