Ten Minutes on Twitter
In talking with many colleagues about Twitter, I often hear things like:
“I just don’t get it.”
“I don’t have time for that.”
“I have to many other things going on.”
“I don’t have a smartphone.”
“I don’t want people I don’t know to follow me.”
I think the first response, “I just don’t get it,” isn’t an excuse, I think it’s an honest answer. For someone brand new to Twitter, I can completely relate to thinking, “what’s the point of all this?” When I first went onto Twitter it wasn’t by choice.
In the Fall of 2011, I was enrolled in a Technology Leadership course and was required to open an account by my grad professor.
Admittedly at first I was thinking, “this is going to be a complete waste of my time.”(I don’t have time for this).
However, I now realize that being forced to explore Twitter and how it could be used as a means to connect and learn from other educators was completely life changing.
Our first assignment was to open a Twitter account and participate in Ed Chat. I distinctly remember going on to Ed Chat one Tuesday night in September and I had absolutely no idea what was going on. It was a miracle I had figured out how to create an account!
We had been warned it might be confusing, but it was like I was reading a foreign language. We were supposed to “contribute to the conversation” but I had no idea what to say, nor did I think anyone would care, but being the overachiever I am, I believe I did send a “Tweet” (I wasn’t even sure if I was using the term correctly at the time).
So needless to say, my first Twitter experience was confusing and I honestly didn’t think it was all that meaningful, but as time went on, I found myself growing more curious about the “Twitosphere” and thought to myself, “I can learn this Twitter stuff!” I wanted to know what all the Twitter lingo meant; RT, MT, @, #, followers, following, handle, etc. it was like there were all these people out there speaking this cryptic language and I wanted to know what they were talking about! Especially since some people were saying things that literally tens of thousands of people wanted to hear.
I figured these were people who were probably sharing some pretty powerful insights about education, so I better start learning to Tweet and stop missing out!
So, I gave Twitter another shot and decided this time I was going to figure it out! I thought, “it’s only 140 characters, it can’t be that difficult!” So, under the advice of my grad professor, I decided to “follow” (still seemed weird to me) Eric Sheninger, Principal of New Milford High School in New Milford, New Jersey. He was referred to as “Principal Twitter” by Scholastic magazine, so I figured odds were he would be a good person to start with. Was I ever right!
I started reading Eric’s Tweets. From there I was led to his blog, since it’s connected to his Twitter, watched a few of the videos on his website where he talked about Twitter, and then I started to get it.
I started interpreting the “code” known as Twitter simply by clicking on the links that were provided and then started to LEARN!!!
Like Eric says in one of his videos, I probably have learned more via Twitter from the amazing resources and insights shared by my colleagues than any workshop or any other professional development activity I have ever engaged in over the past 15 years.
I remember as an undergraduate student before the advent of social networking sites, I would sit in the library for hours on the World Wide Web trying to find at least two or three meaningful resources. Now I can go on to Twitter and literally within five minutes I can find at least a dozen incredible resources that I can use in my classroom or in my graduate studies.
So for everyone out there who looks at Twitter and says, “I just don’t get it?” I get that. I used to be you. And there were times when I went onto Twitter and I just didn’t see the point. But really what motivated me was the inspiration of my grad professor, Nicole Tomaselli.
Like most of my grad professors, Professor Tomaselli simply encouraged me and it was through this encouragement that I became sold on the power of Twitter.
It doesn’t matter what I need professionally, I know that I am going to find it on Twitter almost instantaneously. It has almost made Google obsolete for me as a professional. And since time is such a premium for us educators, I would encourage all educators to invest some time to learning about Twitter.
The benefits will allow you to save time in the long run, and use the time that you are saving to focus on what you really care about and that is inspiring and teaching your students.
I know that anyone who is reading this is already a Twitter fan, but I would urge you to email this post to your colleagues who are not yet on the Twitter bandwagon and tell them to reach out to me with any questions.
I am definitely not an expert, but like to think that I could give some valuable insight on how to properly leverage this tool to truly change your perspective on professional development.
I’ve been reading a lot of posts lately that are promoting professional development, but they aren’t promoting Twitter.
This is a post about promoting Twitter. Give it some time. Start with 10 minutes every Tuesday on Twitter. If you do that for one month straight and you haven’t been converted then I will leave you alone!
Take a look at my presentation,
“Twitter for Teachers.” In this presentation I define the basics of Twitter, and give recommendations on some of the top people to follow. Start with Eric Sheninger, like I did. In addition, follow Joe Mazza, Patrick Larkin, Justin Tarte,
Brad Currie, Rob Furman, Lisa Nielson, Shelley Terrell, Dasiy Deyer Duerr, Kathy Shrock, Tom Whitby, Will Richardson, Steve Anderson, George Curous… I could continue but this is probably a good start for now.
The most important thing to remember about these Twitter recommendations is that I’m recommending people to follow. I’m not recommending the agent of a celebrity. These are real people who manage their real Twitter accounts, and if you send them a question, the odds are very high that they will respond to you.
These are people on Twitter who are committed to education reform. They are highly successful in their roles, whatever they may be, and have been an incredible source of inspiration to me as I have pursued my degree in Educational Administration.
Because of Twitter, I have been able to learn first hand from the types of leaders whom I wish to emulate. Regardless of what your professional goals may be, I would strongly urge you to get involved in the world of Twitter so that you too can learn from incredibly inspirational people who share your passion for teaching and learning in the 21st Century.