Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Our Twitter Challenge- Pursuing 21st Century Professional Development (Part 1)

The pursuit of professional development is something which is increasingly more difficult now than ever for educators, but hasn't lost any of its significance in our growth.  Due to financial constraints and mixed support from schools, educators may find achieving quality growth opportunities.  But, this doesn't mean that we shouldn't try.

One of my goals each summer is to find some way in which to achieve this growth.  I try to find a great conference, or read a great book, but the goal is simple:  come back to school invigorated by having been challenged through some kind of professional development.  Without a doubt this summer was the biggest for me in terms of growth as an educator, and I have one medium to thank for it:  Twitter.

We're back in school now, and I am still brimming with the excitement that comes from professional growth, I want to get as many teachers within my building as I can on Twitter; they need the resource, and we need to grow together as a team.  To that point I've begun what I am calling the #GetConnected Challenge, a "Twitter in 5" challenge designed to encourage online discussion and afford a great way for the teachers in our building to pursue 21st Century professional development.  The challenge will take place over the course of 5 weeks, with each week putting a new challenge in front of the teacher.  The weeks lay out as follows:

Week 1- Make a professional Twitter. Put your picture up, fill in a bio, and send a Tweet.  Familiarize yourself with the basic vocabulary and uses of Twitter:

  • Favorite
  • Retweet
  • Hashtag- tagging and chats
  • Direct messaging
  • Notifications 

If you have questions or need help, just ask!

Week 2- Brainstorm at least three ways Twitter could be used to advance your teaching, and Tweet the ideas with the hashtag #fhsconnect; this way we can all learn from your ideas.  Remember that Twitter use in a classroom or for a teacher is not a “one size fits all” deal; it may work differently for you than others.  Consider classroom posts, class hashtags, a connect to your blog, a connect to other blogs which inspire you, participating in a Twitter chat, etc.

Week 3- Follow at least 10 other users.  Consider going to other teachers, even in the building, and seeing who they follow.  Remember: the more people you follow, the more you’ll get out of Twitter!  Building your PLN is key to getting the most out of Twitter!

Week 4- Post at least 3 Tweets that details something going on in your classes.  It could be a text Tweet, picture of your class at work, etc. If you’re comfortable, post even more!

Week 5- Participate in a Twitter chat.  These are usually titled with hashtags, and some of my favorites are #edchat, #sunchat, #saskedchat, #leadupchat, and #kidsdeserveit.  Below, however, you will find a table with some other awesome options.  By searching these hashtags, you can access prior discussions and/or posts.  There are many that are content-area specific (mine is #sschat); look for those.  If you find great chats that inspire you, please share with us!

Sunday Chat
Most Sundays, 9:00 am EST
Saturday Chat
Saturdays, 7:30 am
Teacher inspiration chat
Every week day, 5:30 am, all time zones
Teachers new to Twitter
Saturdays, 8 am EST
Education Chat
Tuesdays at 12 pm
Urban Ed Chat
First Sundays of the month, 9 pm EST
English Chat
Mondays at 7 pm
Math Chat
Times vary
Social Studies Chat
Mondays at 4 p.m. PT/7 p.m. ET
New Teacher chat
Wednesdays at 5 p.m. PT/8 p.m. ET

Week 6 and Beyond- Hopefully this has gotten you started down a road to growth.  For some of you, perhaps this isn’t going to work.  But I hope most of you see the value in this kind of 21st Century PD!  My goal with Twitter is to try an commit at least 20 minutes a day.  Some days I don’t, some days I go well beyond.  But I know that I have honestly come treasure the relationships I have built, and continue to build, with my PLN, and I hope you find the same!

Without a doubt I'm excited about where this could take us as a school, and each teacher as individual educators.  I've labeled this post as "Part 1" because I hope to reflect on the challenge at its conclusion, with (hopefully) great stories to share.  Before I conclude I have to give credit where it's due.  I am certainly not the first to encourage something like this in a school.  I give big thanks to the advice and support of some EduRockStars:  Abbey Dick (@abbeydick), Todd Nesloney (@techninjatodd) and Adam Welcome (@awelcome).

Let's see how this goes, and let's grow together!


  1. I'm curious to see how this turns out! Great idea.

  2. Kevin, I'm love to see you supporting teachers in the building in this manner! I think this is a great idea. My one question is how are you differentiating for the different learning/comfort levels of the teachers in your building? It's not to dissuade you but to offer up something I learned when trying similar projects with different staffs. I like the ideas and the approach, the support and the enthusiasm. Don't get me wrong, I think all teachers need to get connected BUT Twitter/Tweeting is not for all teachers. Do you have other options? (Pinterest, Diigo, Flipboard) that teachers who are looking for something else might try? After reading Quiet by Susan Cain I have been reflecting on how some of the initiatives I tried didn't allow for particular differences in the people with whom I was working. As a closet Introvert, I know the anxiety that comes each time I press "post" when I blog - even after almost 10 years of blogging. Although I have found twitter chats to be a great place for sharing/exploring, I know some of my teachers felt more comfortable with other options and didn't feel comfortable in the twitterverse.
    I don't want to dampen your enthusiasm, what you are doing is great. I hope to offer you something to think about - to ponder - from my mistakes and what I learned as an administrator over 13 years.
    Again, great idea! Keep moving forward!

    1. Great stuff as always Kelly! One of my Eduheroes, Todd Nesloney, once told me to remember that every teachers learning journey is different, and I remember that! You make some great points. My effort here was to make this completely voluntary; just challenge folks to consider trying this medium out. Each challenge has an inherent "choice" mechanism built into it- you choose whom to follow, how to use it in your classroom, what if any chats you follow. I've already had a teacher talk to me, and describe themselves as a "hermit", but be willing to give it a try. I guess my hope with this is to simply present a resource to my teachers, one that I hope will be the beginning of their own growth journey. Thanks Kelly!

  3. Way to take a chance and build capacity in others to venture out there into Twitter. This can be a powerful way for teachers to connect and share ideas.

    1. Thanks Tim! I'm excited to see where it goes!

  4. Thoughtful stepping stones, Kevin. Consider creating place for further resources to support colleagues who want more. Sites by Cybraryman and Kathy Schrock helped orient me last summer when Twitter was new to me. Chatting with #nt2t was great too. Best to you and your team as you try these challenges.

  5. Great challenge, and I'm curious to hear about the results and your reflections. I know that, for me, what finally got me on Twitter (after lurking and watching many EDUchats without an account) was when I saw other people from my school getting on. Somehow, that gave me permission to try, and it's been an amazing summer of professional growth for me as well!

  6. I love this! I think the staff at my school is ready for a gentle urging towards Twitter. I think you've set up a terrific challenge for those who are ready. Great setup! I think Twitter offers a number of ways that educators can personalize their learning. But, yes, it might take some one on one time with those who need more direction.