So there I was in the middle of the desert on the hottest day of the summer when my car broke down. I began hiking back to the nearest city when I ran out of water. I was beginning to think that I wouldn’t make it, the dehydration, and delusions had begun, just then, it hit me, the greatest epiphany I have ever had in my life, I should start writing down every thought I have ever had and people will flock to my page and read it in droves. They will begin following me on Twitter and I will be like some cult leader. Okay, so none of that happened, but it sounds much more interesting than the fact that I finally realized I needed to record my thoughts for my own professional growth knowing that most of what I write will never been gazed upon by another set of human eyes. I realize I am adding to a flooded market in the blogosphere and I have no aspirations of anyone other than myself appreciating my blog posts.
This post is not going to belabor the point that I found Twitter this summer, but rather to expand on the idea of Twitter as a tool for learning and collaboration. I have already mentioned in my welcome message that I found twitter chats but I wanted to provide a schedule provided by @cybraryman1, Jerry Blumengarten who chronicles so many links useful for education. Here is the link to twitter chats.
Twitter can be a place to share your every thought, or it can be a place to share creativity, intellectual thought, innovative teaching practices, and share resources. Twitter like so many resources and technology is what you make of it. Use it wisely and it can be an essential part of your professional and personal development.
PLN, Professional Learning Network is something I must admit was new to me. I have taught since 1999 and have worked in several different school districts and during this time I didn't really build anything resembling a PLN. Schools tend to foster isolation over collaboration. We toss out the idea of collaboration, sharing, and growing together but don't model that in any substantial manner. Over my career I often discussed the idea of seeing other good teachers teach. I wanted to pick their brains, ask questions, share lessons, find better ways of doing things. The problem and I can only speak of my experience at the high school level is that we tend to be isolated, locked away in our own rooms. Teachers in the same discipline rarely have the same prep hour. We often times teach different courses as well. It seemingly makes collaboration even more daunting. Time is often the biggest factor working in opposition to collaboration. We have so many things on our plates it is hard to carve out time to do another thing.
This is where Twitter seems to be a game changer, at least for me. I could start with all of the people in lands far away that I have connected with, but I will start with my own building. I became inspired this summer by other educators on Twitter and have tried to share that passion with others. I sent emails to teachers in my district, set up a # for our district for a PLN and hosted our first Twitter chat. I wish I could tell you it was a rousing success and there were too many tweets to storify. I so wish that was the case. I had two other teachers show up and the three of us had a great conversation. It was nowhere near the turn out I was hoping for, but it is our start. I stepped away from trying to be the band leader and get everyone on board and focused on getting myself ready for school. I created a few lessons and shared them on Twitter. This is when the walls began coming down at my school. Last week we had our summer PD days and during this time I had a few colleagues mention that they followed me this summer and they thought some of the things I shared were great. Some commented on the lessons I created even providing me with some great constructive feedback. I discussed resources with a few other teachers and saw a spark when I talked about chats and the lessons and activities people on Twitter are willing to share. I was finally able to see the seeds of collaboration taking hold within my own building. I am working to extend my PLN to my school and district. Imagine how much improvement there would be if we were all sharing our best practices, our best experiences, and our best ideas. Next step staff meeting smackdowns!
I do want to end this first true blog post with a special thank you to those who helped me build my PLN, improve my knowledge and rekindle my passion! I don't want to offend anyone in my PLN for not mentioning them, but the final push to blog came from someone I had been following for most of the summer and recently began following me. I have learned so much from her and it was her latest blog post that pushed me to publish mine. Thanks Victoria!