Professional Development Opinion

Be a Shark: Getting Better at Getting Better

By Jennie Magiera — March 29, 2014 4 min read
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Today I’m so honored to have a dear friend and respected colleague, Sue Gorman, guest blog on TTT! An incredibly generous professional and thoughtful educator, Sue brings experience and insight into educational technology and professional learning. Today she’s here to talk about her own growth and the tools she uses to do so!


About ten years ago I decided I wanted to participate in a Sprint triathlon. The only problems I encountered were these. I did not know how to swim. I am not a runner. I can ride a bike, but imagine more like the movie “Now and Then,”...hands free while blowing bubble gum.

In order for me to be even partially successful at this endeavor, I had to learn. I had to learn a lot. I am not a born athlete so some of this came a bit hard for me. I literally started at the Polliwog level-learning to stick my face in the water and breathe. After practicing every day, I soon progressed to be a Guppy and then the ever coveted Minnow. I stayed at the Minnow level for a few weeks and then finally made it to the Shark! I was beyond ecstatic...my hard work had paid off. It was not easy work, but so very gratifying once I had overcome my fears.

Why am I telling you all of this in an educational technology article? Because I know how it feels when something new is introduced. It might not be easy, but we need to try. We need to keep trying because that is what we want our students to do. We need to keep learning for them. We need to become a shark.

My favorite PLN of all time is Twitter. It is my morning routine with a large cup of java in my hand. I can hardly wait to see what the world will teach me each morning. I use tweetdeck to line up all my hashtag columns and am immersed in reading and learning. I did not learn to use Twitter until 2009 at the age of 48 ( I don’t care if you know how old I am...I am honored by every day life gives me). Here is my first tweet from TCEA.

I had to learn how to use Twitter. I had to try each day to figure out who to follow and what hashtags to embrace. I was a polliwog tweeter. I had to learn to stick my face in the water. But guess what? I got better. I tried to tweet something each day, and to find someone new to follow or learn about a new hashtag. Soon I became a guppy, then a minnow. I was learning from and with people all over the world. I continue to learn from and with people all over the world. My goal was to be a shark in the Twitter world.

I say this at every presentation I give everywhere I go...I could not do my job to the level I do without my Twitter PLN. I could not. They are my go to educators, most of whom I have never had the pleasure of meeting F2F. I am so honored for their help, advice and expertise...and so are the students and teachers who have been taught by me through them. The world is truly our classroom kind friends.

In one of the most amazing keynotes I have ever heard (and at my age I have heard a lot :) ) my friend and colleague George Corous (@gcouros) said something that some people might take as a little harsh. He posted this slide and said, " A lot of educators have no clue what those things are right now and those educators are becoming illiterate.”

Friends, it is time to learn to jump into the Twitter waters. It is more than okay that you might be starting as a polliwog. It is time to discover Twitter and the amazing resources it brings to you and your students. After spending 43 years of my life not knowing how to swim, it was time. Whatever age you are, if you are in education, you need to learn the power of Twitter. You need to teach your students how to tweet great news from your classroom. I know you are saying, “they have to be 13 in order to tweet.” Not if you are the person responsible for the classroom tweets kind friends. Check out the power of Twitter from students at the National Teacher’s Academy in Chicago. Then check out @301Burley, then @mscassidysclass then @MsLsClass and the list could go on and on.

For those of you totally new to Twitter here are some resources for you kind friends. You are not in this new venture alone. Colleagues all around the world are here to literally jump in the water with you. We will catch you kind friends...I promise.

Twitter Resources


teaches at the Institute of Professional Educator Development at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside and is an Innovative Learning Consultant. She is passionate about student empowered learning through creativity and innovation. She is an Apple Distinguished Educator, Apple Certified Trainer and a Google Certified Teacher. You will find Sue on social networks, especially on Twitter @sjgorman and her website, www.suegorman.com.

The opinions expressed in Teaching Toward Tomorrow are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.