I have advocated for a long time about the importance of differentiated professional development for educators. We know it works for students, so why is it rarely done for the adults that educate them. All teachers come with their own unique bag of tricks, tools, and strengths. I feel that the key to making our teachers stronger is to provide them with differentiated PD that allows them to demonstrate their strengths and train on their weaknesses, or even allow them to set their own learning paths. Teacher buy in would be huge if they could pave their own path. However, I realize that this is a management nightmare and would take a lot of time to implement, track, and provide adequate training.
My hypothesis still stands. When teachers want to learn something, they will and they’ll do it with gusto! This is why I love Twitter. Twitter allows teachers to investigate ideas, find like-minded educators, and exchange ideas 24-7. Nothing else has quite the scope and reach as the professional learning network I have fostered on Twitter.
How in the world does 140 characters enable educators to learn so much? It’s all in who you follow! Follow other professionals and companies that will share information on ideas, topics, and tools you are implementing in your classroom. Have a question, need a resource, want more information on a topic? Send out a tweet and ask for the information you need. You might get a reliable response, or two. However, if you follow an educator whom you know tweets about a certain topic and you mention them (use the @+their username) you will most definitely receive a reply from that particular person.
Better yet, I want a lot of educators to share their particular perspectives on a project, idea, or research I am exploring. If I use hashtags to direct educators’ attention to the purpose of my tweet, I have now gained the attention of a wider audience. If I want an even bigger audience, why not use multiple hashtags to reach educators in multiple groups?
So what if I want to only see tweets from a certain hashtag? Then you can search for that hashtag and see only tweets in which people included that hashtag for which you searched. This makes viewing your interests much easier. Here is a list of 60 popular education hashtags by Catherine Wedgwood. Check it out and search a few of them on Twitter.
If you’ve followed hundreds of people and your feed is overwhelming, why not create a list? Lists allow you to assign tweeters to a subject that they tweet about. For example, the district I work at uses Twitter A LOT. So to make my life easier, I have created a list called WY Tweeters that allows me to see all the tweets about my district in one long list. It really makes it easier for me to sort through all of the tweets I’ve accumulated in one day. So if I were a WYASD employee I might was to subscribe to the list of WY Tweeters that someone has already established. How would I do that? It’s simple:
- Click on Lists when viewing someone’s profile.
- Select which list you’d like to subscribe to.
- From the list page, click Subscribe to follow the list.
Twitter is also a great way to share information with parents, students, and the community. Are you doing great things in your classroom? Are your students celebrating a goal achieved? Do you have some great photos of a pep rally? Why not share them on Twitter? Allowing the community (aka taxpayers) and parents an open view into your classroom events and assignments is always a great idea. As for school events, Twitter is a great way to boost public relations and it all can be done in a short 140 characters or less.
How about a challenge? I challenge you to open a Twitter account and post one tweet about your day with your students. Why not start of the second semester by opening your classroom to the outside world, parents, and students alike? If you open a Twitter account, comment on this blog with your Twitter Handle. Mine is @HalcottMStech. Feel free to follow me. I will follow you back and embrace you as an integral part of my professional learning network.