Thursday, May 8, 2014

Twitter saved my Career

There was a time in the not so distant past where as a teacher I was in a funk, I felt like a teacher in isolation......

Fast forward to 3 years ago with my husbands' insistence that I discover Twitter.  That statement in itself makes me snicker, because I am the computer tech savvy teacher but for some reason I was always reluctant to jump on to Twitter.  When I thought about Twitter in the past I used to think about my family members "following" celebrities  daily lives, favouriting and retweeting things that they did.   Following his advice I became @teachermikey and began to enjoy the worlds classroom that opened up to me, no longer was I that teacher in isolation!

What I soon became to realize is that Twitter is used by over 1 million teachers to share, collaborate and differentiate instruction ...WOW!  

So how did I come from a hesitant user of Twitter, to the teacher on my staff begging other teachers to just trust me.... follow me.....then I'll show you how to follow someone else in your subject area? ....Here's how:

#1.  I got lucky:  I had the opportunity to attend a conference where George Couros was speaking.  You can check out his website here George .   I walked away from the 1 hour session where he spoke feeling rejuvenated, inspired and ready to "Jump" in to being an Innovator of Change in my school and division. Please if you are like I was 3 years ago, check out George's website and view some of his presentations, his high energy, positive and real approach to educating our youth makes my heart sing.  

#2.  Follow another teacher you know:  On @mbteachers (Manitoba Teachers Society twitter account) you can find teacher lists for those teachers who frequent twitter with their class, or themselves personally.  I myself post everything from my class with my own twitter account as I STRONLY believe that my personal identity and my classroom identity are one and the same. I also believe that this is the way that we have to teach kids, forget the locks, forget privacy...treat social media like a small town country coffee shop!  If you can't scream it out in that coffee shop or your class in front of your students then I myself will never tweet it, post it, regram it or shre it on Facebook (Mantra to self).  I will follow up this discussion in a Digital Citizenship post to come.

#3. Hint:  Once you find that teacher that you would like to follow, you check out who they follow and follow a few of them as well.  It's the idea that a colleague that you enjoy sharing with, shares with another so you'd probably like what they have to share too.

#4.  The kicker:  Try to make twitter part of your day, embed it into your life.  Start following your child's hockey team scores on twitter, the City of Winnipeg, radio stations (CJOB), traffic reporting for the morning, News stations, columnists, your school division and even school.  The list is truly endless.  I find with the technology I love that if I embed it into my life it becomes part of my routine.  

#5.  Notifications:  When I first became acquainted with Twitter I would become frustrated by the fact that even though I was following other teachers, I would still miss things that they had discussed.  For each person or organization that I feel I don't want to miss out on a tweet I set up a notification for them, that way I receive a badge or alert on my device indicating that they have tweeted.  Brilliant!

My Pinterest page TechEd has hundreds of pins on how to build your Twitter PLN (professional learning network), engaging Twitter users to follow and best practices for implementing Twitter in to your classroom.

Twitter's effects are so far reaching, I am building relationships with teachers that I never thought possible and those relationships lead to engaging conversations with them as well as the students in my classrooms.  

The following YouTube video posted by @cnn today is a video of a teacher who is successfully implementing Twitter in to his History classroom.  Giving his students a voice to participate and engage with other students.  The power of differentiated instruction through Twitter has increased  his class participation rate.