That was my response to a woman I only vaguely knew at work about three years ago. She was having a meeting in my classroom (it was not being used during that period and just happen to be open) and I walked in as she was concluding. We got to talking about teaching and pedagogy, something that gets me jazzed up, and she mentioned that I should join twitter and start sharing some of my experiences.
I was incredulous. Me? On Twitter? Never!
I didn’t see the value. All I knew of twitter was how much Justin Beiber and Lady Gaga were on it. I didn’t belieb (see what I did there?) that it could have any realistic use for me in my teaching. In my mind I thought there was no way it could help me in my teaching. How could it? I was already a respected teacher in one of the top districts in the country and I thought my s#*t didn’t stink.
Boy, did my s#*t stink…. how wrong I was.
She persisted. Tenaciously she urged me over the course of 20 minutes to at least sign up. Begrudgingly I agreed to sign up at some point in the future but she wouldn’t leave my classroom until I actually signed up for an account. Ugh!
So I did. @geospiegs was officially signed up. Now what?
Well for starters I was invited to watch my first #edchat that night (it was a Tuesday). Not knowing what to expect I logged on about fifteen minutes before and searched for the hashtag #edchat. All of a sudden I saw a stream of teachers from all over the world talking about stuff that I had no idea about! The questions for the evening looked intriguing so I decided to stay and lurk in the background. Over the course of the next hour I watched great idea after great idea flow down the twitter stream. It only took about three minutes until I couldn’t contain myself with just being a spectator and had to jump into the conversation.
Being a connected educator on Twitter is so easy to do as part of your daily professional development. Every time I take part in any of the multitude of education related chats on Twitter, I come away feeling inspired, challenged, and more focused in my craft. I have connected to teachers, administrators, parents, and students each of whom have given me something to reflect on in my practice and help me refine what I do and love.
Here’s how you can do it too.
1. Go to Twitter.com and sign up for an account. It will take you about 5-15 minutes to set up a profile, which I recommend doing so people know a little bit about you and what your perspective is coming in to a chat.
2. Check out this link: bit.ly/officialchatlist. it is a Twitter chat list shared by the Education Twitter community (I have no idea what name to give it… hmmm. #edutweeters?). Most topics relating to education are covered here. From the most popular #edchat to more specific ones such as ones for ComonCore, Math, Science, Middle School, Parents and Students, #worldgeochat (world geography is a personal favorite), and educational technology just to name a few.
3. Take a look to see what the questions will be for the chat. Topics and/or questions are sometimes posted about an hour before a chat kicks off. Just search the chat and the questions usually come up.
4. They are all moderated by an experienced twitteratti which is great because it keeps the conversation moving and you don’t have to be in charge, you can just lurk in the background and watch/read for your first chat, or jump right in. Most teachers jump right in because the format is so engaging! The moderator will post a question with the format ex: Q1: How do students and teachers benefit from being connected on twitter?
5. When you feel moved to tweet an answer to a question or tweet a response to a comment in the twitter feed ALWAYS include the #nameofchat at the beginning of your tweet and the letter ‘A’ followed by the number of the question you are responding to. A1, A2, A3, etc…This will make sure that your content will be found in the giant stream of tweets for that particular chat. It’s pretty awesome. Trust me…
Ex: A1 #edchat communication should not be a one way street. Ts and Ss on Twitter together creates communication in both directions.
6. Don’t be afraid to get sidetracked down the rabbit hole of side conversations. It will happen and it’s almost impossible to avoid. This is where the good stuff happens. You might get snagged into a conversation because you responded to a tweet and three other people did too. Next thing you know you are chatting about a new skill or challenging your perspective about an issue in education with people from Australia, Canada, North Carolina, and Egypt. It’s amazing what happens!
7. Finally, favorite lots of posts and follow anyone who you think made interesting points during the chat. They may or may not follow you back and that is OK. Over time you will begin to develop a core of connected educators that will push you to improve your craft!