It is often said that teaching is an isolated job. Sure, we might not feel this way while we’re teaching — after all, we’re surrounded by our students. The classroom noise, students’ laughter, and busy conversations often make us feel like we’re not alone.
But what happens when class is over? What happens when the students leave? What happens when we are finally standing all alone in the classroom, packing up our folder, laptop, and water bottle, and reflecting on how the lesson went?
Like Molly Robbins, Twitter for educators helped me see that teaching does not have to be an isolated job. In fact, Twitter for educators is about global connections, collaborations, and new opportunities.
Twitter is changing the way of professional development, teaching, and learning in education. So if you’re an educator and would like to leverage the power of Twitter to become connected, there are several areas to focus on in your interactions to create and grow your professional learning network (PLN).
Twitter chats: This is a great way to meet other educators and to discuss similar topics of interest. As a new connected educator, I used to frequent chats a lot. However, I found that the connections that I was getting out of them are much more important than being on the chat itself. In other words, it’s okay to have side conversations on chats, and it’s okay not to answer the posed question. Even more so, it’s okay not to join them all together.
Twitter chats provide the pathway to building these connections, but they’re not what Twitter for educators is all about. Chats can be prone to becoming echo chambers. To prevent this from happening, you can ask tough questions, respectfully challenge others, and build on these interactions. If you’re looking for a schedule of all education Twitter chats, here’s a great one. It’s created and curated by Jonathan Rochelle, co-founder of Google Docs.
Blogging: Tweeting is microblogging. 140-character thoughts on teaching, learning, and professional development. Blogging about the conversations and discussions that happen on Twitter with other educators helps us grow as individuals personally and professionally. Educators are often encouraged to blog their thoughts, then share their work with their network. My first blogging platform was Medium, where I wrote about my experiences from the beginning about becoming a connected educator.
By reading each other’s reflections of classroom practices, we learn from what works and what doesn’t. Twitter offers a strong platform for educators to brainstorm and have discussions, but it also uplifts educators’ voices by providing an outlet to share their writing, thoughts, and ideas, which in turn empowers educators to be autonomous of their professional learning.
When educators share their writing on Twitter, they often tag people that were part of the conversation that they wrote about. Tweets of blog posts are often also tagged with an appropriate subject or Twitter chat hashtag, to open up a tweet to a wider audience.
Signal Boosting: When educators get to know the “Twittersphere,” you’ll notice that people retweet & share a lot of work, resources, ideas, and blogs. Being a new educator on Twitter, it was easy to gravitate towards big names on Twitter to retweet and share. But I slowly began to see that it’s important to boost voices of educators that are marginalized and need support. A retweet may give a new teacher support to extend her network and hopefully answer her question.
Twitter for educators is truly changing the way of not only professional development, but also education as a whole.Educators unite to create increments of change together.And it’s these little changes that give hope to all of us that we’re not alone in making change happen.
This post was originally published on Medium’s Bright.