As a teacher, it is hard to connect outside the classroom with other professionals. Maybe your school is small and you are the only teacher at your grade level. Maybe your family commitments don’t allow you enough time to chat with your colleagues after school. Maybe the professional development you are required to do is not in your area of interest. Whatever your reason for feeling isolated, Twitter may be the solution you are looking for.
I have had a Twitter account for a few years, but it wasn’t until recently that I understood the value of using it for professional development. I had used Twitter in the past to post family pictures, classroom pictures and share random ideas. My account didn’t have a focus. Then an opportunity for a new job as a teacher-librarian came up at my school. I realized quickly that this role would support emerging technology which is my passion. Within a day, my Twitter account had a new focus, to learn all there was to know about the Library Learning Commons movement and emerging technology. I proceeded to delete all personal pictures from my account (that’s Facebook’s purpose). Then I started to follow leaders in library, technology integration and media. These leaders were selected based on their tweets. Immediately, I realized the potential of using this social media tool as professional development. The tweets I viewed were amazing! So many great ideas, connections to resources, pictures of examples, and video clips of concepts in action were just a scroll away.
Not only is Twitter valuable for learning new ideas but you can participate in chats about topics that interest you. My favourite is PubPD, which combines face to face socialization with a Twitter chat. PubPd takes place at a local establishment with like-mind people, and together you participate in a Twitter chat that lasts for an hour. There are also slow chat formats which allow participants more time to answer the questions on Twitter. Through these chats, you gain new ideas, resources, and connections.
Fast forward to today, I am now the teacher-librarian at my school. Twitter is used to share ideas about what is happening in our Library Learning Commons. Pictures and video of students using the makerspace, robotics, and green screen are frequently shared with followers. Twitter enables me to connect with colleagues around the world, some of which I have met and some I will never meet. However, the knowledge that I have gained from this group of people far outweighs any conference, workshop or course I have attended.
If you haven’t yet set up a Twitter account for the purpose of developing a professional learning network, I encourage you to try it today!