I’ve had a user account on Twitter for several years (since 2009), but it wasn’t until December of 2011 that I started actively reading and tweeting. I think what got me back onto Twitter was the DreamForce (#DF11) cloud conference I attended in August. The genius CEO of Salesforce, Marc Benioff, discussed the importance of social media in networking and for collaboration. I tweeted a couple of times while I was at #DF11 (waiting in line to watch Metallica), but I wasn’t really “getting” what I needed from Twitter. I needed to put more thought into what I wanted. I knew I’d need to take the time to find out who I’d want to follow and have in my “network” of Tweets to make it worthwhile for me.
Once I started scanning user profiles and found a plethora of people to follow, I was hooked. By the time Christmas break was winding down, I was jumping into my Twitter account before I checked Facebook or Google+. I love Google+ and Facebook; don’t get me wrong. Twitter was different; it was basically finding what I wanted to read, connecting me to people who were passionate about the same things I was, and a treasure-trove of ideas to use in my own career. I was inspired by these people I was “meeting” online, and I truly believe that being on Twitter makes me want to work harder and better for the students and faculty I serve.
Most of the people I currently follow are enthusiastic about educational and instructional technology, and many are what I’d consider the “rock stars” of education and technology integration. My favorites to follow for ideas usually are people presenting at CUE, ISTE, and other educational events. As of today, I follow approximately 700 people, with probably 650 being in the education arena, and I know this will grow exponentially. My followers tend to be teachers and fellow technophiles, and of course, I’ll have a few inappropriate followers that pop up (and I subsequently block). Overall, it’s a great place for me to go when I want to widen my horizons, get feedback, and embrace the ability to be a lifelong learner.
Yesterday, I happened to finally catch an #elemchat, and it was focused on social studies and pedagogy. It was so reaffirming to be around teachers who knew how to teach, how to help other teachers, and how to engage every student each day. So many of them mentioned people who make students regurgitate information from a textbook, wasting the time and brain cells of students who deserve better. It was great that the consensus believed that textbooks were, for the most part, unnecessary in elementary social studies because the overarching big picture was to see the world and how it connects to our students. Some even mentioned how sending students to a website “for research” is just as wasteful — and I couldn’t agree more, especially as it is such a terrible use of technology. Technology integration in social studies (or any subject, for that matter) should not be solely a consumption of information; it needs to be creative, collaborative, and invoke critical thinking.
I see how important Twitter has become to my craft, and I wonder how I lived without it all those years. Working in a private school, especially one with only one teacher per grade level, it can be difficult to find people with whom to collaborate, share ideas, and learn. Twitter really solves that problem in an environment where I can take the time to see global colleagues changing the world one student at a time.