The Intersection of Teacher Effectiveness and Twitter

twitter hashtags

I’m sure that there are a thousand blogs out there about the topic of this post. But, maybe you haven’t read any of them, because you aren’t on Twitter.  Twitter? Isn’t that for crazed Justin Bieber fans? Isn’t that for narcissistic jerks who think that everyone can’t wait to hear how they had to stand in a really long line at Hermes or got skim milk instead of soy in their Starbucks (as IF!)?

Until I joined Twitter, I didn’t see a reason for it. Very few of my friends were on it. I didn’t really care to know what Charlie Sheen was ranting about every day, and I didn’t even know what I would do if I was on it.  What would I tweet to strangers? Who would even listen? It was a nationwide phenomenon that didn’t interest me in the slightest.

Then, two years ago, I was sitting in a Chris Lehman workshop about DOK, and he quickly remarked how Twitter was the best professional development out there. I watched as most other educators in the room knowingly nodded their heads in agreement.  I wasn’t totally sold. My teaching is going to be revolutionized by 140 characters or less? Probably not. Still, I’m a good student, and I usually do what I’m told, so I went home and set up an account. It was slow going at first. My account sat for a least six months without me accessing it even once. It wasn’t until another workshop, when TCRWP developer Maggie Roberts talked it up, that I decided to really give it a try. Once I got started, I was hooked. One tweet would lead me to a great blog post which would lead me to another great post to another article to another and another….and on and on. I didn’t have to go sit in a workshop to hear about best practices. Best practices were being tweeted minute by minute, and I was at my leisure to read the new information whenever I had the time.

What do I get from signing on to Twitter for a few minutes each day?  

Book Lists for Children~ What are the best new books out there? How can I use these books to enhance my teaching? What books should I be putting in the hands of students?

Professional Books~ What are the newest books that other educators are reading to enhance their practice? Heinemann? Stenhouse? Follow them all!

Workshops~ What are the must-go-to workshops and seminars in my area?

Blog Posts~Amazing educators sharing what is happening in their classrooms. Win Win.

CCSS~ How are other teachers implementing CCSS with success? What are the flaws? How are states embracing or pushing back against CCSS?

National Initiatives~ Hour of Code, The Global Read Aloud, World Read Aloud Day to name a few

Twitter has also renewed my sense of connectedness with educators across the country. After years of teaching, it is all too easy to focus on what’s in front of us: new district initiatives, new curriculum, new teacher evaluation equations. Data collecting, paper grading, rubrics, and parent-call logs can all make this incredible thing we do every day feel very much like a job.  And I was really gritting my teeth and trying to make it through work every day.  Twitter honestly changed that for me.  Being a part of a national conversation reminds me that we ARE a part of something important; more important than just our classroom or our school building.  I’m pretty sure it will change something for you too.  Mostly I just listen. But once in a while, I might have something to add.  You will too.

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Getting Started:

1. Set up an account. Be sure that you include some information on your profile that lets others know that you are an educator.  This will let people know why you might be following them, and then they might follow you as well.

2. Follow, follow, follow!  It might be hard to know who to follow at first.  There are certain people who really seem to lead the conversation such as Chris Lehman, Donalyn Miller and Franki Sibberson. Once you follow them, you can see who they follow, and well…you get the idea.  The more people you follow, the more tweets and blog posts will show up in your news feed.  If you follow me on Twitter @jenbrittin (visit sidebar of site), you will see who I follow. Anyone who works at TCRWP is a good start.

3. Listen in and join Twitter chats about education. TCRWP developers lead Twitter chats weekly. They are focused on a specific topic with specific questions being asked and answered by those involved in the chat. I was very intimidated by these at first. It’s hard to be brilliant in 140 characters.

4. Use hashtags. Hashtags will keep your tweets about a particular topic all in one place with everyone else’s tweets about that topic. Some popular education hashtags are #edchat, #engchat, #nerdlution, #nerdybookclub and #TCRWP. You’ll get the hang of hashtags immediately.

5. Actually sign on and use Twitter. Even if it is for ten minutes a day. It keeps you connected.  It keeps you sane when the 12o essays waiting to be graded are making you insane. It gives you a fresh perspective when you are up to your eyeballs in lesson planning.

Twitter is a fantastic way for all of us at W.E.S. and E.C.E.C. to stay connected too. Join the conversation!

~J Brittin

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “The Intersection of Teacher Effectiveness and Twitter

  1. Kim T.

    I heard someone say that Google+ is the biggest source of professional development resources, but I still can’t figure that one out! I need to find a kid to explain it to me.

  2. Jennifer, I love how you shared your “coming to Twitter” story! So many educators (who are new to Twitter) will connect with you on this. I am one of them. Twitter has opened up so many opportunities for connecting and learning and growing. I look forward to learning with you!

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