Opinion
Professional Development Opinion

Twitter for Professional Learning, Any Takers?

By Starr Sackstein — December 17, 2014 2 min read
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Connection. That’s what we all seek, right? It’s a basic human need.

With the increasingly negative educational environment, often our school communities become a world of closed doors meant only to be inclusive to those who are let in.

It’s this environment that breeds the want for educators to seek outlets of connection through social media and conferences outside of their own learning communities to remain vital in the classroom.

Since Twitter changed my teaching practice a few years ago, I’ve been eager to share my enthusiasm with my colleagues. Why should I have this amazing secret, when I can share it with them too and maybe it can help them?

The opportunity finally showed itself this week on Tech Monday, several years after my first attempt to share.

Professional development, however, feels a little like frenemy sometimes. It has a bad reputation given its frequency and past experiences. So the challenge of making Twitter both accessible and relevant was already ever-present.

How could I help them understand the power of Twitter for their own learning without just aggressively pushing something they don’t want to be invested in? I knew I didn’t want to start talking about how to use it with students before I could get them to at least consider it for themselves.

So the first step was to start a conversation about what they think Twitter is. “Write a little bit and then share at your tables,” I suggested.

Small groups discussed and I eagerly listened, admittedly fearful of what I might hear.

We addressed the misconceptions right away, after all, how could anything meaningful be shared in 140 characters or less? I did my best to show them.

Below is the Prezi that I made to introduce Twitter. Having only 30 minutes, the way I could present it was limited and I didn’t want to over or undersell it. Knowing my enthusiasm could border on overwhelming, I didn’t want to overdo it.

We went through the Prezi, and I got some voxes of colleagues and friends from Twitter to share their experiences, hoping that testimonials from more than just me would be useful.

Verbose. That’s the best way to describe my presentation. I said too much. As an aspiring educational coach, I know the value of listening and then trying to fill the needs of the speakers. I’m worried I didn’t do Twitter justice.

Perhaps there will be more opportunities in the future. I’ve offered an open door for folks who want to learn more or set up accounts or participate in a chat. All I can do is offer.

Being a connected educator is essential in today’s society. If we want to effectively change education, we all must see the value in the change. Until then, I will continue to fight the good fight with others and trying to bring real learning to every child.

Are you on Twitter yet? If not, why not? And if yes, maybe if we all try to bring one friend on board, that can be the essential start by paying it forward.

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