Today I am attending a workshop called Future-Ready Innovators. It is comprised of several outstanding speakers who encourage change and innovation in schools today. George Couros was our first speaker and I was blown away by his enthusiasm for education. He believes in students and he believes in teachers. One point he made was that in today's digital world, isolation is a choice you make. There are so many opportunities to stay connected with others that you have to really choose to stay disconnected. One way I connected with educators across the country and across the world is through Twitter. George said, if you don't know what a hastag or handle is, you are illiterate in today's society. I thought his point was worthy of a blog post on how you can get connected with Twitter.
Note: Check out the Twitter Glossary if you are unfamiliar with any of these terms.
1. Create a handle.
When I first discovered Twitter, I was confused by it's purpose. I had this cutesy handle and shared only personal information, as if it were Facebook. Twitter has evolved into a digital professional community. Now, I use twitter strictly in a professional manner, with the exception of the obligatory new baby pictures! I chose to make my Twitter PUBLIC, so that means anyone can see what I post. I keep this in mind with each post. This has increase the amount of followers I receive and the connections I have made. I also chose to make my handle my name because it was simple. Others choose create handles that describe what they love. Either way, make it easy for people to remember and recognize what you do. Be sure to include brief information in your bio, too.
2. Know who to follow.
Start following others and follow their followers. I started out by simply watching twitter. I saw what others posted to get a feel of how I was supposed to use it, and to be honest, I still am learning this! I looked up my favorite educators, researchers, and authors and learned who tweets a lot. Then I started following others who they follow. It was a chain reaction and now I am able to be connected with educators across the country.
3. Participate in chats.
Here's my weakness. I am more of an observer of chats right now. On specific nights of the week, educators come together around a common topic and chat. Depending on your interest, you can find a different chat happening each night of the week.This is a way to stay connected with current research and learn more about what others are doing in their classroom.
4. Tweet and Retweet.
Share what you are doing in your classroom, what you are learning from a workshop, or questions you have on twitter. Be sure to use an appropriate hashtag (#) for it to get out to the right community. To start out, I simply started just retweeting tweets I found interesting. Now, I am more comfortable composing my own tweets and sharing my learning in 140 characters.
5. Take it back to your classroom.
If your students have access to technology, show them how they can use twitter to connect with you. Don't be intimidated to be connected with students in this way. Twitter is a great way to build relationships with student and encourage lifelong learners.
Twitter is just one way educators can collaborate and get connected with each other. Embrace this connection. Share the amazing learning going on in your classroom and hear ideas from others that teach the same grade or subject. Innovation is not age specific. Anyone can be innovative...it just takes a step in the right direction and people to follow along!
George shared this challenge and I extend this to the teachers at Willow Creek: