This post was triggered after reading a few blog posts lately about how “twitter is not the same as it was a few years ago” for educators. There’s no need to mention any names, partly because it’s unnecessary and because there are actually a few blogs out there with a similar narrative.
These blogs tell educators that Twitter is not as small as it was a few years ago when they joined . That twitter is not about learning and connecting, but rather it’s about self-promotion and self-brags. That people retweet compliments of themselves from others, or retweet their own work that people share etc etc.
This type of narrative does not take into consideration many different aspects of twitter’s use by educators. This type of narrative also works to make educators feel ashamed and unwilling to share and use twitter in the same way out of fear of scrutiny and judgement from these writers.
This to consider when judging educators’ use of twitter:
- It’s so important to talk about power structures and hierarchies on twitter. I will save the details for another post, because it’s a complex issue. However, the educators that are writing these posts fail to see their own positions in these hierarchies.
Are you an educator that has thousands and thousands of followers?
- Yes? then you do not need to Self-brag or share much compliments about yourself simply because you have these followers to reaffirm your self-worth (I will go into the concept of self-worth based on number of followers in my detailed post). Are you a white male educator whom also happens to have thousands and thousands of followers? (keep in mind those who are critics of Educators’ twitter use are mostly white male educators) Then you’re in a position of power thereby telling what might be a minority group in education to not self promote? to not self-brag? Why not? We should be proud of our accomplishments. Because believe it or not, it takes 4x the same effort that you spend to get to same position as you, if that even happens (typing this truth is so difficult because it reaffirms their own self-worth right back, but needed to be stated).
- Time: Some educators who are excited about twitter’s use as professional development are still genuinely excited and inspired by their PLN. To them, twitter is not too big and does not contain too many people, to them it’s about the relationships they’re building, and the connections they’re making and the learning they’re acquiring. I ask about people’s kids on twitter, about someone’s bad day, about a pregnant teacher’s day. It’s all very much real and authentic. And even if a lot of time has been lapsed since joining twitter, time is essential here because to these educators, it’s still like they just joined twitter, and here is why authenticity is important. The interactions and connections are real, they’re not for points.
- Intentions: There are many reasons for educators to retweet and share on twitter. Yes of course there are the self-promoters and self-brag moments, but there are moments where you want to thank people for sharing, and a simple thank you does not do their kind words justice, sharing it will show them how much you appreciate it. It’s thoughtful, and it’s kind. I see it this way because those are my intentions why I share and retweet compliments. If others see it any other way, perhaps they should evaluate their own actions and beliefs. Could it be that you are actually intend to self-promote when you retweet?
- Voice: When educators see that other educators are judging their use of professional development on twitter, especially marginalized educators (Re: race, gender, class etc) they will rethink their use, and might even stop using twitter because the space is no longer safe. You are in turn silencing educators by not only judging their use of twitter, but telling them how to use it.
Solution? Live and let live!
Get the most out of Twitter according to your own needs. Do not judge your own use by others’. Even better, do not judge others for their use, especially when most educators out there are just trying to connect and be better teachers for their students.
At the heart of most educators on twitter is their teaching, and when I don’t feel authenticity in the connection anymore, I disconnect and so should you. My solution? Keep your connections real and you won’t be seeing the “problems” of which you speak.