Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Connected Educators Month

Why is it that I always get inspired in the morning while I'm eating my breakfast and in a rush to get out the door?  It happened again this morning.  I've been mulling around this idea of talking to my colleagues about how much I have learned and gained by being on Twitter.  I wasn't sure what the right format for this would be, however.  I didn't want to come across as being "preachy."  This morning, while eating my yogurt and scrolling through my Twitter feed, I remembered that October is Connected Educators Month.  What a perfect opportunity to bring up Twitter with the other teachers in my building.  So I found an article about teachers using Twitter that I had stashed in Evernote a month back, and decided to send it out to my colleagues.  Then I figured I had better write a little explanation of the article.  So, what started out as simply sending out a link via e-mail evolved into my "Twitter Manifesto."  Well, not really, but it did take up enough of my time this morning that I was definitely scrambling to make it to our 7:25 staff meeting on time.  What follows is my impromptu morning message:

Happy October!

Besides being the month in which the 1/2-year deluge of candy in our house begins (Halloween, Christmas, Valentines, Easter...you get the idea), October is also "Connected Educators" month.

There are a variety of ways we are connected as educators, but I want to take a moment to share the amazing difference Twitter (yes, it can be used for more than spreading horrible rumors) has made in my connections with teachers.

A couple of years ago, [another teacher] mentioned that she was able to get a lot of great classroom ideas by being on Twitter. So I set up an account and gave it a try. I didn't have much success. I decided to use it as a way to pass class information on to students. That didn't work very well either. So, I set my Twitter account on the shelf for about a year.

Then, this summer, I took an online class in which I was able to find teachers to follow on Twitter who were interested in the same educational topics I was. I also discovered weekly Twitter chats, during which teachers communicate via Twitter for hour-long conversations about educational topics that change every week. Having real-time conversations with other teachers around the country and around the world has had a profound impact on how and what I teach in my classroom this year.

Let me give just two examples. First, Twitter has been great for spurring my creative juices. A lot of the technology that I've picked up and using this year, such as Google forms, gClass folders, and Aurasma were first introduced to me through Twitter. Secondly, Twitter is a great way to get education-related questions answered. I was trying to figure out the best way to get captions on the videos [my co-teacher] was making for our Chemistry classes. I posted the question on Twitter, and within minutes I had an answer from a fellow teacher in Pennsylvania who had just been talking about that same question in PD that morning.

If you're at all interested in starting a Twitter account and creating your own Professional Learning Community, check out the article below (by the way, I found it on Twitter!). It's a great place to start. Of course, I'd be happy to answer any questions you have as well.



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